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Archive for the ‘Recent Paintings’ Category

I am going to be brief on this Sunday morning. Probably like many of you, time is short and there is much to do this morning. But I wanted to still put out a piece of music and some sort of image as is the norm here on this blog. Long held habits are hard to break.

The image above is a painting, Radiance and Shadow, that is hanging in my current show at the West End Gallery. I thought I’d pair it with a tune from the Danish String Quartet, a group that deftly mixes folk and classical traditions. Their recent album, Last Leaf, is their take on a blend of traditional Nordic folk tunes and dances. This song, Shine You No More, is a new tune by one of the group’s members but is derived from the work of a 16th century English composer. It is definitely a dance tune.

Give a listen and have a good day.

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It’s gray and rainy this morning. It’s the same forecast for the next several days here and I am kind of happy about that. While it may put a damper on tourists and sun-seekers, the rain refreshes the pond and cools the forest floor. The vegetation perks up with the greens getting a bit brighter and vibrant. After reading about the many temperature records being broken around the globe in recent weeks (over 90° above the Arctic circle and the highest temp ever recorded on the African continent!) I am all for anything that cools it down for a while.

I though for this Sunday morning’s musical selection I would choose a piece called Oslo from a contemporary Norwegian jazz musician, Mathias Eick, that sounds kind of cool. For me, when I hear the name Oslo I imagine snow and a chill in the air. I may be mistaken in that assumption as I find after checking that it’s near 80° there at the moment.

But I will still cling to my misguided assumption for the moment if only to feel an illusion of coolness. I threw in a new painting at the top, Cool Rising, that is part of my current show at the West End Gallery, to complete the illusion.

Have a cool Sunday…

 

 

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 “People like you and I, though mortal of course like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live. What I mean is we never cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into which we were born.”

Albert Einstein, Letter to Otto Juliusburger, September 29, 1942 

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This is a new painting, at 30″ by 10″ on canvas, that is part of my current West End Gallery show, The Rising. I have titled this painting Eye to Eye and was considering at one point adding to Eye to Eye to Eye to Eye, et cetera.

In my mind, the idea of looking out at the stars in the night sky feels sometimes like looking into a multitude of eyes looking back at us, the flash of the whites of their eyes creating the starlight that we see. It is a benign feeling, not tinged with animosity or congeniality.

They are just there, dispassionately looking back at us. Perhaps they are seeing the flash of the light from our sun that reflects on our moon as being our eyes looking out at them. Who knows?

The sense I get from this painting is one of having this connection with the universe even in those times when we might feel absolutely alone in this world. Maybe the connection is in understanding that the Great Mystery, as Einstein calls it, may very well be the same throughout the cosmos. Whether here on Earth or a billion light years away, the night presents us with tangible evidence of this Great Mystery and our desire to know our place in it creates the curiosity that Einstein mentions.

And maybe that curiosity, that feeling that there is always more to learn from this Mystery, is the key in maintaining a youthful mind.

Who knows?

I used the words from Einstein above as they originally appeared in a letter to a colleague. The gist of his words were later paraphrased by others as this popularly quoted piece of advice:

Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.

I like it better in its original form, not as advice but as simply an observation between friends.

 

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I just wanted to issue a heartfelt Thank You to those of you who were able to make it out to the West End Gallery for the opening of The Rising exhibit on Friday evening. It was a sticky hot evening so I am deeply appreciative of anyone who chose to spend some time with us. It was a good time and it was great to see a lot of old friends and many new ones.

The response to the work has been wonderful thus far which is gratifying. Hope you can make it out in the near future to see the show or maybe join us on for a Gallery Talk on Saturday, August 4, starting at 1 PM. The Gallery Talk is generally a lot of fun and there will be some pertinent details coming in the next few weeks.

In the spirit of gratitude, this Sunday’s musical selection is a throwback in time to the funk classic Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) from Sly and the Family Stone. Give a listen and again, thank you to everyone from the show–falettinme be mice elf agin.

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Tonight is the opening reception for The Rising, this year’s edition of my annual solo show at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY. The reception begins at 5 PM and runs until 7:30 PM.

My history at the West End Gallery is well documented here. I would not be sitting here this morning, writing this blog about my work and this show, if not for a meeting back in January of 1995 where Tom and Linda Gardner saw something of value in the milk crate that served as my portfolio, with pieces of cardboard and paper jutting out from it. From that first glimpse, they gave me my first opportunity and followed it up with the encouragement that allowed me to grow as an artist.

