Tuesday, February 8, 2011

alcove has turned to SUGAR

Monday, October 13, 2008

Town Hall Meeting May 1 -June 13, 2009

A group exhibition, view details here:

Jesse Bercowetz (KY) current news
Paul Brainard (PA) current news
David B. Frye (IN)
Ben Godward (IN)
Luisa Kazanas (MO)
Gwendolyn Skaggs (IN)
Jacqueline Skaggs (IN)
Chris Uphues (IL)
Doug Young (IL) current news

A Statement

I began investigating and creating installation art in 1995 while living in the Midwest, creating artworks in unused realty. In 2000 I moved to New York, and over the years I have adjusted to smaller works and photography to get me through the long period of time of adjusting to smaller live/work spaces and deciding where I wanted to call home. It was in 2006 when I founded Alcove, formerly nestled in New York's Chelsea art district (547 W. 27th st. 6th flr.). Alcove was a cozy alternative exhibition space (hallway, and yet again, unused real estate), where art came face to face with art, and the viewer. It was approximately 5’ wide x 20’ deep. I exhibited group shows with 2-3 artists whose work had no visual commonality. The exhibits where rhymes and sometimes riddles. They made perfect sense, nonsensically. I appreciated the tug and pull effect of the coupled works and at times- when a participating artist, or viewer, could not “see” my reasoning, I especially did. The space was an “ongoing installation”, for a year and a half. In April of 2008 I decided that Alcove did not have to be tethered to a lease. I could still conjure a mission, gather artists, and locate unused (for art purposes) real estate, without the monthly financial obligation and without borders. It is my shtick. It was in October of 2008 when the idea of a town hall meeting was conceived, over a cup of coffee with a fellow New York based artist who was also born and raised in the Midwest.

Town Hall Meeting is an exhibition of works by 9 artist who were born and/or raised in the Midwest and have migrated to New York for the sake of art. The premise of this gathering of works is rooted in process, not only through medium, but also through the constant ongoing procession of choices made to stay beholding to a dream and an ideal. The selection of artwork is nonpartisan to this fact. The artists are devoted to their intuitions, sensibilities, and concerns (or lack thereof); they are relentless and willful with their execution. They are diverse in media and vision, using the strength of subjectivity, suggestion & knowledge to their advantage. This town hall meeting is not a political arena. I do not want to burden the artwork or the artist's history with politics. The curation behind this forum neither embraces nor despises the stereotypes of Midwest America (or it's eastern edge), nor is there intent to unveil or measure ignorance or intellect amongst the dialogues of the works, the viewers, or it's critics (as politics can). My intent is only to bring these artists, along with their labors and diversities, to their roots.

Gwendolyn Charlene Skaggs

Many thanks to Robert Lebow of Midland Arts and Antiques for opening his doors, mind and heart to this exhibition and making it possible for us to bring our work to this forum. To Shannon Moody, of Midland, for her patience and assistance while coordinating this exhibition from afar, and to David Andrichik of the Chatter Box for his kind donation.

A special thanks to Prof. Steve Mannheimer for his essay Art for Our Home (introduction Town Hall Meeting, the book), whose thoughts and words were just as greatly appreciated when he was the art critic for Indianapolis.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


As of April 12, 2008, Alcove is moving on. No longer located at 547 W. 27th Street in Chelsea, Alcove will continue as a curatorial entity.

I had no definite life span for Alcove, not for it's past incarnation, only that it survive as long as I could manage it and as long as I felt that it was necessary to be obligated to a lease. And the time has come. I have shifted my priorities (I am pursuing "diddly-squat" and "chicken shit"), and I do not feel that Alcove has to be tethered to an address.

I always considered Alcove to be an installation. It was my way to showcase artwork that visually "clashed" (in a kind way) either in medium, subject matter, or texture. But the essence seemed to be the same. "Essence"? "Seemed"? That's a bit vague. Oh well, let's just say the relationships were amicable. Alcove allowed work to be face to face, ego to ego (no matter the size). The combined works created questions, after all questions keep us going while answers can sometimes weigh us down. All I was asking for was the slightest of will to "undull" the senses.

