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Thought I’d take it easy this morning and just share a song, as I do every Sunday morning. The painting here is a favorite of mine, Le Cirque from Georges Seurat, which is I believe is considered to be the last painting from the great French Pointillist.

I am not a big fan of circuses now but as child I had a slight fascination with them. I have distinct memories of watching lion tamers, acrobats and high wire walkers on a television show that used to be on Friday nights in the early and mid 1960’s. It was called International Showtime hosted by Don Ameche, featuring filmed performances from European circuses. I think my interest in the circus was mine alone in my family because I seem to remember watching this show alone.

It’s one of those things I moved past. I began to have a great dislike for animals (or children, for that matter) in cages and gained an understanding of the hardships and tragedies of the lives of many of the circus people. The glossy fascination of childhood dulled and the clowns that once made me smile now make me slightly sad.

But I still like this song very much. It has wonderful imagery that rekindles the lure of the circus a bit though it points out the seedier aspects that I didn’t notice as a 6 year old but which ultimately made the circus less appealing. This is a live performance of Wild Billy’s Circus Story from Bruce Springsteen from way back in 1973.

Sigh.

Have a good Sunday.

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Stopped in at the West End Gallery yesterday to see how the work from my new show, Moments of Color, looked on the walls.

I was pleased.

You can only get a small sense of how the work for a show will hang together when it’s still in the studio. The paintings are scattered all over, some in different rooms and some obstructing others. Almost none of them are in frames. I never get to see them fully presented, hanging clearly in direct relationship to one another.

So it’s always interesting to see how the show comes together on the walls, to see if a unifying theme emanates, and to see what pieces jump forward. In this case, the color mentioned in the show’s title is made abundantly clear. It is a show filled with color.

I’ve written here before about coming to painting because I wasn’t seeing the paintings I wanted to see, wasn’t experiencing the colors I wanted to feel. This  show comes close to meeting that desire for color, especially the fully saturated deep tones. They show themselves well on the gallery walls and actually serve as the unifying theme for the show. Even in the Multitudes pieces that feature masses of faces, it is the color of those pieces that binds them to the other works in this show.

One of the pieces, along with so many others, that seemed to jump off the wall for me was the piece shown above, La Belle Vie. That translates from French as the good life or the beautiful life. Either works for me. With its clarity of line and color in its skies, hills and flowerbeds along with its size, 36″ high by 18″ wide, it is a piece that has a real presence on the wall for my eyes.

As an artist, sensing that presence in a piece is an extremely gratifying feeling. It’s a feeling of completeness, as though I have done as much as I am capable of in this piece at this point in time. And that makes it a statement of who and what I am as an artist– and a person– at this point. I guess that kind of sums up my feelings on this painting.

Jesse and Lin have done a tremendous job hanging this show. Hope you can make the opening reception at the West End Gallery this coming Friday. It begins at 5 and runs until 7:30 PM. If not, hope you can stop in and take a look.

For this Sunday morning music, I have chosen a song called Beautiful Tango sung by Hindi Zahara, a Morocco born singer that is based in Paris. Love the feel and pace of this song. It seems to jibe well with La Belle Vie above. I could see the Red Tree dancing a tango here. Give a listen and have a good day.

 

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I want to live alone in the desert
I want to be like Georgia O’Keeffe
I want to live on the Upper East Side
And never go down in the street

Splendid Isolation
I don’t need no one
Splendid Isolation

–Warren Zevon, Splendid Isolation

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Over the next several days I will be showing paintings from my upcoming show, Moments and Color, that opens Friday, July 12, at the West End Gallery. Today is a piece called Pondering Solitude, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that was a favorite of mine during its time here in the studio.

Like much of my work, I can’t exactly put my finger on any one thing in this painting that makes it hit the mark for me. Maybe it’s something as simple as the color combinations or the way the light flows within the composition. Or just the simplicity of it as a whole. Or the feeling of warm solitude it emotes.

Again, I don’t know. That probably sounds strange to some of you. After all, I painted it so shouldn’t I know the entire what and why of a piece I have created? You would think so, wouldn’t you?

Oddly enough, in my best work–or at least what I feel is my best work– I have no answers. And that makes sense to me because the work is for me a way to get enough clarity to understand enough to be able to ask questions. Then, hopefully, answers emerge.

It’s hard to find answers when you don’t really know the questions.

And that is kind of the story of this piece. I see it as the Red Tree feeling a need for clarity and light, answers to questions that it can’t articulate, and finding solace in the light and warmth of its solitude.

There is more likely than not more to say here but I think I am leaving it at that for now.

I used some lyrics from the song Splendid Isolation from the late Warren Zevon above. Here is the song.