You have to understand that this came at a time not too far removed from what I will describe without hesitation as being the lowest point in my life. Their acceptance and embrace of my work was a lifesaver thrown out to a drowning man.

So when I tell you that I try with all my heart to create work for these shows that is meaningful and at the highest level at which I am capable, those are not just words.

It describes an act of gratitude. a Thank You for a life saved and reshaped.  A Thank You for the opportunity to grow and evolve as an artist, to live a life I never could have imagined all those many years ago.

I hope that the work in The Rising displays that sense of gratitude as well as the growth that came with it.

Hope you can make it out to the gallery tonight. I’ll be there.

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A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of seeing a series of three one-man shows at the Shaw Festival in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. They were written and performed by writer/actor/comedian Stephen Fry who you may better recognize from his longtime partnership with Hugh Laurie (House) in the comedy team Fry and Laurie.

The performances were based on Fry’s recent book Mythos which contains his droll retelling of the classical Greek myths. The shows were divided into different segments: God, Heroes, and Men. God dealt with the stories of Zeus and the other surrounding gods. Heroes dealt with the epic tales of Odysseus, Heracles and Theseus. The final show, Men, told the stories of men and their interactions with the gods. All were highly entertaining.

I was pleasantly surprised that during Men, Fry chose to tell the tale of Baucis and Philemon, a story that I have retold here a number of times and one which I also have used as the basis of a series of paintings over the last several years, including not too long ago with a favorite of mine, Nuptiae. It is the story of an old couple in a poor town who share their hospitality with Zeus and Hermes who have been treated poorly by all the other townspeople.

Fry’s retelling had a bit of a different ending than the version I knew, one that I believe is based more on that from Ovid and his Metamorphoses. In the version I know, the ending is a bit happier with the couple living out their lives together as priests in the temple of Zeus and together in death as two separate trees– a linden and an oak– growing from a single trunk.

Fry’s is a bit harsher, related in many ways to the biblical story of Lot and his wife. In Fry’s retelling, Zeus tells Baucis and Philemon that they shall be spared from the terrible wrath he is setting loose upon the other townsfolk. He instructs them to walk up the hill and not turn back. But hearing the great storm and the horrible sounds coming from the village, they agree to turn back to look together, whereupon they are transformed into linden and oak trees, much as Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.

I still prefer the version I first knew but it was great to hear a variation on this story. That is the beauty of storytelling and art– it takes what we believe we know and reflects it back at us in a different and sometimes revelatory manner.

The painting at the top is a new painting from my West End Gallery show that opens tomorrow, Friday, July 13. Titled The Belonging, it is a 36″ by 24″ painting on canvas that is my most recent interpretation of the Baucis and Philemon myth– the version I knew before the Mythos shows.

These pieces may be my favorite to paint. The intent to paint them, that beginning point in their creation, has a certain feeling that pleases me and sets the tone for the whole piece. The paintings that spring from this starting point seldom disappoint me or fall short of what I hope to see. This piece very much lived up to the story for me and is one that never failed to stop and make me look when it was with me in the studio. The combination of the story and the colors, shapes and textures of the painting come together, for me at least.

Hope you can come out and see for yourself at the West End.

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When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.

― Ralph EllisonInvisible Man

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I think of many of the paintings that I do with the Red Tree situated very much front and center as being a portrait of sorts. I see a face and head and shoulders set against the background. Sometimes I see the familiar faces of others in them and sometimes they feel like self-portraits.

I definitely this painting, a 36″ by 36″ painting on canvas that is titled Find Your Light, see as a self-portrait. If someone asked for my picture I would prefer giving this image rather than an actual photo of myself. Maybe I am being vain in thinking that it resembles any part of me but I can at least hope it represents the better part of me because there is a lot that l like in this painting.

I like the field of colors that acts as a garment shrouding the chest and neck of this portrait. I like the burst of brightness that comes from the center set against the multitude of deeper colors that surround it. And I like the bands of blue-green hills that seem like a coat loosely draped on the shoulders of the portrait’s subject. And the layers of color within the clouds and the soft glow of blue that surrounds them.

All these things combined with the impact of the painting’s size give it a quality that appeals to me, one that feels like a sense of self being clearly and confidently stated. That’s a quality that I hope for myself and for my work. I guess that is why I see it in some way as a self-portrait.

Maybe you see yourself in it? That would equally please me.

This painting, Find Your Light, is now hanging at the West End Gallery as part of my solo show, The Rising, which opens Friday, July 13.

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