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My Icons & Exiles exhibit opens tonight at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. There is an opening reception that runs from 7-9 PM. The show hangs in the gallery until September 20. If you’re in the area, please stop in and I’ll be glad to spend some time telling you some of the stories behind the work in this show.

And there are a lot of stories in this show.

Much of the work in this show is from what I consider my three most personal series of paintings, the Exiles, the Outlaws and the Icons. For example, the painting at the top is the first painting completed in the Exiles series back in 1995 and is titled A Prayer For Light. For myself, from a standpoint of meaning, it might be the most important painting I’ve done. It hasn’t been displayed publicly in well over 20 years.

I am proud of this show and believe it is an interesting exhibit, one that I hope will provoke thought in those who see it. The Patterson Library is a beautiful building and the Octagon Gallery is a wonderful space in which to show work.  I hope you can make it to the lovely town of Westfield to see it.

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ICONS & EXILES

Now at the Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library, Westfield, NY 

Runs From Friday, August 23- Friday, September 20, 2019

Opening Reception Friday, August 23, 7-9 PM

Art Talk Thursday, September 12, 6-7 PM

As I’ve noted here recently, my Icons & Exiles show begins tomorrow evening with an opening reception from 7-9 PM in the Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. One of the things that most attracted me to accepting the invitation to do this show was the opportunity to exhibit work that has seldom, if ever, been shown in public. This includes the little piece below, a small painting from around 1997 that has been a personal favorite for all that time. I am reposting a blog entry about this painting from back in 2010. Hope you can make it out to see it in the show.

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More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones

— Mother Theresa

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This is a little piece that I did many years ago, one that never made it out of the studio. A piece that is really for me.  I can’t say that it’s a great piece of work or even good. But that doesn’t matter because it’s one of my personal favorites. It’s informally called Be Careful What You Wish For after the old adage: Be careful what you wish because you may just get it. I always bear this saying in mind to remind myself that with everything you desire there is a responsibility, a price to be paid that may not be evident on its surface.

 The unconsidered consequences we often fail to ponder when making wishes and decisions.

Kind of like the story of The Monkey’s Paw, the old tale where a family receives a monkey’s paw from a friend who has just died. The paw is a talisman with the supposedly mystical power to grant the holder three wishes. The family wishes for money and their son is killed in a horrific accident and they receive a large amount of money from his insurance policy. After the funeral, they are stricken with grief and they wish for their son to be alive again.  Soon, there is a knock at their door. It is their son–alive. But he is still horribly mutilated from the accident and in extreme agony. They use the third wish to wish him dead again.

This painting also reminds me of Pandora’s Box, where Pandora is given a box (or jar, depending on how the story is told) by the god Zeus with the instructions to not open it under any circumstance. Of course, she does. Immediately, all the evils in the world are released and in her panic, she slams the lid back down, trapping Hope in the box.

The man with the shovel in the hole here seems to be in the same situation. In my mind, he was digging for things that were better left alone and they soon flew from the pit he had dug, even as he feverishly tried to fill in the hole. What exactly they are, I am not sure. There is a giant or a troll that peeks from beneath a tree. Perhaps they are demons. Or regrets. Or lesser versions and aspects of the digging person, things he has been keeping inside for all his life.

Things that were better left alone.

Like many things, I am not sure. Whatever the case, it remains a little painting that always triggers thought in me. That’s probably why it remains a favorite.

Yesterday, I delivered the work for my Icons & Exiles show to the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. I have to admit that the gallery isn’t anything like the image of it I imagined when I was approached a couple of years ago to do this exhibit. But seeing the space and the library again put any doubts I had to rest. What a great gallery space! And the library is such a beautiful building! Both the gallery and the library are gems.

I am actually excited to see this group of work in this space.

The work for this show primarily consists of work from my early Exiles series along with my more recent Icons series. There is also a smaller group from my 2006 Outlaws series along with a variety of pieces that don’t fit into any series. They are just favorites of mine, personal paintings that I think are pretty interesting.

There are also two pieces from my Archaeology series including the painting shown at the top, Archaeology: A New History. This painting hasn’t been shown in many years and is, at 36″ by 48″, the largest painting of this series. It is one of my favorites from this series so I am pleased to have it back out in public view as part of this show.

I think this will be an interesting show, one that has a more narrative feel than my typical shows. There are many stories being told in these paintings.

I know that Westfield is a bit out of the way for many folks. For my friends in Erie, where my work has shown at the Kada Gallery there for the past 24 years, it is a 30 mile trek and for those in my home area it’s a few hours drive. But it takes you by lovely Lake Chautauqua and its famous institute and Westfield itself is a peach of a town. Hopefully, this show will make the trip worthwhile.

So, if you find yourself out around Lake Chautauqua or,over a short distance, closer to Lake Erie this Friday, August 23, between 7 and 9 PM, please stop in and take a look at the Icons & Exiles show at the Octagon Library at the historic Patterson Library.

I’ll be glad to tell you some stories.

On the road today, off to deliver the work for my Icons & Exiles show that opens Friday at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. It’s out in the rural reaches of far western New York, where the foothills of the the Alleghenies flatten into rolling plains that take you to the shores of Lake Erie.

It’s a different sort of show for me, one that allows me to show my most personal work, much of which has not been shown in public for twenty plus years, if ever. There’s a certain exhilaration in seeing this lesser known work that makes it a bit different than my normal shows. It should be an interesting show.

Have a good day. Here’s an appropriate tune for cruising those long empty stretches of highway out in western NY. It’s Canned Heat  with Going Up The Country.