I am grateful for all the artist who participated, not only in Alcove, but the above group photo, an event in which I offered neither beer nor pizza and scheduled on a Sunday afternoon.

pictured from front left side of ladder up, and then down to the right:
David Frye
Doug Young
Jason Robert Bell
Willie Gregory
Gwendolyn Skaggs
Rob Weingart
Karl Pilato
Chris O'Connor
Jodi Chamberlain

under ladder l to r:
Jacqueline Skaggs
Chris Uphues

behind ladder:
Shane Murray

not pictured:
Jason Grabowski
Scott Espeseth
Nicole Schulman

thank you kindly to Xzavier Taov for taking the above photo with my camera.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

“Senor, senor, do you know where we're headin' ? Lincoln County Road, or Armageddon?”

“Senor, senor, do you know where we're headin' ?
Lincoln County Road, or Armageddon?”

works by
David Frye
Chris Uphues

Feb. 21 - April 12, 2008
opening reception Thursday, Feb. 21, 6 - 8 p.m.

Like the serpents in Hindu paintings or of Greek mythology, David Frye's investigative imagery weaves around the heart of matters and into the racial divide. Exposing the truth of desire and deceit and the destruction of the almighty Soul his aesthetic is raw and his palette is just as blatant. There is no “pussy footin” around, no “beating around the bush” when it comes to telling it like it was/is. The absurdity in the catalyst is both awkward and awakening yet the ridiculousness provokes a chuckle, almost proving that humor is the cousin of evil. This body of work contains adult content.
I came across an interview on Wooster Collective from May 5, 2004 with Chris Uphues. Among the questions I found two that interested me. He was asked #1 “How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?” “Friendly.” he answered. #2 “What is your greatest ambition?” with this one he replied “To make the world a more magical place.” It was then that I knew I was going to show his work, face to face, with the work of David Frye. I liked the idea of these small quirky drawings (inspired by “stupid old comics, Graffiti, Voltron, Ultra 7, junk, Donald Trump, Native American Totem Poles, Chinese Opera, toys, Spider Man, Specter Man, Peanuts and U.F.O.'s”) starring, gazing, glaring, or merely just witnessing David Frye’s epiphanies. Or, perhaps, these small works on paint swatches (an accumulation of visual haiku’s) provide a rainbow induced landscape of hope as David’s stained glass Hummer heads south with headlights no more, rather nooses in tow.
“Senor, senor, do you know where we’re headin' ? Lincoln County Road, or Armageddon?” is the first line of the Bob Dylan song “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)” on the album Street Legal. Though written in 1978 the lyrics feel loyal to the present and akin to the union of these two bodies of work.

Gwendolyn Skaggs

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

american allure

Shane Murray (Visceral collage series)
jan. 10 - feb. 16, 2008
opening reception jan. 10, 6 - 8 p.m.

Visceral Collage
Shane Murray

This body of work is driven by a desire to add a three dimensional element to collage and to bring organic form to magazine images. The series is inspired by the twisted and reshaped automobile forms of sculptor John Chamberlain and by my own desire to expand a magazine’s content out of its bound form. Each piece uses whole magazines, cut up,rearranged and re-presented as a sort of meat pulp landscape which conveys the magazine’s subject as both organic form and raw material. These visceral collages immediately display the guts of a magazine through loose intuitive movement, impasto application and texture.

shown below:
Allure magazine
Hustler magazine

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dramatis Personae & Primitive Correspondence

Jason Robert Bell
"Dramatis Personae"
nov. 1 - Jan. 5, 2008
opening reception nov. 1, 6- 8 p.m.

Chris O'Connor
"Primitive Correspondence"
nov. 1 - jan. 5, 2008
opening reception nov. 1, 6 - 8 p.m.

I wanted to bring these two artist together, not because they share one common thing, but because they may not. Their paths may have never crossed. However, they are parallel in their intense quest for an understanding of art through the politics of (art) history, tales of mythology, whimsy of desire, and the skills to produce art masterfully. Let alone inspired, burdened, obliged, influenced, and jostled by culture (both primitive and pop), technology, and last but not least intellectual rationale. Like the surface of their works, these two artist are like night and day, not like Yin or Yang, but perhaps..... the Lion and the Mouse. I am honored to have them at Alcove.
Gwendolyn Skaggs

Jason Robert Bell
Dramatis Personae
november 1 - january 5, 2008

Dramatis Personae involves 100 archetypal characters from all aspects of our culture, history, literature, myth, popular culture, and all points in-between. In 1997 I began this project, a process of retroactively collaborating with my self. All of the characters in Dramatis Personae exist within the same idealized landscape, leading to the experience that this is a single ever-changing entity that is my own selfhood.

