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Archive for June, 2019

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Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Leonard Cohen, Dance Me to the End of Love

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The painting above, 8″ by 16″ on canvas, is a smaller piece headed to my upcoming solo show at the West End Gallery. The intertwined trees in this piece refer back to my Baucis and Philemon paintings which are are symbolic representations of the Greek myth of the poor elderly couple who show the god Zeus unlimited kindness when he shows up in their village dressed as a beggar. He spares their lives alone when he destroys the village and rewards them with an eternity bound together as two trees on a hill.

This piece definitely reminds me of the tale. Maybe it’s the deep and dark threat that is posed from the clouds. Perhaps these clouds represent the wrath of Zeus while the clearing sky on the horizon represents eternity.

I don’t know for sure.

But it is a striking piece, one that is very simple to take in yet has the depth I want for it.

I am calling it Dance Me to the End of Love after the song chosen for this Sunday morning music. It is from Leonard Cohen from 1984. Interestingly, the song has Greek roots, its composition following that of a Greek folk dance performed through the centuries by members of the butcher’s guilds. It is often referred to as the Hasapiko, translating to the Butcher’s Dance.

So, give a listen. Have a good day, okay?

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Moments and Color, my annual solo exhibit at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY, opens on Friday, July 12 with an opening reception running from 5-7:30 PM. It is, as always, open to the public.

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Leger/ Loving Art

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Above all, it is a matter of loving art, not understanding it.

–Fernand Leger
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And if they had the words I could tell to you
To help you on your way down the road
I couldn’t quote you no dickens, shelley or keats
‘Cause it’s all been said before
Make the best out of the bad, just laugh it off
You didn’t have to come here anyway, so remember
Every picture tells a story don’t it?
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I wrote yesterday that I was extra busy getting ready for my upcoming West End Gallery show, that opens in three weeks, on July 12. Well, nothing has changed so I am just going to share a song that has been running through my head since yesterday morning. It’s Every Picture Tells a Story from the 1971 Rod Stewart album of the same name. I am not the biggest Rod Stewart fan but at that point in time he was really dealing and this song is an absolute gem.

I included a new smaller piece from the show. This song made me think about this painting. There is definitely a narrative in it. What story does it tell? I am thinking of a title of One and Many Lives for it. I see the Red Tree in the central panel as moving from one house to the other, a symbolic transition. We may have one life but we are often many people within it.

There’s a story in there somewhere.

Got work to do. Have yourself a good and great day.

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I am buried in work right now as I prepare for my upcoming annual solo show at the West End Gallery in Corning.  This year’s show is titled Moments and Color and opens on Friday, July 12, with an opening reception that runs from 5-7:30 PM. I will be providing more details on the show and the work in it over the coming weeks.

There will also be a Gallery Talk taking place on Saturday, August 17 beginning at 1 PM. There will be, of course, plenty of details on this talk beforehand as it is generally a pretty popular and entertaining event. If you’ve come to one, you know what I mean.

The piece at the top is one of the larger paintings in the show, coming in at 30″ by 40″. It was going to be titled In the Gardens of Splendor but I have settled now on Moments and Color: Big Placid. [ Note: Actually, there was a bit of confusion and this painting is titled Moments and Color: Big Placid (In the Garden of Splendors) which is a mouthful. But then again, it’s a big painting]

So, mark your calendars and pardon me– I’ve got lots of work to get done!

 

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.

-Voltaire

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[I watched a few minutes of interviews with some backers of our president* at his rally last night. I was struck by their absolute confidence even as they spoke words that were far removed from reality. This certitude worries me. How do you establish a working relationship with someone who simply denies all tangible proof that is contrary to their beliefs? It reminded me of this post from five years ago. My uncertainty now is much as it was then.]

Much of my work seemingly has a journey or a quest as its central theme. But the odd thing is that I don’t have a solid idea of what the object is that I am seeking in this work. I have thought it was many things over the years, things like wisdom and knowledge and inner peace and so on. But it comes down to a more fundamental level or at least I think so this morning. It may change by this afternoon.

I think I am looking for an end to doubt or at least coming to an acceptance of my own lack of answers for the questions that have often hung over us all.

I would say the search is for certainty but as Voltaire points out above, certainty is an absurd condition. That has been my view for some time as well. Whenever I feel certainty coming on in me in anything I am filled with an overriding anxiety.

I do not trust certainty.

I look at it as fool’s gold and when I see someone speak of anything with absolute certainty–particularly politicians and televangelists– I react with a certain degree of mistrust, probably because I see this absolutism leading to an extremism that has been the basis for many of the worst misdeeds throughout history. Wars and holocausts, slavery and genocide–they all arose from some the beliefs held by one party in absolute certainty.

So maybe the real quest is for a time and place where uncertainty is the order of the day, where certainty is vanquished. A place where no person can say with any authority that they are above anyone else, that anyone else can be subjugated to their certainty.

To say that we might be better off in a time with no certainty sounds absurd but perhaps to live in a time filled with absolute certainty is even more so.

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This is my busiest point of my year. It is the short turnaround period between my two annual shows, the one currently hanging at the Principle Gallery and the one at the West End Gallery that opens this year on Friday, July 12. I try to have much of the work for the West End show ready before the Principle Gallery show but there is still a lot of painting to be done. As a result, every day between the two shows is packed.

It’s crazy busy but in some ways it is my favorite time of my year. The work comes in large bursts of energy and there is little time to think about it or worry about it or do much of anything else. It just comes out.

Of course, there are days when it all seems to crash a bit. Like the other day when nothing seemed to work for me. I couldn’t get the clean color I wanted and my hands seemed to belong to someone else for awhile as I lost my touch with the brush. It was frustrating all the way around that day and it made me panic a bit. But the next day everything was back to normal and the work was back at full roar. Even the work from the ugly day before was rehabilitated.

All this being said, my original intent was to say that I was much too busy to write anything today and would instead just play a video of a song. Maybe one that could get my motor running this morning.

So here it is, She’s Drunk All the Time, from Tim Timebomb and Friends. Actually, Tim Timebomb is Tim Armstrong who formed the L.A. ska punk band Rancid in the 90’s. His bandmates here are from the Interrupters who had a song that I featured on this blog last month. It’s a fun, high energy song that is a good kickoff to what I hope will be a fruitful day.

Hope yours is as well.

 

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Beauty should be shared for it enhances our joys.
To explore its mystery is to venture towards the sublime.

-Joseph Cornell
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Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) was a self taught assemblage artist known for his shadowbox pieces. I have always found his work fascinating. There’s a feeling of ultimate mystery in many of the pieces, one that makes me feel as though I am looking at something that is both familiar and alien. Like seeing a sentence in a foreign language where you can pick out a word or two but can’t grasp the meaning of the whole.
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