 

 

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Well, the work for my upcoming show, Moments and Color, is out of the studio and at the West End Gallery. The show will be completely hung sometime today well in advance of next Friday’s July 12 opening.

It always feels a little weird the first morning back in the studio after delivering a large group of work for a solo show. While it’s a relief to have the work gone and the task met, it is a bittersweet sensation. The paintings that have surrounded me, that have called out at me, that have occupied my mind for months are suddenly gone. It feels hollow here even though the place is far from empty and the work that is gone seems to have left behind an echoing presence.

Some pieces definitely leave behind reverberating waves. Like the one above, a 16″ by 20″ painting from the Multitudes series that I call Soul Boat. It’s a piece that I miss now when I scan around the studio. There are faces in it that I had gotten used to locating and focusing on, like the one here on the right that reminds me of Henry Miller. Maybe he’s sailing out on the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn.

Don’t know but I kind of miss having him staring out at me.

If you want to have this Henry Miller stare at you for a bit, Soul Boat is now at the West End Gallery for next week’s opening on Friday, July 12. Please stop in and get a sneak peek at the show.

Anyway, here’s an oldie from Grand Funk Railroad that might kind of line up with this piece– if you squint your eyes and try real hard. It’s I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home.

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I am moving right along with my prep work for my new solo show at the West End Gallery, Moments and Color, that opens in a little less than two weeks from now. I deliver the show early this week, before the July 4th holiday on Thursday, so this weekend has been a busy one as the work goes into their frames and mat and glass are cut.

I think I’ve probably described this final prep time preceding a show before. Even though I can easily imagine how a painting will appear, actually seeing the work fully presented in their frames brings a fuller dimension to each piece. It also gives me a better idea of how the show will coalesce and hang together on the gallery wall.

Hopefully, it’s a very satisfying feeling. And with this group of work, it definitely is, leaving me eager to see it on the wall.

Anyway, got lots to do still and I am a little frantic. Thought this Sunday morning’s musical selection should reflect that. It’s a neat version of the Ramones punk classic I Wanna Be Sedated from Tim Timebomb, whose music I featured here just a week or so back, along with Lindi Ortega. It’s kind of an unexpected take on the song and one that I find highly entertaining. There are two versions below, the first being the full version and the second containing just the instrumental track, which I liked enough to include here.

The image at the top is a new small piece, The Soloist, that I just finished for this show. Moments and Color opens Friday, July 12, with an opening reception from 5-7:30 PM, at the West End Gallery in Corning.


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I recently saw an article about classic album covers and it made me think of some of my favorites. Albums like Quadrophenia from The Who, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Led Zeppelin’s first album with the burning Hindenburg all jump immediately to mind. While I was thinking about this my eyes settled on another album resting on a table in the studio, my own small contribution to album cover art.

It’s from a 2012 album, Lowe Country. It was a tribute album by various artists, mainly alt-country and Americana, covering the songs of Nick Lowe. It features a piece of mine from about 1998. As you can see, it is before the Red Tree emerged.

At the time, I didn’t realize my artwork was being used on the album and was alerted to it by the son of a gallery owner friend who lives on the west coast. He had seen it in a record store and immediately identified the album cover as my work. Turns out the painting used on the cover was purchased years ago by the owner of the record company, Fiesta Red. He properly credited me on the cover and sent me a few CDs and a vinyl version with what I believe to be a pretty nice cover.

Looking at it pleases me. I am also pleased in knowing that it is, more that likely, in Nick Lowe’s record collection as well. Big fan here.

Here’s a track from the album from Lori McKenna who is a singer/songwriter and a two time Grammy winner, most notably for her song Girl Crush. I don’t know much about contemporary country but even I have heard of that song. This is Nick Lowe’s What’s Shakin’ on the Hill.

Have a great day!

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There is just way too much to do this morning as I am finishing up work on my upcoming July show at the West End Gallery. But even though my time is spent on this work, the events taking place in this country occupy my mind a lot of this time. I am not going to go into it at this point but I wanted to share a video that speaks to it in a way.

It is from one of my favorites, the ultra talented Rhiannon Giddens, and was produced in the aftermath of the Charleston, SC church shooting in which 9 church members were murdered. It’s probably hard to remember, there have been so many mass shootings in the years since that we barely notice anymore when only 3 or 4 or 5 people are killed.

The song is Cry No More and the words at the top appear at the end of the video. They serve as a powerful reminder that we get what we put up with and that to be silent is to accept this status quo. All the tears in the world accomplish nothing unless they are followed with a powerful and unified voice.

So, cry no more. Know your history. Know your mind. Speak up. Be loud.

 

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