Jason Robert Bell
recent project

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the eternity of white

Doug Young
september 6 - october 27, 2007

Alcove is pleased to present Doug Young’s new sculpture, The Eternity of White. Walking into Young’s three-dimensional map of Antarctica created in wood, plastic and light, is an experience in physical vastness and temporal eternity. One enters the sculpture through a cave-like opening amidst carved stalactites to find a haunting, ethereal tone as a traveling companion. The Antarctic land mass lies above, and the gossamer, undulating glow emitted by the continent reminds us that we are at the intersection of void and abundance.

Etched inscriptions on both sides of the mapped walkway -- taken from Robert Falcon Scott and the Bible -- serve as testimony to a particular assemblage of awe and fear that can only be evoked by nature, spirituality, and a disassociation with ordinary life. Faced with these truths, we are forced to question our own paths, abilities, and dedication to our own unknowns.

The corpus of Young’s work, and this sculpture in particular, is infused with the same unwavering faith and infallible determination that were invariably present in those explorers who set off by ship and by foot into the vast, monotonous stretch of the Antarctic.

Doug Young has exhibited widely in New York and Chicago. In 2001 he was awarded the Guinness Book World Record for the longest nonstop banjo performance in history—24 hours total. Doug will return in the early winter of 2008 with all new work to be presented by Roebling Hall.

an interview with Doug Young
by Gwendolyn Skaggs

gcs: When did you start to make art?
dy: I started drawing when I was a toddler, but nothing that could be considered a personal expression until I was much older – in my twenties.

gcs: Do you consider yourself a professional artist?
dy: By professional do you mean make money? I consider myself a serious artist.

gcs: What drives you to make art?
dy: That nagging inner spirit that keeps daring me, shouting at me, and pushing me.

gcs: Do you see yourself as an inventor, of sorts?
dy: Yes, most sculptures start with an idea, but without a clear and practical means for creating them. This is where cunning and invention step in.

gcs: How did the artist and inventor in you merge and does it create any conflicts?
dy: The inventor is here to serve the poetic needs of the artistic expression, similar to the relationship between an architect and an engineer.

gcs: How does the invention process work for you?
dy: It is born out of the necessity to supply a need.

gcs: Explain your inspiration?
dy: I am inspired by and want to reflect powerful ideas, however they may show themselves.

gcs: In what way does your inspiration transform into ideas?
dy: While thinking about experiences I have had or would like to have, something just pops. I could be walking down the street or sitting on the toilet.

gcs: From ideas to production of art – how? And why?
dy: As I go from the idea to the realization of an idea, there are numerous ways to go about it. Choosing materials, size, etc… I always try to keep the out come as simple and direct as possible. Be truthful to the source and content.

gcs: Could your ideas be portrayed in any other medium? If so which?
dy: There is no limit to what can be used. As mentioned above the sculptor/idea dictates the shape of content to quote Ben Shan.

gcs: Which artists would you most like to blatantly rip off?
dy: Earl Scruggs

gcs: Are you happy with your reasons for making art? i.e. Are there any trade offs that make life hard?
dy: To quote Robert Henri “art is a privilege you pay for with your life.” Life? Hard? You see it all the time, divorce, addiction, suicide, depression. In respect to being an artist I believe all of that comes from never being able to feel truly fulfilled. But people continue to do it living for those fleeting moments of ecstasy.

gcs: When does your art become successful?
dy: When problems get solved.

gcs: Any routine in making your artwork?
dy: My whole life is about routine. I am a morning person, so I get up early and go to bed early. Early to bed, Early to rise, Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Right?

gcs: How do you start the process of making work?
dy: I just start, do a little research if necessary, get some money together, and go

gcs: What is art?
dy: The hope for a better tomorrow.

gcs: Who has been the biggest influence on you?
dy: My parents, Jason Bell, John Mitchell and the so often forgotten Ashcan School.

gcs: Which pieces would you like to be remembered for, thus far?
dy: The Sad Death of Doug Young, and The Levitating Tire