Questionnaire

The Gallery Talk was a bit of fun on Saturday at the West End Gallery. But more than that, it gave me a bit of hope being in the midst of people who were concerned at that moment with things that affirm our own existence rather than condemn the existence of others. As I said in the talk, I am pro-affirmation. It became a running joke on Saturday but I would like to believe it is true.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more of those who condemn the existence of others out there today. Maybe it is the same amount as always. But they feel emboldened and have the ear of a president* who will say and do anything to maintain his control.

And along with them, there are a lot of folks who have refused to pay attention and just assume that it will work itself out without them needing to lift a finger or even think about it. These folks are the ones who really worry me, maybe more than those who willingly hate others, who willingly despoil our world, who knowingly twist the rule of law and gleefully profit from it all.

These folks who just turn a blind eye enable them because they think they have no power to stop anything. They accept a gentle cut here or there. It doesn’t hurt anyone they know so what’s the harm? But in doing so, they move the line for what is acceptable and normal away from where it has been for generations. Soon, the cuts are not gentle any more and hurt some of the people around them, maybe even themselves. And the line for what is normal keeps moving away from them to create a world they couldn’t have imagined when they weren’t paying attention.

They will be as powerless then as they feel now. But, in fact, they have the power to stop much of it now if they simply open their eyes and refuse to accept this new normal. They must pay attention, they must speak out, to act if needed. But most of all, they must be willing to say “No.”

How do you make these sleeping giants understand that they need to turn their eyes to this situation? That’s a tough one. The great poet Wendell Berry wrote this poem below, Questionnaire, back in 2009 and it asks us how much awfulness we are willing to accept as normal. We need to answer with great honesty if we want to live in a world that is acceptable and beneficial for the most of us.

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QUESTIONNAIRE
by Wendell Berry

  1. How much poison are you willing
    to eat for the success of the free
    market and global trade? Please
    name your preferred poisons.
  2. For the sake of goodness, how much
    evil are you willing to do?
    Fill in the following blanks
    with the names of your favorite
    evils and acts of hatred.
  3. What sacrifices are you prepared
    to make for culture and civilization?
    Please list the monuments, shrines,
    and works of art you would
    most willingly destroy.
  4. In the name of patriotism and
    the flag, how much of our beloved
    land are you willing to desecrate?
    List in the following spaces
    the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
    you could most readily do without.
  5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
    the energy sources, the kinds of security,
    for which you would kill a child.
    Name, please, the children whom
    you would be willing to kill.

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Before the Gallery Talk

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Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me around
I feel numb, born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It’s okay, I know nothing’s wrong, nothing

David Byrne, This Must Be the Place

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I was looking for a piece of music to play for this week’s Sunday morning music that kind of jibed with the experience of yesterday’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery and I came across the lyrics for This Must Be the Place from David Byrne and Talking Heads. Had to laugh because the first two stanzas, shown above, described my feelings about it perfectly.

I certainly begin every talk feeling that home is where I want to be.

I feel like I am picked up and turned around for examination.

Certainly feel numb and a little vulnerable, a little weak of heart.

But I guess I must be having fun.

That’s just the first stanza. I don’t have to paraphrase the second. It’s spot on as it is.

Many, many, many thank you’s to everyone who came out to yesterday’s Gallery Talk. You were a fantastic group.

And an exceptionally large on. We brought in extra chairs but by about twenty to one, when the talk was to begin, all of the seats were filled. A lot more folks came in after that  and had to stand. We may have to bring in bleachers and a warm up act for next year’s talk!

But it was the folks that were there yesterday that made this talk successful and, dare I say, fun. It was a wonderful mixture of people, young and old, new faces and familiar faces. They asked great questions, overlooked my gaffes, laughed at the right times and made me feel like I was having a casual conversation with some friends over a lunch table. That is a remarkable thing for a guy who would always rather be in his studio alone.

But yesterday, for that hour or so, in that gallery with a large group of friends to talk with, it certainly felt like that must be the place. That’s a gift to me and I can’t tell you how appreciative I am to receive that gift from all who were there yesterday. Thank you so much.

Going to be hard to top this year’s talk but next year, but we’ll try. I promise someone will get that Gremlin next year!

Here’s a great performance of This Must Be the Place from Talking Heads. Have a great day.

Hey, I am upping the ante on the prizes for the free drawing at today’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery. In addition to the painting, Night Oath, shown above, that will be given away, I am going to be giving away a car.

That’s right- a car.

It’s the sweet 1970 AMC Gremlin shown here on the right.

Okay, it needs a little work, maybe a little buffing here and there.

Maybe a new air freshener to hang where the rearview mirror used to be.

And a passenger seat. And tires.

And a new transmission.

But on the plus side, it does come with a roof rack and and a couple of old lawn chairs in the back. And a family of squirrels that lives under the back seat.

You know, just reading this has brought me to the realization that I can’t bear to part with such a gem. We’ll have to get along without this as a prize today.

So, here’s the deal:

Gallery Talk begins at 1 PM at the West End Gallery on Corning’s beautiful Market Street.

It is free and open to everyone. 

There will be a little talk along with a lot of questions taken and a few answers given in return.

At least one painting, Night Oath, will be given away in a free drawing at the end of the talk.

There will be some other goodies given away. No Gremlins, I swear.

There will be refreshments.

We anticipate a decent sized crowd so get there early to claim your seat and get signed up for the drawing.

I guarantee that it will be less painful than a poke in the eye. Might even be fun.

Hope you can make it in. If so, I’ll see you in a little while. Good luck!

 

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