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Very, very busy but I thought I’d pause for just a little Bellini this morning. Not the cocktail, though it is tempting on this particular morning. I am talking about my favorite Renaissance artist, the Italian painter Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516) who lived and painted in Venice.

While most of his work is religious in nature, as was almost art of that time, I am always thrilled and fascinated by his treatment of the background landscapes, especially in the way he composed them,  and his handling of color. His surfaces, on the few paintings of his that I have seen in person, are truly beautiful and seem to be fresh and new with colors, the blues in particular, that just pop off the surface.

Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

I have included a video to go along with a few pieces here that really spark me. Take  a look and have a great day.

Self Preservation

The title for my show opening July 14 at the West End Gallery is Self Preservation. The title also applies to the painting above, a 24″ by 36″ canvas, which is included in the show.

The title comes from how I have come to view the current state of this world over the past several years. Decades of insulating ourselves via the internet, content in our own little echo chambers where we are constantly pushed further away from others by figures hidden in the shadows of the web who profit by exploiting our division, have brought us to a state where misinformation is more prevalent that fact.

Where belief, however unfounded it may be, has an equal value with truth.

Where every event is recorded with multiple sets of alternate facts allowing each person to justify their point of view and belief.

Where every word and sentence is parsed to detect which way that person leans in their belief.

Where intolerance is tolerated.

Where rational discussion has been thrown over for a constant uncivil cacophony of screamed biases and opinions, a virtual Tower of Babel where there is a constant sound and fury yet no one hears a word being said but their own.

It is a maddening time, one that truly challenges our sanity, personally and as a whole.

It leads me to the question: How does one weather such a time, hows does one hold on to what they see as their own truth– who and what they are at their core– without being swept up in the ill winds that rake this world?

What does one hold on to for self preservation?

I don’t know that I have an answer that applies to anyone other than myself. But it’s all I have and, for now, that will have to suffice.

Self preservation for me comes in the inner world I visit in my paintings.

I see it as a place where truth and belief come together. It is place where there is an inherent sense of rightness, of calm rationality, of harmony, and of little anger.

And it is without hatred or prejudice. While it is my world and it is a place of tolerance, excluding no one.

I am free in this world. Safe. At peace. Part of a universe that understands me, that hears my voice and responds to my prayers and desires.

Oh, I don’t have to be told how foolish it all sounds. I know that it is an escape from the harshness and insanity that the world offers us at the moment. But it is a world in which I have lived happily for many years, more sane and content than I ever was before that world came to be.

Perhaps that is an answer that will work for others– to find that inner world for yourself where you can periodically retreat, even for a moment, to experience calmness and a sense of self.

I don’t know for sure. I just know that is has been a place of self preservation for me for decades now.

Excuse me, I have to head over there now…

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Self Preservation opens July 14 at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY.

 

There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in any day, with what seems like a thousand tasks gnawing at me to get done. A little anxious,  I am eager to get going but it is Sunday morning and my routine dictates that I dig out a song to play here on the blog.

This weeks features two versions of Bob Dylan‘s Everything Is Broken, a definite favorite of mine and a song that oddly fits almost any time and place. I chose the  first, which contains the song done by Dylan himself, because the video cracked me up. It’s done by someone from Italy, I think, who makes some interesting videos. I believe he just does it for himself and friends because none of them has a huge number of views. But his one caught my eye and makes me chuckle.

The second video is from longtime soul diva Bettye LaVette. I like to hear different takes on the same song, seeing how many artists take different approaches to the same material. Bettye’s version is pretty satisfying.

But you be the judge. Have a great day.


 

 

Mark Twain holds great say in our area. He spent many of his summers overlooking my native city, Elmira, and the Chemung River valley at Quarry Farm, where he wrote many of his best loved books. His family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery is a tourist attraction. Maybe that’s why I’ve always felt an affinity for the man and his writing.

