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The Partisan

In the last week or so, I have featured a few songs of resistance from the past century. The song we’re looking at today, The Partisan, is a song most often associated with the late Leonard Cohen and his 1969 recording of the song. It has come to be seen as one of his songs but it has an interesting history.

The Leonard Cohen version is actually an early 1960’s adaptation and translation into English of an earlier French song from songwriter Hy Zaret, who is best known for writing the huge hit Unchained Melody for the Righteous Brothers.

The songs origins however go back to World War II France and the Resistance fighters battling the invading Nazis there, the Free French Forces. The song was originally composed by Anna Marly, who is an interesting case.

Anna Marly, born in 1917, was the daughter of a Russian noble family whose father was executed by the revolutionaries in the aftermath of the October Revolution of 1918. Her family fled first to Finland then settled in France, part of the White Russian exile community there. As a youth she was aballet dancer in Monte Carlo and was also taught music by fellow Russian exile, composer Sergei Prokofiev, best known for his Peter and the Wolf. By the time she was 17, she had changed her Russian name to Marly and was performing her own songs in the Paris cabarets.

She fled to England in 1940 when France fell to the invading German forces. There she began to communicate with members of the rebel FFF, the Free French Forces. A leader of the group heard her singing her song, Chant des Partisans, in Russian in a London club while there in 1943. He asked two French writers accompanying him to translate the song into French with the intention that it might become a replacement for  La Marseillaisethe French anthem banned by the occupying Germans. The translated song soon became the new anthem for French resistance and the two writers, Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon, were credited for many years as the writers of the song. It wasn’t until quite a few years later that Anna Marly was credited as the writer of the song.

Marly ended up moving to the USA after the war, living for some time in Richfield Springs, NY, not far from Cooperstown, near a Russian Orthodox Monastery there, the only such monastery in North America. She died in 2006 in Alaska at age 88.

But her song lives on in history and in some form today.

Here are three versions below. The first is an Anna Marly version in French from 1944. The second is an early 1960’s version of the Hy Zaret translation and the final is a performance from Leonard Cohen of his adaptation of Zaret’s version. All have their own feel and power.


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Virtual Talk Today!

There’s still time to register! 

You can still register via Zoom for the Virtual Gallery Talk taking place today at the West End Gallery.

It begins at 1 PM. 

Hope to see you there!!


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“True Opulence” Now at the the West End Gallery

A summer Sunday morning, the heat not yet fully realized. Quiet, not much stirring. A doe with her two fawns saunters through the shade of the yard and munches the tall unmowed grass, chewing as she lifts her head to survey the scene.

The world still feels intact in these moments. In rhythm. Sane.

But the heat builds. Noise intensifies. Animals fade into the cooler, quieter shadows of the forest.

Rhythm is lost and an air of tension fills the void.

I don’t know where I am going with this. Just an observation, I suppose.

Summer days in the time of pandemic.

These are the days when I need something to remind me of the possibility of this world. With that in mind, I am just going to go ahead and introduce this week’s Sunday morning music. It’s another new piece from composer Max Richter from his upcoming album, Voices. This piece is called All Human Beings and begins with Eleanor Roosevelt reading from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The music is set to a lovely film from Yulia Mahr.

Maybe it can keep the world, at least as I am seeing it, in rhythm for a bit today. Have a good, quiet Sunday.


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“The Solace of Light”- Now at the Principle Gallery


… I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

-T.S. Eliot, East Coker, The Four Quartets


Whenever I read this passage from T.S. Eliot, I am inevitably moved by his words. The interesting thing is that while my response is always strong, my my personal interpretation of it, how I relate it to my own experience and knowledge, sometimes varies wildly.

And I suppose that is much like looking at a work of art. The day, the moment, the circumstance and context in which we see it– these things and more often dictate our response and our relationship to art.

I find this true for the painting shown above, The Solace of Light, which hangs at the Principle Gallery now as part of my current show there. It seems as though each time I look deeply at this piece, my relationship with it changes or, at least, moves to a different place within me.

