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Archive for November, 2017

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves…

Hermann Hesse, Trees: Reflections and Poems

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The painting at the top is titled The Spirit Tree and is part of my show, Sensing the Unseen, that opens tomorrow at the Kada Gallery. It is 11″ by 15″ on paper.

Trees have always held a firm spot in my heart as symbols of strength, wisdom and calm perseverance. My early memories of childhood often revolved around the black walnut trees in our yard and the hardwoods on the hill behind it. When I was among those trees I felt at home, safely in a realm that moved at pace that was beyond our own idea of time. Ageless.

Even now while the world teeters on the edges of chaos, walking among the trees is a source of great comfort, letting me know that as dire as it may seem this period of time is but a hiccup in the great continuum of the time of trees.

And that is how I look at this piece and the central tree. It stands strong and with an air of ageless wisdom, creating a band of light between the darkness of the earthly dwellings and that of the foreboding sky. As Hesse wrote above, like the most penetrating preacher.

That piece of writing at the top is from Hermann Hesse is from an essay in his book, Trees: Reflections and Poems. It’s a piece of writing that I adore and have posted here before. To read the longer version of this essay  click here.


Sensing the Unseen is now hanging at the Kada Gallery in Erie. The show opens with a reception tomorrow, Friday, December 1, running from 6-9 PM. I will be there to answer your questions or just shoot the breeze. I look forward to seeing and meeting you there.

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“Split the Darkness” -Part of the Kada Gallery Show

Well, the show is in place at the Kada Gallery and I can take a deep breath. Sensing the Unseen opens December 1, this coming Friday evening with a reception that runs from 6-9 PM.

I haven’t done a count but I’ve done a number of solo shows with Kathy and Joe DeAngelo at the Kada Gallery in the almost 22 years I have been showing my work with them. They were only the second gallery to take on my work those many years back and have always been strong advocates for my work so I try to go a bit extra for them. And I believe this show lives up to my wishes.

Here’s a simple slideshow of the show. Take a look and if you can, come out to the gallery this Friday. I look forward to talking with you.

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Sensing the Unseen

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 

― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley

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Omega Tree

Friday is the opening for my show, Sensing the Unseen, at the Kada Gallery. In my opinion, it’s a strong show with some interesting groupings within it. For instance there are several snow scenes, something I normally have done only once in a great while in the past. There was something different in painting these scenes this time however, something I can’t really identify except to say that these seemed more expressive right as the paint left the brush.

I really just enjoyed painting these. Finding the subtle colors in the white of the snow and sky was fascinating and rewarding. It just felt good as I definitely was immersed during the process.

Time is short today as I am delivering the show at the Kada Gallery, but I thought I would show the group of snow paintings together here. Come out to the gallery to see them in person. They always look better up close, in front of you, rather than on a screen.

Mystery of the Unseen

Through the Valley of Quiet

Cool Wonder

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“How can it be that I’ve never seen that lofty sky before? Oh, how happy I am to have found it at last. Yes! It’s all vanity, it’s all an illusion, everything except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing – that’s all there is. But there isn’t even that. There’s nothing but stillness and peace. Thank God for that!”

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

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There’s something about this new painting that has wonderful calming effect for me. I find it easy to ease myself into this piece for a few moments, leaving behind for that time all the worries and concerns that are eating at me.

When I was looking at this painting in the studio I felt like I was looking at an aquarium or a terrarium, something that was right there in front of me but separate from me, a world unto itself, a unique eco-system that exists only in that one place. But instead of seeing fish or reptiles or plants, this was a self-contained world of peaceful feeling- a placidarium.

So, that is the title– Placidarium— that I have chose for this 12″ by 12″ painting that will be part of my show at the Kada Gallery that opens this Friday. It’s a painting that I will be sad to see go – a working placidarium is hard thing to come by these days.

 

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You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.

― Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

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This is another new painting that is headed to the Kada Gallery for my show, Sensing the Unseen, that is opening there on Friday, December 1. It is titled Resist the Dark and is 8″ by 24″ on canvas.

There are a lot of possible interpretations for this piece, the most obvious being to the current state of affairs in this country and the resistance of many citizens to the actions of this administration as they seek to strip away many protections– financial, environmental and regulatory– that seem to only benefit the wealthiest of us and leave many of us vulnerable to the whims of large corporations. You may not feel this way– and if not, I both envy and pity you– but many folks feel like this country is living under a dark cloud at this point and without resistance it will only get darker.

