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Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

I do a one-man show every June at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA and have done so since the year 2000. This year’s show, my 21st such show, is slated to open June 5. I am keeping hope alive that the current situation will have subsided to some degree and that the show can go on by that time but the experts’ projections, based on what little data they can obtain from our inadequate testing, make it look a little shaky.

But I am continuing to work on this show on the premise that the show will go on.

It’s what I do. All I can do.

That being said, I have determined that this year’s show should reflect this time. At least, my take on it. To that end I am calling the show Social Distancing. It’s a term that, while it has really taken hold in this world in recent times, I don’t think I have encountered much before now.

I have practiced it and painted it in many ways but just didn’t know to call it that.

From my earliest days, much of my work has dealt with the duality that runs along that line between solitude and alienation. The yin and yang, the joy and the sorrow, that comes from being apart from others. Many of my series have focused on this separation, the Exiles and Outlaws series jumping to mind.

But even my most used archetype, the Red Tree, usually concerns itself with distancing.  It almost always is alone or at least apart from other trees. Most of the time, it is about finding strength in recognizing those things which makes us unique individuals but occasionally it is about feeling alienated from the rest of the world.

Some find empowerment in their solitude. I believe that’s been the case for myself as I have seldom felt loneliness, especially in my adult years. But for many, that line between simply being alone and lonely is a thin one.

Solitude and silence can be frightening to those unaccustomed to it.

This being the case, there will be a pretty substantial nod to my earlier work, such as the painting at the top. It’s a 14″ by 24″ piece on paper that I call Social Distancing: Approaching Storm. I guess it’s a timely title.

For me, this return to that earlier method which focuses on sparse landscapes and big blocks of transparent color is like comfort food to me. The more I immerse myself in this work the more I understand what its appeal was to myself and those folks who were drawn to it in the early days. Working on this group over the past week or so has been steadying in the face of the great uncertainty we face.

I could say more but I think I want to stop. Hopefully, the show will go on, at least in some form.

I am going back to the solitude of my work now.

It’s what I do. It’s all I can do.

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Social Distancing, this year’s edition of my annual show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria opens June 5.

Stay tuned for further details.

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Love, whether newly born, or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance that it overflows upon the outward world.

–Nathaniel Hawthorne

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A few choice words for this Valentine’s Day from Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is not someone who normally comes immediately to mind when one thinks of love and romance. But creating sunshine and filling the heart with radiance,as he put it, is not the province of any one writer.

I have plenty to do so I am going to keep this short today. Here’s a wonderful version from the immortal Nat King Cole performing the classic Embraceable You, written by George Gershwin back in 1928. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day. Or if the holiday doesn’t really move you, enjoy your Friday. Either way, it’s a win.

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When men sow the wind

it is rational to expect

that they will reap the whirlwind.

–Frederick Douglass

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Amplified consequence.

In his 1892 essay, Lynch Law in the South, Frederick Douglass used the proverb from biblical book Hosea, to illustrate how man often sets things in motion that have results that extend far beyond– and often in stark opposition to– their intended goals. Douglass wrote that the deadly violence being shown against the black citizens of the south at that time would eventually come back to haunt those that perpetrated the deed or stood idly by, complicit in their silence.

The biblical proverb in Hosea was about how the the citizens of Israel of that time ( ca 725 BC, I believe) took to idolatry, the worship of false idols, and how their actions brought down upon them the wrath of God. In that book the author uses the concept of farming to make his point, that a  a single seed of grain sowed by a farmer returns to him many times over.

An amplified consequence.

Of course, the farmer can usually tell what the result of his sowing will be. X amount of seed will allow him to reap Y amount of grain at harvest under normal circumstances. Predictable.

But that same degree of predictability doesn’t apply to all other actions man sometimes sets in motion. While we might initially think we control the outcome, we sometimes put actions into motion — sow our seed– that we cannot control, that return to us with such amplification and intensity that we are overcome and sometimes decimated by the result.

One small, seemingly insignificant action, such as not paying attention to a rising dangerous wind, can sometimes turn into a maelstrom of destruction that we never saw coming.

Take that for what it’s worth, given the events in recent days in this country.

The painting at the top is called Into the Winds of Change and is part of the West End Gallery‘s annual Little Gems show that opens tonight with an opening reception from 5-7:30 PM. Hopefully, like the Red Tree here, we can stand against and overcome the whirlwind that may soon be upon us.

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“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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In times like these, it is even more important to consider the words above from the classic book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In days that often filled with anger, anxiety and sometimes despair, we must remember to take in the simple wonders that surround us, to pay notice to the beauty and magic of the natural world surrounding us.

As the death of the great actor Kirk Douglas yesterday reminds us, how much time is guaranteed for any of us here? Do we want to leave this world not having paid attention to the simple wonder within our reach?

I’e been in my current studio for over twelve years now and have looked out its windows tens of thousands of times. But even after all that gazing I still am able find new things to see. Trees I have never noticed. The way the sunlight comes through and hits certain limbs at a certain times. The way the wild turkeys gather under the maple trees beside the studio when its raining and face the house, sometimes gobbling at it as though they believe I can come out and shut off the rain.

