Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

The other day I wrote about going up into the wood to my quickly deteriorating old studio where I found a cache of older works tucked behind a  stack of old frames.The reason I had decided to head up there was that I have an upcoming show in late August at a small public gallery, the Octagon Gallery, in the historic Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. It’s a village in Chautauqua County out near the shores of Lake Erie. It’s an area known for its vineyards filled with the Concord grapes that have been made into Welch’s Grape Juice at a plant there since 1897. The library is a gorgeous Beaux Arts structure from the early 20th century and the gallery is, as its name implies, a large octagon shaped space.

I wasn’t planning on doing the show at first but decided it would be a good venue to show some of my more private work, pieces that I would never sell. It’s called Exiles and Icons and has all of the pieces from these series that I have in my possession.

I began going through these pieces last week. Even though I have taken them out and looked at them a number of times over the years, this was the first time I was putting them together and really doing a type of inventory of them. As I looked them over, I realized that a vital piece from the Exiles series was missing. It was the piece shown at the top, Exiles: Quartet, a group of four of the Exiles characters assembled and matted together to make one piece.

I was positive it was somewhere here in the studio, having distinct memories of taking the unframed four pieces out of the mat and discarding the mat, folding it and shoving it in the garbage. This set off a search in the studio that had me going through every shelf, drawer, box, crack, and crevice in the place. I was frantic. I went through this studio several times over three days, examining folders and bins time and time again thinking I might have somehow overlooked these four paintings.

Nothing.

The next move was to go look through the old studio space. Maybe I had a failure of memory, maybe I had somehow overlooked these paintings from the very beginning and had believed they were always there with me in the new studio. After tearing apart my current studio, that was the only possibility outside of me having sold the paintings and then forgotten this. But I knew that was not the case after going through my records.

So, I went through the wreckage of the old studio and found the cache of older paintings including one that was finished on the day my mom died back in 1995. I found a few other things but the Exiles paintings were nowhere to be seen. I took my found pieces and headed down the hill, thrilled just to have rediscovered these paintings.

Later that evening, I began to think that if I had missed these pieces when I was clearing it out all those years ago in 2007, maybe it was possible that I had missed the Exiles pieces as well. Maybe they were still there. The next morning, I headed back up the hill and began another search in the rubble.

I spent about an hour looking, sifting through wet debris under pink insulation hanging from the gaping hole in the roof and moving anything that might hide these pieces.

Nothing.

Ready to give up, I went to a little storage space in the back of the studio. The floor beneath it was racked severely, dropping a foot or more in a short span so that the side wall separated from the floor, leaving a gaping hole of maybe six inches going to the outside. The questions of how much weather and how many vermin had ran through this spot jumped to my mind. I began sifting through a stack of old cardboard.

I went through once. Nothing. Okay, these pieces were either lost or tucked away somewhere I might never find.

But I decided that I would do this pile again. Most of the way through and still absolutely nothing. I decided that the search was futile and done. But near the final sheet, a piece of white cardboard  that laid flat on the floor next to the hole in the wall, I noticed that there was a white sheet attached to its surface that almost blended perfectly with it, camouflaging it from my first inspection. I reached done and pulled it up away from the white sheet of corrugated cardboard.

There they were, the whole quartet looking up at me from their original matting. They had been waiting there for more than 12 years for me to find them, to release them from their musty cardboard prison. I took them out into the light and was amazed at how well preserved they were after all this time in these conditions. The acid free matting had protected them in great part and there was a minimum of mildew and foxing on them.

Exiles: Quartet is safely with me now and getting ready to be shown publicly for the first time in almost 25 years. I am dumbfounded at having found it and, of course, greatly relieved. This series means a lot to me, having been done over the time my mom was suffering through the final months of her struggle with lung cancer. This particular piece was important to the series as well as a favorite of mine. Finding it felt like gaining some part of myself long lost.

It’s funny how your mind and memory sometimes plays tricks on you. I thought all this time that these pieces were here. I had even formed a memory associated with it. That was either a false recollection or one confused with a different piece where I took the pieces from their mat and discarded it. Don’t know if I will ever know the answer to that but I am happy enough just to have this bit of my past, this bit of living memory, back with me.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Looking From Above Old Studio, Circa 2007

The studio I built over 20 years ago and worked in for over 10 years is deteriorating and slowly collapsing up in the woods.

I am not surprised by this fact. Out of necessity, it was built quickly with little money.  It was not built to last and I knew that eventually Mother Nature would more than likely reclaim that space as its own.

And she is doing just that.

I went up to see it the other day, taking the short hike up the hill that I had done thousands of times before in the years when I worked there 12 hours a day for 7 days a week. I had avoided it in recent times, mainly because I knew this collapse was imminent. A tree had fallen against it years ago and while it looked like it had only did a little damage to the overhang of the roof, a small branch had breached the roof. In the years that followed rain and snow had did their worst work and last year I found it with a gaping hole in the roof. That along with the rapid decay of a couple of the wood pilings I had employed as a foundation which caused the floor to heave and the doors and windows to rack made this building a total wreck.

It’s sad to see it in this condition, this place that had such a large effect on my life and my work. I know that I failed in many ways by not planning better in its initial construction and for not maintaining it in recent years.

But my failures are not the story I want to focus on here today. There’s actually a positive note here.

I went into this old studio a few days ago to see if I had left anything in here that should be removed. Going through a rack of old frames, some which I would take out later to see if the wood could be salvaged, I came across a piece of plywood pressed against the end of the top shelf. I don’t know why I looked behind it but I pulled it out, revealing a bundle of several large sheets of watercolor paper.