Or maybe it was his inability to suffer fools, most notably those with great advantages and power. The current goings-on in DC, especially with the spite and greed that is accompanying the healthcare bill, have me swearing under my breath whenever I let the subject enter my mind. Keeping it out is a full-time and exhausting job.

So, today instead of venting, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Mark Twain-isms. Though some of this lines seem ornery and misanthropic, I think they reveal great compassion and empathy for the common man. I mean that in the singular sense. I like to believe that he was as leery of organizations, clubs, populist movements and, especially, those who reign over these groups as I am.

Plus they make me smile. And I need that these days, more than ever.

 

WoodSwimmer

Came across this interesting little short film this morning called WoodSwimmer. It is a stop motion film made by Brett Foxwell who describes his process as  “a straightforward technique but one which is brutally tedious to complete.” It involves taking continuous photographic cross-sectional scans of hardwood logs, burls and branches and sequencing them so that reveal the universe that exists within the wood, one that Foxwell sees in a sci-fi scenario as holding alien lifeforms in a world that is always near us, hidden in plain sight.

It’s a mesmerizing piece of film. To watch the movement of the material through the cross sections is like watching time itself  flowing, a fascinating rhythm unfolding before your eyes. In its simplest form, it is pleasing in a sheer aesthetic way with the beauty of its movement, colors and textures. Beyond that it, it raises questions on the nature of time and existence.

Take a look– it’s less than 2 minutes. And also take a look at Brett Foxwell’s website, bfophoto.com . It shows some of his other projects including a trailer for his stop-motion film, Fabricated, which was ten years in the making and has garnered many awards.

 

WoodSwimmer from bfophoto on Vimeo.

Real busy this morning but wanted to share some paintings and a short video/slideshow of the work of the great American Modernist painter John Marin, who was born in 1870 and died in 1953. He was a pioneer in the medium of watercolor as well as the merging of abstraction and realism in his paintings.

His transparent and translucent colors and the freedom with which he painted, along with the ever freshness of his work,  really inspired me early on. Each painting seemed to be an improvised performance, like a visual jazz riff. Though my style has diverged greatly from his, I still find myself wanting the looseness and immediacy of expression that his work so often displayed.

Take a look and a listen. The music behind this slideshow is Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose played by James P. Johnson who was a great pianist and composer, a pioneer in the stride style of jazz playing. Good stuff.

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“it was the kind of moon
that I would want to
send back to my ancestors
and gift to my descendants

so they know that I too,
have been bruised…by beauty.” 

Sanober Khan, Turquoise Silence

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I call this new painting, a 16″ by 8″ canvas, The Bruise of the Moon. I take the title from  the snippet above was taken from a poem, Tonight’s Moon, from the book Turquoise Silence from contemporary Indian poet, Sanober Khan.

I like this idea that beauty makes a deep impression, bruises us in a way. And that effect by the moon seems the perfect example as its beauty has been our companion since we first came to be here, however that may be.

Very often we pay little attention to the moon as it rises and falls through all our nights. We fail to notice its light and the path it traces across the sky as we focus on our earthly matters.

Yet, every so often, it refuses to be taken for granted and demands that we stop and take it in, to admire its cool and distant majesty. To make us consider that it has looked down on all that man has done in our relatively short time here, at least when compared the time that the Moon has looked down on our planet. To think that it has witnessed the conquests of Alexander the Great, the birth of Jesus, the explorations and sailors that circled the globe and so much more, including welcoming us as we came to visit it in the distant space it occupies.

It has watched us at our best and at our worst, forever a true companion to the most and least among us, almost leaving a mark, a bruise behind. It makes me wonder if that person who does not see the beauty in the moon even has the ability to see beauty in anything. It’s a thought that makes me sad because I can’t imagine what kind of person I would have to be to not feel the emotion that comes with witnessing the eternal and ageless beauty that the Moon brings us without fail.

This painting will be be included in my coming solo show, Self Preservation, at the West End Gallery which opens July 14.

 

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