If I could, I would do that for them.

Small things. Simple things. But wonders nonetheless.

I find myself sometimes stopping in the woods and looking around, taking notice of the small wonders within my sight. I try to take a snapshot in my mind of that place in that moment, thinking that if I were to suddenly pass away, I would have as an image to carry with me from my last day.

You would be surprised how much comfort I take in that little moment, standing still on a woody path.

This is the gist of what this painting at the top of page is saying to me. Titled In Simple Wonder, it’s part of the Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery that opens tomorrow evening.

 

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The annual Little Gems exhibit opens this coming Friday, February 7, at the West End Gallery in Corning. This is the 26th year that the West End has hosted this show and I am fortunate to have been along for the ride, going back to that first one in 1995 at their second story old gallery space.

That was my first experience showing my work publicly. I had no idea what to expect when I stood there, anxiously trying to blend into the background as people milled around the gallery, on that night of the first opening. But based on the past 25 years, things seem to have worked out okay.

For me and for the Little Gems show which has turned out to be a perennial favorite for fans of the West End Gallery. It is the most popular show there, year in and year out. It’s fun for most of the artists to make small work and perhaps try out new things. There are plenty of small but mighty paintings created for this show which allows attendees, be they avid or first-time collectors, to attain original and high quality pieces of art at obtainable prices.

This painting above is called Riding High. I haven’t looked back but I think a boat painting is part of my contribution for this show most years. It’s a theme and an image that translates well to a smaller scale, maintaining its full impact. By that, I mean that it seems bigger on the wall than it actually is.

A lot of the work throughout this show have that quality.

So, hope you can make it to the show this Friday, February 7. The opening reception begins at 5 PM and goes to 7:30. The show is hanging if you want to stop in for a preview and to claim a little gem for yourself.

Here’s a song from the late June Carter Cash‘s final album that I think lines up well with this painting. It’s a lovely old Carter Family song called Sinking in the Lonesome Sea.

Have a good day.

 

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“I’m not sure this will make sense to you but I felt as though I’d turned around to look in a different direction so that I no longer faced backward toward the past but forward toward the future. And now the question confronting me was this: What would the future be”

― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

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This small painting that is hanging as part of the Little Gems exhibit at the West End Gallery (opening Friday, February 7) is titled Memoir.

The thought behind that title was that that while the future seems uncertain as we look forward, our pasts as we recall them are often just as uncertain.

Our personal histories are a patchwork, like the sky in this painting, of half memories and dimly lit stories. Faces and names fade. Words once spoken are lost in the void. We have grainy snips and snaps of what we recall as significant moments and some surprisingly sharp images of insignificant moments that puzzle us, leaving us to wonder why they remain so clear.

Do they mean something more and we just don’t see their true meaning?

I looked at this small piece and wondered what I would include in my memoir. What would I pull from that haphazard patchwork that I would want to share now and into the future?

After sifting through the shards of broken memories, I come to the conclusion that I don’t want to write a memoir. Let my memoir show itself in my work, let my story be told in paint and line and shapes, a crude group of hieroglyphs that will no doubt go untranslated in generations to come.

Let the future, if it is so inclined, write my past. That shall be memoir enough for me.

For this Sunday morning music, here’s a song to go along with this painting. It’s the Nick Lowe pop classic, When I Write the Book.

Have a good Sunday.

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This is a new piece, Walking Blues, that is headed to the West End Gallery for the annual Little Gems exhibit, which opens on Friday, February 7. As I have mentioned here before, the Little Gems show occupies a special place in my heart. The 1995 show was the first time my work was ever shown to anyone outside of my family and a very few friends.

It was a life changer for me, the first real big step in moving from what felt like an old life into a new and altogether different life.

And it felt like that at the time. It was abundantly evident for me. It wasn’t one of those things that happens without you really feeling the gravity of what is taking place. I didn’t know where this path would lead me or if I could even stay on it for long. But I knew it was a new path that had, if I was willing to really commit and work for it, the potential to change my life in some way.

And it has.

While this coming show is actually my 26th Little Gems show, it marks 25 full years of doing this, of transforming my feelings into paint, embedding thought into material. Standing at that first one back in 1995, anxiously watching to see if anyone even looked at my work let alone showed interest, there was no idea that it would lead here.

Like so many things, I just didn’t know.

But I am glad for it. And thankful.

Hopefully, I will be reminiscing about that first show on the occasion of my 50th Little Gems exhibit, 25 years (well, actually 24 years) from now.

I don’t know but we’ll see.

Here’s a version of the great blues classic, Walkin’ Blues, whose title I pinched for this painting. It originally recorded by the legendary Robert Johnson but I thought this very unique performance by contemporary bluesman Guy Davis amidst the stark beauty of the snow and ice of Uummannaq, Greenland, 369 miles north of the Arctic Circle fit this little gem of a painting pretty well.

Have a good day.

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