Thursday, June 21, 2007


works by
Jason Grabowski
Jodi Chamberlain
Rob Weingart
june 21 - august 10, 2007

These three artists came to me by way of three completely different routes. Though there is no obvious common thread the works quietly mingled their way into sets. I embraced the diverse relationships and like a union loyal to individualism and equality I saw fit to join them, not in holy matrimony, but rather by hyphenation.
Gwendolyn Skaggs

Jason Grabowski
Jason Grabowski is a native New Yorker who lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan. Throughout the day he can be found drawing and writing feverishly in one of two small notebooks he carries with him at all times. He uses a literary approach to art, absorbing passing images and savoring each documented finding, which he expands upon at a later point. He paints at night and after work, with anything he can make use of. House paint, acrylic, ink, stain, oil crayons, water color and different shaped pencils are used on found wood or discarded paper scraps he either collects from his job or finds on the street; trying to make use of his environment and each day, spending little or no money on supplies.

Three years ago, Jason began showing his work wherever he could, in coffee shops, theatre spaces, bookstores, in small zines and even residential apartments in San Francisco and New York. Through these years, he's stuck close to friends and loved ones, giving most of his work to them and those who have supported him and his choices along the way. In the past year, Jason's work has been exhibited at the Space 1026 Annual Art Auction, along side Philladelphia artists Damian Weinkrantz and Jim Houser and is currently part of the Fuse "Draw" Tour Group Show, Curated by Erik Foss and Curse Mackey.

For Jason Grabowski, art is always happening, without a beginning or an end, perpetually erupting from the artist who documents their subjective encounters with the truth he or she finds in every waking corner of nature (city, forest, hometown, museum, dinner, bar), creating an image far greater than what can only replicate it. Humbled by this notion, he spends his time pondering possibility. Trying to get something down each day; a memory or two, something to live by, something to die peacefully with or a moment of clarity that may help him on his continual walk towards grace. Digging and chipping away at the obstacles that surround him Jason creates happily.
words by Jay Riggio

Jodi Chamberlain
Ridiculous is a perfectly normal state to be in, although not accepted by all as so.

What is more ridiculous than pollution causing fantastic sun sets? And why do chimneys and TV antennas continue to top rooftops in the archetypical mind's eye of what is considered "home" or "house" although seldom used due to cable and central heating?

I delight in painting what would seem ridiculous, through scenes, scapes, and architecture.

Rob Weingart
I think about my paintings as a family unit; to be seen as a whole, a kind of landscape that ultimately conveys a quiet and understated experience. I typically try to sit down each day and execute a painting in a relatively short period of time. They are quotidian in that they are about a routine, daily exercise, a moment and a feeling that is quickly jotted down, perhaps akin to fleeting thoughts that arise when listening to an LP or talk radio at a low volume. I think of them as elements within a larger landscape as they comprise a body of work that is essentially informed and crafted by my own preoccupations and worldly happenings. Much like the objects and incidents that comprise a landscape, their presence exists in the periphery.

above image:
l to r
Jason Grabowski, The Winner, 2007, ink, gold paint, graphite on paper, 10" x 7 3/4”
Jodi Chamberlain, The Campground, 2007, oil on wood, 9” x 5 1/2”
Rob Weingart, Grotto, 2007, water color on paper, 9 1/2" x 11 1/4”

l to r
Jason Grabowski, A Friend of Mine, 2007, ink on paper, 10 1/2” x 8”
Jodi Chamberlain, Lamppost Peering, 2007, oil on wood, 9” x 5 1/2”
Rob Weingart, Bulgaria, 2007, water color on paper, 7 1/2” x 10"

Thursday, May 3, 2007

charted breaths & silver points

Jacqueline Skaggs
Charted Breaths
may 3 - june 16, 2007

image: #2 from a set of 4 drawings. "For Mr. Reinhardt, Opals, Dreams, Lines and Hearts" mapped periods from "Art as Art", Art in Theory, pp. 806-809, graphite powder and ink on paper.

After several years of making paintings that married minimalism to the romantic use of light I had become suspicious of the works aesthetics. Aside from their conceptual, unseen, characteristics and though they were burdened in layers and layers of glazing, the paintings appeared too simple, too minimal, too obvious and most of all - too much about their surface.