I pulled it out and found a spot where I could examine it. Flipping over the first sheet, I felt like I was slapped. It was a painting from the late 1990’s, one that I distinctly remember. I continued to the next and the next and they all were immediately recognizable pieces. Some were what I would consider good examples of my work at the time and one was a failed piece that I remember well. It was an oil on paper where the color never came together in the way I wanted.

It was all in oddly good condition, given that only several feet away there was gaping hole where all sorts of weather were free to fall. There was some foxing and a little grime but it wasn’t terrible and could be addressed. Obviously, using the acid free cotton watercolor paper and having them bundled together had provided some protection.

But it was the last piece in the bundle that made me tear up. It was a landscape and it had a title and a date at the bottom of the sheet. It was painted on November 9, 1995 and its title was The Sky Will Never Forget ( Hoping For Light). My mom from cancer died later that night, in the first few hours of November 10.

We knew at the time it was coming and it occupied my mind much of that time, often showing itself in my work. My Exiles series is based on that time and her death. How I had lost track of this piece, my most personal document of that time, is beyond me. Another failure. But finding it safely in the wreckage felt like a triumph, a calling out to me from the past.

Like I said, I found myself with tears in my eyes while standing in a wasteland of rubble.

There’s more to this story that connects it further to the Exiles series. That story will have to wait to be told in the days ahead.

Here’s that piece. It needs a little cleaning and a better photo but this captures it.

The Sky Will Never Forget (Hoping For Light) 1995

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

****************************

“You say I am repeating 
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own 
And where you are is where you are not.”

― T.S. Eliot, East Coker

**************************

This is a another painting from my upcoming solo show, Moments and Color, at the West End Gallery that opens Friday. It is called Meditatio and it is a painting I have shown here before. It was painted last year but as it sat here in the studio awaiting this show, I saw things in it that made me want  to change the painting a bit.

I lightened the center of it with a few small additions of new paint to the moon and Red Tree, giving it more light. That very much changed the attitude of the piece but it transformed even more when I changed the plain black band that had surrounded the central image to a bronzed burgundy. This new band color altered the experience of the painting, giving the whole thing a warmer glow.

I thought it was strong painting before, one with a meditative presence that definitely stood out in my mind. But these seemingly small changes transformed it greatly. It still feels meditative, as the title implies, but in a more welcoming way.

I see these words above from T.S. Eliot’s East Coker as part of a conversation between the Red Tree and the rising sun/moon, who points out that it repeats its lesson with each new rise. And though it is repetitive, it is no less meaningful and instructive.

I will let you read into it what you will but I particularly love the last line here– And where you are is where you are not.

That could very well sum up my work.

Hope you get a chance to see this piece at the West End Gallery. The opening is Friday, from 5-7:30 PM.

 

Read Full Post »

*********************************

“And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek . . . And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. ‘You too come forth,’ He will say, ‘Come forth ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!’ And we shall all come forth, without shame and shall stand before him. And He will say unto us, ‘Ye are swine, made in the Image of the Beast and with his mark; but come ye also!’ And the wise ones and those of understanding will say, ‘Oh Lord, why dost Thou receive these men?’ And He will say, ‘This is why I receive them, oh ye wise, this is why I receive them, oh ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.’ And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before him . . . and we shall weep . . . and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand everything! . . . and all will understand” 

Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and Punishment

*************************************

This new painting is an 18″ by 36″ canvas that is included in Moments and Color, my annual show of new work at the West End Gallery that opens this coming Friday. It was completed for quite some time before I finally settled on a title for it. Every title that came to mind seemed too trite or too well worn for this piece.

The Red Tree and its placement here give me the impression of someone standing before a group while delivering some sort of moral or spiritual instruction. Sermon on the Mount sort of stuff. The setting here has a placid feel and the location of the Red Roofed houses give the impression that they are rapt listeners.

It all gives this piece a feeling of great serenity.

With this in mind, I finally settled on The Homily as a title. A homily is a story that is often part of a religious sermon that demonstrates a moral or spiritual lesson in practical terms and contemporary settings. And I can see that here. Without it espousing the tenets of any religion, it has a spiritual feeling for me, one that serves as a practical illustration of peace and acceptance. It’s as though the Red Tree is calmly telling those around it to see the beauty and tranquility that surrounds them even in times of chaos.

There’s a sense of certainty to this piece that feels religious to me. It’s the kind of certainty I never had for myself or fully understood in others. But looking at this now, I can almost understand that certainty. Its actually beyond religious. I see it more as an inner belief that one has that allows them to remain calm in dire times, knowing that they have the ability to persist.

That even though the world around them changes, that they can adapt and prosper because their core values remains intact.

And maybe what this, a representation of those core values, whatever it is that brings us inner peace and serenity.

It’s early and my eyes and mind are still trying to focus so these few paragraphs may not be a homily. But they are an attempt, like this painting, to point out our need for peace, for those moments of tranquility that allow us to continue onward in a world that often seems out of our control.

Maybe its the understanding that Dostoyevsky speaks of at the top.

Hope you find it for yourself.

********************

This painting, The Homily, is part of Moments and Color, my exhibit of new work now hanging at the West End Gallery in Corning. There is an opening reception this Friday, July 12, running from 5-7:30 PM. Hope to see you there.

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

********************

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

*********************

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.

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: