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Archive for the ‘Recent Paintings’ Category

Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.

–Thomas Huxley

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This painting, Golden Beacon, was an addition to my current show at the West End Gallery that got its first showing at the Gallery Talk on Saturday. I am pleased to say that this piece found an adoring home in the aftermath of the talk.

I spoke with its new caretaker for a while after the talk, describing what I saw in this painting and how it differed in feeling from a similar painting hanging in the show that I wrote about in an earlier post. That painting, The Center Holds, was about the individual holding strong to its beliefs and core values as the chaos of the world swirled threateningly above and below.

I see this piece in a slightly different light. It is still about strength, still concerned with perseverance and staying true to inner truths. But it is also about how that type of behavior acts as an example for others to follow. Standing up to the fear, anger and hatred that is so often sowed by agents of darkness serves as beacon shedding broad beams of light that guide others past those perils.

I see a calmness in this painting that is based on a belief in logic, knowledge and truth. And in the glow of that light, the darkness separates and flees.

I think this piece is about both finding a source of light and calmness to guide you through times of darkness and, in turn, becoming a beacon to others. My hope is that the new owner of this painting sees this as such an inspiration. I know that it will always live that way in me.

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I am busy getting ready for this Saturday’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery.  You wouldn’t think it would take much preparation, would you? I show up and talk for a while. End of prep. And from a few of the many talks I’ve given over the years, that would appear to be the extent of my preparation.

But I really do try to have an idea of some ideas I want to get across in these talks. Sometimes, it focuses on an anecdote or two or a thought that has been floating around with me for some time. So, I try to collect these ideas and commit them to memory so that I can go to them when the time arises.

But the main preparation comes in continually telling myself to allow myself to be absolutely transparent and honest when I am up there in front of the group. That can mean admitting to my shortcomings and flaws to people that I’ve sometimes never seen before. I know that sounds awful when taken at face value, something no one really wants to face. Who wants to confess anything to strangers?

But, as an artist, there is great value in those moments. There is catharsis in the act of  confession, revelation in the exposing of one’s vulnerabilities. It’s like wiping off layers of dust from a mirror — what may have been obscured is now evident. And for me, that is a vital part of my creative process. Without it, I may as well be a chimp with fingerpaints.

So, my prep consists of readying my willingness to reveal vulnerability. Believe me when I say that it takes some doing.

Another part is choosing a painting to give away at the end of the talk. I spend a lot of time, going back and forth on what to give away. As I have said in the past, I want it to be a meaningful piece, something that actually hurts me a little bit to give away. I am really struggling to choose a piece for this talk. I have a couple in mind but keep changing my mind because part of me doesn’t want to give them away. And that little pang of regret makes me think I am close to choosing.

I will let you know in the next day or so.

So, to sum up: Gallery Talk this Saturday, August 5, at the West End Gallery in Corning. There will be refreshments, a drawing for one of my paintings, maybe a few other assorted giveaways and, if my preparations work out as planned, a darn good conversation.  

There is also a small group of new paintings that are coming with me including the little piece shown above. It’s petite in size only. I call it Drift Away. Here’s the song from Dobie Gray from many years back. If you are of a certain age, you have no doubt heard this song a thousand times and have the chorus permanently etched in your brain tissue. But it’s still a good listen.

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“Mr. Fred shook hands with her, said he was glad to see her, drew out a wet Coke from the machine, wiped it on his apron, and gave it to her.

This is one good thing about life that never changes, she thought. As long as he lived, as long as she returned, Mr. Fred would be here with his…simple welcome. What was that? Alice? Brer Rabbit? It was Mole. Mole, when he returned from some long journey, desperately tired, had found the familiar waiting for him with its simple welcome.”

Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

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This is a new piece, a little painting just a bit over 2″ by 3″ that I call Toward Home. It’s going with me this coming Saturday for my Gallery Talk at 1 PM at the West End Gallery in Corning. I generally try to bring a few very new pieces to my talks to complement the works on hand.

I thought the words of Harper Lee above fit this piece. It has a sense of going home about it, about returning to the familiar. That’s something I understand.

I always look for the familiar and am attracted to those places and people that give me that feeling of having encountered them before. A natural sense of comfort that comes with knowing the landscape, instinctively sensing the rhythm of the place or person.

The Red Tree in this little piece reminds of those things that we set for ourselves as landmarks, those spots on our journey home that let us know we are in a place we call home. I know when I am returning from a road trip there are spots that, once I have passed them, I feel that I am home. Knowing that I am of that area, my mind and body eases as I finish the journey home.

It may be a small painting but it is full, at least for me.

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GALLERY TALK

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2017 beginning at 1 PM

WEST END GALLERY, CORNING, NY

There will be a drawing for an original painting and other surprises, so try to make it to the West End Gallery this Saturday!

 

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I first read the poem The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats over forty years back and it left a mark. Cut and scarred me. Its first verse still resonates in my mind, especially that last line– the best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity. It just reeks of the current political bog in which we are mired.

After putting the final touches on the piece above, a 12″ by 36″ canvas, I began examining the painting, trying to discern what it held for me. Immediately, the image from Yeats’ poem came to mind of a world in disarray,  spinning out of control in dark chaotic clouds and rising tide that overtakes and drowns all hopes.

But instead of Yeats’ forewarning that the center ( or centre, as is in his Irish version) cannot hold, I saw the Red Tree standing strong and resolute against the troubles swirling around it.  It holds tight to its core, not allowing the madness surrounding it to overtake it or alter those values of goodness that it holds dearly as definitions of its own humanity. It will die before it will succumb to becoming part of the blood-dimmed tide, as Yeats put it.

I am calling this painting The Center Holds.

I think this is a strong piece although I am not sure the photo above captures everything in it, its depth and contours. It’s coming with me to the West End Gallery for my Gallery Talk there next Saturday, August 5. Stop by and check it out for yourself.

Meanwhile, here’s Yeats’ The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.                                                                                                                                                                               .
Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

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Tonight marks the opening reception for Self Determination, an exhibit of my new work at the West End Gallery in Corning. It runs from 5 until 7:30 and there will be refreshments, food, music from guitarist William Groome and work– both mine and the great work of the other artists there whose work is on display upstairs– that I hope you will find to your liking.

I saw the show in the gallery yesterday and think it has an impressive look in place. Jesse and Lin always do a fantastic job arranging and hanging the show so that it shows to its best advantage and this show is a great example of their skill.

The West End was the first gallery ( or for that matter, the first people outside my family) to see anything in my work and they set me on this life in art that I have so enjoyed back in early 1995. They have graciously hosted my solo shows — this is my 16th there– over the years and I try to do my very best for them out of a sense of gratitude for the many things they have done for me.

I hope this show lives up to that obligation I feel. I think it does but my opinion is mine alone. You will have to be the judge.

I will be on hand tonight and will be available for all your questions or comments. If you can make it tonight, please don’t be shy. If you want to talk and I am engaged with someone else, just catch my eye and I will get to you as soon as possible. Or listen in and join the conversation. That’s something I always forget to point out because I have had so many people tell me they were at an opening and didn’t speak with me because I was busy with other people. If you make the effort to get to the gallery I will make time for you.

Also, just a reminder that if you can’t make the show, there will be a Gallery Talk at the West End on Saturday, August 5.  Should be fun so I hope you can make it then.

So, if your date book isn’t full, please stop in tonight at the West End Gallery. We look forward to seeing you.

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Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future. 
― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

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The painting above is a 30″ by 30″ canvas titled River Angel and is part of my show, Self Determination, that opens tomorrow night at the West End Gallery.

This painting is a continuation on a theme that I have been working in recently, based on the negative space that makes up the river and sky forming a silhouette that reminds me of that of the shape of a stylized flying angel. I did a rough crop of the piece, shown here on the right, that I hope displays what I am talking about. It may not be so evident to you but my eye reads that shape immediately in that way.

Now, as I have stated in past, I don’t know much about angels and can’t attest to their existence or even my own belief in them. I would like to believe that they look over us and that they guide us in some way. There have been days when I could swear they exist, that I have come in touch with them at some moment when I really needed them, but the skeptical part of me tells me it was only coincidence.

But what I do believe is that if there are angels, they would be drawn to the eternal flow of the river, the convergence of the river with the sea and the land and the sky. This great trinity of elements– sea, land and sky– has an inherent grace that just reeks of angels. Well, maybe reeks isn’t the right word but I’m sticking with it for now.

But it is that power and grace that I see in this painting, in the way the three elements come together to create a harmony that calls out to me. Maybe the moon here acts as a halo. Or maybe the Red Tree is the symbolic representation of that River Angel.

Or perhaps the flow of the river into the sea represents the transition from human to the elemental and onto the spirit.

I can’t really say.

But I do sense a place and moment of grace and harmony here, one that, if angels do exist, would be right at home to them.

 

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Sweet Seclusion

Well, the work is all in place for my show, Self Determination, at the West End Gallery. I know that I put in the needed work for this show and feel that it comes through in the paintings, individually and as a group. It’s a selection of work of which I am proud. Hope you’ll agree.

The opening reception is set for this Friday beginning at 5 PM so if you’re in the Corning area, please stop in for a look. Maybe a glass of wine, a bite to eat, a little conversation and some great guitar music provided by my friend, William Groome, as well.

Hope to see you there.

Here’s a video preview I threw together just this morning. Take a look.

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