I stopped painting for a while and turned to books. I turned to poetry and the tattered art history books that I have dragged around for over twenty years, the big fat separated-at-the-spine kind of books. As pure exercise I began borrowing images from various resources with the intention of creating my own narratives with them. I wanted a break from the practice of painting.
Using a pounce wheel I transferred figures, birds, moths, structures and forms from the pages of these books. Each image was made up of a string of small, punctured dots. While pouncing the stars from a Jasper Johns painting my eyes were guided to the small dots (periods) buried within the text on the page. I began mapping those and within days my transfers consisted only of the carefully mapped, charted dots. Soon, “The Paradiso, by Dante Alighieri” was reborn as I charted through the text of a 1904 edition and unleashed 33 "drawings" consisting of newly discovered constellations from Dantes very own heaven.

My work explores the moments between the words, between the thoughts, at the breath. A pattern of pauses emerges and surrenders to a predestined design born solely from words.

pounce wheel; Pounce bags are commonly used in conjunction with pounce wheels to transfer drawings from one surface to another. The toothed pounce wheel is used to perforate the lines of a drawing with small, evenly spaced holes, and then the pounce bag is used to dust those perforations, effectively transferring the design or pattern to the surface beneath.

Jacqueline Skaggs

Jack Livingston (Radar): The staggering complex Morse code multiple constellation like interpretive resonance of Jacqueline Skaggs' endeavor is rooted in her sense of combining the sublime poetic with purist painting. She is one of those artists who manage to keep a clear clean balance between the two. There is always something behind the beauty. She says she uses a personal psychological hook on which to hang her work and is not at all averse to the spiritual and the elegance of her natural style. There is no wavering here. It is all clarity and bold balance. Skaggs has found a way in these small paper paintings to minimally express literal volumes.

Scott Espeseth
Silver Points
may 3 - june 16, 2007

image: Backyard, 2006 5" x 6" silverpoint

My recent series of drawings are idiosyncratic, intimately scaled images derived from personal memories, boyhood fantasies, and the visual environment of my home in the upper mid-west. Carefully drawn in graphite or silverpoint, they are modest in scale, often not much larger than a credit card. Despite their size, they are vivid and dense with information, giving the impression of vast worlds compressed into a tiny field of vision. Through the filter of memory, a sense of unease emerges. Distant storms and contrails mark hazy summer skies, and an eerie stillness permeates. Objects are veiled or covered with drapery, then sometimes revealed and other times left mysterious. Alluding to fears just below the surface, or to the incompleteness of recall, the drapes become shrouds for lost memories. Drawing drapery in silverpoint opens a dialog with the work of old masters that intersects with the contemporary imagery of swimming pools, backyards, and median strips, in a vain attempt to connect these spaces and memories with something more timeless and permanent. The images are frozen, but seem fragile and transient, just barley stained into the surface of the paper. Silverpoints slowly change over time, alternately fading and returning depending on their stage of chemical transformation. These images speak to the transience of life, culture, and memory, and the underlying anxiety of our impermanent situation.

Scott Espeseth

Thursday, March 8, 2007

selected disasters

Nicole Schulman
march 8 - april 28, 2007

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”
-Bertolt Brecht

New paintings and original comic art by Nicole Schulman: artist, cartoonist and editor of "World War 3 Illustrated" and "Wobblies!: A Graphic History".
Nicole Schulman’s work straddles the divide between high and low in the art world. In the chunky middle ground between the two, there is a place where political action, fine art, and comic illustration meet.
Schulman’s chosen medium is scratch board, a technique where drawings are scratched into ink painted over a thin layer of white clay laid over poster board or stiff paper. The marriage of this technique and Schulman’s working of it sends her chosen subjects into relief.
Her mastery of scratch board gives way to expressionistic depiction's of real life struggles. Throwing the plight of her subjects into high relief, Schulman adds the deft touch of humanity that marks all great works of art. Her work is a visual translation of the innate beauty of suffering and struggle that sometimes leads to triumph, sometimes to tragedy.

A native New Yorker, this radical artist's work has been exhibited in New York, Ravenna, Tel Aviv, and Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, as well as squat house walls across the US, Asia, and Europe. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, has adorned placards and banners at antiwar demonstrations and union picket lines, published in The New York Times and World War 3 Illustrated (the longest running radical comics zine in the U.S.), and pirated by Greek Anarchists. With Paul Buhle she edited and contributed to Wobblies, a pictorial account of the struggles of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and is coeditor for the activist semiannual World War 3 Illustrated. Featured in this exhibition are original works from World War 3 Illustrated #37: Unnatural Disasters

Mary-Beth Shine

Thursday, January 11, 2007

notes of land and sky

left: Notes of Land & Sky III
ink on paper
right: Notes of a River's Edge I
Acrylic on paper, 8 in. x 6 in.