Sometimes it feels superficial as though I am responding solely to the colors. Other times, it is deeper and I feel drawn into the forms of the scene, barely recognizing the colors. I am in and of that place in those instances.

Closer to where I want to be. Or think I want to be.

Okay, off to work. Maybe I will get there today.


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Build a House

“The Quarantine House” – Now at the Principle Gallery



Thought I’d just play a song from one of my most favorite artists, the super talented Rhiannon Giddens.  It marks Juneteenth, which was yesterday, and was written in the last week or so. She collaborates on it with the great Yo-Yo Man– from a distance, of course. The song premiered on YouTube yesterday. Enjoy and have a good day.

This is what Rhiannon had to say about the song: “This song came knocking about a week ago and I had to open the door and let it in. What can I say about what’s been happening, what has happened, and what is continuing to happen, in this country, in the world? There’s too many words and none, all at once. So I let the music speak, as usual. What a thing to mark this 155th anniversary of Juneteenth with that beautiful soul Yo-Yo Ma. Honored to have it out in the world.”



Build a House

You brought me here to build your house, build your house, build your house
You brought me here to build your house and grow your garden fine

I laid the brick and built your house, built your house, built your house
I laid the brick and built your house, raised the plants so high

And when you had the house and land, the house and land, the house and land
And when you had the house and land, then you told me “go.”

I found a place to build my house, build my house, build my house
I found a place to build my house since I couldn’t go back home

You said I couldn’t build a house, build a house, build a house
You said I couldn’t build a house, so you burned it down

So then I traveled far and wide, far and wide, far and wide
And then I traveled far and wide until I found a home

I learned your words and wrote a song, wrote a song, wrote a song
I learned your words and wrote a song to put my story down

But then you came and took my song, took my song, took my song
But then you came and took my song, playing it for your own

I took my bucket, lowered it down, lowered it down, lowered it down
I took my bucket, lowered it down, the well will never run dry.

You brought me here to build a house, build a house, build a house
You brought me here to build a house. I will not be moved.

No, I will not be moved. No, I will not be, I will not be, I will not be moved.

Rhiannon Giddens


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Amsterdam, Netherlands – BLM Protest June 2020


Don’t you know
They’re talkin’ ’bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
And finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution
Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution, oh no
Talkin’ bout a revolution, oh no
Talkin’ bout a revolution, oh no

Tracy Chapman, Talkin’ Bout a Revolution


Though concerned about the potential health ramifications from the lack of social distancing, it was heartening to see the crowds that filled the streets of this country over the last two weeks, culminating in a massive turnout yesterday. Even more striking were the crowds who gathered in the streets and squares of cities around the world, both in support of the American protests and against the growth of white supremacy and police brutality that is taking place in their own countries. Scenes similar to the one at the top from Amsterdam took place in virtually every major city around the globe, from London to Seoul to Sydney to Mumbai, all calling for real and lasting change.

I don’t want to pontificate or lecture this morning but I do have to cite the 2006 FBI report about how the culture and organizations of white supremacy had heavily infiltrated law enforcement nationally. It stated that if this was not addressed, it would eventually present a danger to our national security. Well, it wasn’t taken care of then and now does seem to present a real danger. There are a ridiculously high number of examples of the brutality that is being protested just from the protests alone, when they must know that the eyes of the world are on them.

Maybe an unrelenting presence on the streets will finally bring about the change that is so needed.

Maybe that time is now, finally. Not somewhere down the road.

I do want to pose a question to the few of you who might read this who find themselves getting angry at the protests and the protesters. I am not talking about the looters. Looting and protesting are two separate entities, just like the difference between proper policing and police brutality– one is legal and one is criminal. I am just talking about their demands for change.

What about this makes you angry? Ask yourself why is this so.

Okay, for this week’s Sunday morning music I am going back to 1988  to hear Tracy Chapman sing her Talkin’ Bout a Revolution. I saw her perform this at an Amnesty International show at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia back in 1988. On a night that saw memorable performances from big names like Peter Gabriel, Sting (with Branford Marsalis) and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, it was Tracy Chapman’s simple performance with her guitar and potent voice and message in front of 75,000 people that made the biggest impression on me.