This resistance to an impending darkness is the most obvious reading of this piece but it can also be taken to a more personal level, one where each of us has to stand our ground again the darker impulses we see being played out every day. We cannot personally fall prey to feelings and actions borne of hatred and prejudice nor can we stand idly by while others act out their own hatreds and prejudices.

Each of us is a barrier, a dam, against the baseness and incivility that is always ready to flood over us, if given the chance. There have been breaches in the dam as of late, these darker aspects getting bolder and stronger. It grows because it is allowed to do so, because many find it easier to accept the darkness rather than stand firm and shine their light into it.

Don’t let that darkness become your darkness.

If each of us stands our ground, even when it seems we are alone in doing so, the darkness will recede and return to the far corners where it has lived in anonymous shame for so long. And that is the only place where it should exist, which is still more than anything that thrives on hatred, fear and prejudice deserves.

Okay, that’s enough for this Sunday morning. Here’s a song from the 1960’s from the late, great pianist/composer Vince Guaraldi who you most likely know from his iconic music for the Charlie Brown specials. You most likely will hear a lot of his music from  A Charlie Brown Christmas this holiday season. Unlike some holiday music, I never get tired of hearing his stuff. This song is not a holiday song however. This song, Cast Your Fate to the Wind -which seems to fits this painting- was released in 1962, winning the Grammy for Best Jazz Composition, and has been recorded many, many times by other artists. It’s a nice way to kick off a Sunday morning.

Give a listen and have a great day. And resist the darkness…

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The thought manifests as the word;

The word manifests as the deed;

The deed develops into habit;

And habit hardens into character;

So watch the thought and its ways with care,

And let it spring from love

Born out of concern for all beings…

 

As the shadow follows the body,

As we think, so we become.

 

 —From the DhammapadaSayings of the Buddha

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I’ve been writing this blog for over five years [actually, it’s nine years now] which I find hard to believe. Some days I have nothing to say but still feel the need to keep this habit alive. Sometimes I read through older blog posts to gather inspiration and in doing so, I came across this bit of wisdom from the Buddha that I featured in a 2009 post.

When I used it at that time, I was referring to people’s words and deeds of incivility eventually hardening into character. For example, if you speak with anger and hatred constantly, it eventually becomes a permanent part of who you are. This was of course inspired by extremist nature of the political climate. But today when I read it, these words didn’t strike me in that cautionary way.

Instead, it was more inspirational, seeming like good advice for the young artist or anyone aspiring to something more. For me it was: Think as an artist, act as an artist. Eventually, the thoughts, words and actions become part of who you are– an artist. It took many years before this habit hardened into character. I often questioned the validity of the claim over the years but slowly these doubts faded, replaced by a belief in those words and deeds. I had practiced the habit of being an artist for so long that I could no longer  feel that doubt.

As I said, this applies to so many things, even simply being happy. If you think of joy, speak of joy and act with joy and eventually happiness becomes part of who you truly are– a part of your hardened character.

It’s a simple precept, almost too simple to be taken seriously especially on those days when it is challenging to remain joyful. But it holds true, as the Buddha instructed, for those who can maintain the way.

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The painting at the top is “The Kinship” which is included in the Kada Gallery show.

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But I believe above all that I wanted to build the palace of my memory, because my memory is my only homeland.

Anselm Kiefer

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I came across this quote from artist Anselm Kiefer and it immediately struck a chord with me.

There is always a nagging question running through my mind about the purpose of my painting, at least for myself. The why behind the what. And this brief quote seemed to capture some of what I have been thinking about that.

While I am attached to the area in which I live, a place that my family has been in for about two hundred years now, I have come to feel that the landscape in my paintings is my real homeland. It is a construct built from memories and imaginings, a place that feels real but allows for exaggeration and embellishment.

When I visit real places from my childhood, I only see them briefly as they really are in the present. Then they revert to the image drawn in my memory–my real and only homeland. The body of my work is in a way a palace of that memory, a residence for what I am, was or will ever be.

I call the painting shown here, The Palace of My Memory, of course. It is 12″ by 6″ on panel and is part of my show, Sensing the Unseen, that opens in Erie’s Kada Gallery next Friday, December 1. I am excited by this show and am looking forward to seeing it all together on the walls of the gallery. Hope you can make it.

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