Karl Pilato
january 11 - march 3, 2007

Featuring a new series of abstract works on paper. Pilato embraces the directness and simplicity of ink to create complex and subtle images. Inspired by traditional Chinese landscape paint-ing, these works evoke elemental nature. Pilato layers richly varied marks and tones, contrasting wet washes with dry scrubs, to gradually build areas of dense blacks, with delicate transitions to luminously white paper. The white paper is boundless space. The marks of ink are tumbling form, flirting rhythmically with structure, never arriving at a static idea of landscape as they come out of and return to boundless space. Each piece dis-plays its unique sense of spontaneity, rhythm and wholeness while it can also be seen in conversation with the rest of the series. The view-er’s eye follows the cascading and rising movements from one piece to the next like following a piece of music or unrolling a Chinese scroll painting. Pilato exhibits a voice of both depth and clarity through the simple elegance of ink on paper.

Karl Pilato received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1997 and his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in 2001. He has been awarded resi-dencies by the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon. His work was featured in a solo exhibition at Butters Gallery in Portland, Oregon in 2003.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

a poem

Gwendolyn Skaggs
november 2 - january 6, 2007

Using color photographs as syll-ables, words, and phrases, a poem, a recent work of art by Gwendolyn Skaggs, embraces and portrays essential structural elements of poetry in a compelling visual narrative. Thoughtfully ordered, the differing images are linear in arrangement, rhythmic in character, and punctuated horizontally along the wall with occasional breaks that visually intone a modification of context, or broadening of metaphor. The small vignettes gain momentum towards an ever developing verse in staccato. Each image carries its own distinctive resonance and when experienced in a line, either one to one, or group to group, their serial effect creates a cohesive visual lyricism that evokes the presence of a tangible, delicately rendered poem.

Gwendolyn Skaggs

Haiku is a style of prose poetry. It is a form of Japanese poetry, the late 19th century revision by Masaoka Shiki of the older hokku, the opening verse of a linked verse form, haikai no renga. The traditional hokku consisted of a pattern of approximately 5, 7, 5 on. The Japanese word on, meaning "sound", corresponds to a mora, a phonetic unit similar but not identical to the syllable of a language such as English. (The words onji, ("sound symbol") or moji (character symbol) are also sometimes used.) A haiku contains a special season word (the kigo) representative of the season in which the renga is set, or a reference to the natural world.
Hokku usually combine two (or rarely, three) different phrases, with a distinct grammatical break (kireji) usually at the end of either the first five or second seven morae. These elements of the older hokku are considered by many to be essential to haiku as well, although they are not always included by modern writers of Japanese "free-form haiku" and of non-Japanese haiku. Japanese haiku are typically written as a single line, while English language haiku are tra-ditionally separated into three lines.

example of hokku:
Oku no Hosomichi (1689)
The rough sea / stretching out towards Sado / the Milky Way.

In Japanese, nouns do not have different singular and plural forms, so 'haiku' is usually used as both a singular and plural noun in English as well.

Hokku or haiku?
Hokku were always written in the wider context of haikai no renga, either actually or theoretically (even when printed individually). At the end of the 19th century, Shiki separated the opening verse from the linked form and applied the term haiku to it. Because it was only after this separation that the term became popular, scholars agree that it is technically incorrect to label hokku by pre-Shiki writers "haiku", a common practice in the 20th century. The persistent confusion on the topic is exemplified by David Barnhill's anthology Basho¯'s Haiku (2005): in spite of the title, Barnhill admits that "the individual poems that Basho¯ created are, properly speaking, "hokku", and that he used the term haiku because it seemed more familiar. They were some of the most popular poems in Japan in the 16th century.

Haiku is one of the most happy and important forms of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consist-ing of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means "starting verse", and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain. Though there are a variety of approaches to the translation of Haiku poetry (all of which help us to explore the issues involved in translation from the Japanese), Haiku are normally translated into (and written in) English using 3 lines.