Give a listen. Have a good day and let’s keep moving towards something better.

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Exile on Main Street- At the Principle Gallery as Part of “Social Distancing”

I’m on the road today, delivering the work for my upcoming show, Social Distancing, to the Principle Gallery down in Alexandria. As I’ve done for the last 21 years, I drop off the show pieces on the weekend before the opening date, which for this year’s show is next Friday, June 5. Under normal circumstances we would head back down later in the week for the opening reception.

Of course, there is very little that remains normal this year.

Even making the trip to deliver the work feels so different this year. Definitely not normal. I can almost count on one hand the number of times that I have been away from my home and studio over the past three months so the idea of suddenly traveling three hundred miles takes on a much more ominous feel than usual, especially when you factor in the social upheaval and unrest that is gripping this country.

It’s going to be odd to drop off the work and not get the opportunity to see it hanging in the gallery space, to get the feel of the show assembled in its entirety.

But that’s the way things are for the time being.

So, this morning I am traveling through the same landscape that I have for the past twenty-some years. But this year, the world is slightly askew and  my mind is a bit more troubled than in more normal times.

Even so, I wanted to play a bit of music to at least bring some form of normality to the day. The song I chose is from the immortal Sam Cooke who was shot and killed back in 1964 at a motel in LA. I don’t want to go into the official story put forward by authorities or the conspiracy theories that have abounded in the years since but the circumstances of Cooke’s death were unusual, to say the least. That aside, Sam Cooke was an enormous talent, a gifted songwriter with a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind voice.

This song is [Somebody} Ease My Troublin’ Mind. Something we could all use these days. Have a good day.


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Marc Chagall- Paris Through My Window 1913


If a symbol should be discovered in a painting of mine, it was not my intention. It is a result I did not seek. It is something that may be found afterwards, and which can be interpreted according to taste.

–Marc Chagall


I love that a painter like Marc Chagall whose work is seemingly teeming with symbols never painted them with the intention of becoming such. It seems hard to believe but I believe him and understand what he’s saying. So often something in a painting gets picked up on by a viewer who infuses personal meaning onto it.

It becomes something more.

And even after it has attained symbolic status, it is stilled created in later iterations without that in mind. At the moment of creation, it’s just about giving the vision a sense of completeness. It is simply what it is at that moment and becomes something else afterward.

Another favorite of mine, Richard Diebenkorn, said pretty much the same thing: I trust the symbol that is arrived at in the making of the painting. Meaningful symbols aren’t invented as such, they are made or discovered as symbol later. 

Basically, the artist paints first then translates after the fact.

Hey, symbols happen.

That works for me and I think this is the case for most artists. I don’t really know for sure. I am sure there artists who wouldn’t agree with this, especially those who deal in allegorical work which is symbolic by design, and that’s fine. Everyone has their own mode of operation that hopefully works for them.

That being said, this is just an excuse to look at some Chagall paintings and the symbols in them.

Marc Chagall- La Vie 1964

Marc Chagall- The Night the Sun Rose

Marc Chagall Over Vitebsk 1915-20


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Auction Update

A Clearing Comes- Auction for Australian Wildlife

Here’s the 4 PM Update on the Auction for the Painting Above to Benefit the Wildlife of Australia Affected by the Recent Fires:

The Current High Bid is $ 1650.00

There is still room to get in on this piece as I have set a Buy Now price of $ 1750.00. A bid of 1750 ends the auction.

Auction Closes Saturday at 12 Noon EST


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Hey Skinny Santa

Going to be short today because my internet is down for a couple of days and I am not too adept at posting from my phone. I can’t be sure how this will show up on your screens.

But since it’s snowing pretty good at the moment and we’re about a week out from Christmas, here’s a song from JD McPherson, Hey Skinny Santa. Hope it shows up!

Planning to be back to normal here by Thursday but who knows. Have a good day!

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