Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Bloom


 

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

T.H. White, The Once and Future King



I came across the video below first thing this morning, just before 6 AM. It’s titled Bloom and is written and directed by Emily Johnstone and Brian Kistler and animated by the students from San Jose State Animation Illustration. It’s a simple but lovely vignette that illustrates the effect that one person making one small effort to reach out to another can have on the life of the recipient of that effort.

The current time of the year coupled with the isolation of the pandemic and the uncertainty throughout this nation fostered by the unsteady handling from the current people in power make it a ripe time for those suffer from the darkness of depression. I thought about how terrible a time it is for those folks who haven’t developed methods and mechanisms for dealing with it. This, in turn, made me think about my own struggles through the years and how fortunate I have been to have survived long enough to develop my own personal system for dealing with it.

I don’t even know if I have openly mentioned them here. Such is the stigma of depression. We openly discuss the most intimate details of our lives but depression remains a difficult subject to broach because we still see it as a sign of weakness or a character flaw rather than an affliction. 

If you’re a regular reader you probably have deduced by now that I have had bouts of depression without me ever coming out and stating it plainly. I really wasn’t planning on talking about it this morning and don’t really want to go too far without a little more consideration on my part. But I will say that the simple message in this short animation is essential to dealing with depression. The thought that one person is concerned about your well being is often enough to get through a dark period. And the care and dedication required to foster a living thing such as a plant or a pet often gives us the validation that one is needed.

I know for myself, this blog is one of my primary mechanisms for dealing with my own darkness. It provides structure and a sense of dedicated obligation. Having that task in front of me every morning helps greatly and makes me seek things to discuss which goes to the blurb at the top from The Once and Future King, a favorite book from my youth from T.H. White, which speaks to the effect of learning something new on one’s sadness. It’s a beautiful paragraph.

Learning alters the path that the mind is traveling and for the depressed person sometimes that is enough to elevate their state, even if its only a small bit. And sometimes that small lift takes them to a point where they can see new horizons that remained hidden to them before.

The other obvious benefit of this blog for me is the human contact and feedback it provides. Just knowing there are people out there, even if only a small handful, that might read this and respond once in a great while is enough to fulfill the void.

Enough to reach across the darkness.

I really don’t want to go any further into the subject this morning. As I said, I had no intention in doing so this morning. But seeing this short film and knowing how many folks are struggling right now, feeling the hopelessness and isolation that comes with depression, I thought it was important to at least speak briefly to it.

I am often hesitant in speaking too much about it because there are no one-size-fits-all fixes here. One of the aspects of depression that make it so insidious is that each person’s experience is personally formed that it is sometimes difficult to find the mechanisms and methods that will get that person through their dark patches.

I can only speak to m own experience. For me, it is in having set routines, such as this blog or caring for my beloved studio cat, Hobie. In having methods of making contact that allow me to feel that my voice and concerns are being heard. In setting goals that force me to work and not fall into the idleness that often brings the darkness.

I could go on and maybe I will at some point. But for today, try to look outside yourself and recognize the indications of depression in others. Something as small as a quick note or text or call might be the difference that changes another person’s whole outlook for the day.

And that one day might make a crucial difference in their life.

So, have a good day. Learn something new. But mainly, reach out and try to bring a little bloom into someone else’s day. 

(The video is below. There’s a little gap so make sure to scroll just a little lower if you don’t see it immediately. I have to learn how to better embed videos. Ah, learning!)



https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

Read Full Post »

Scene from “A Matter of Life and Death”



Taking a small break this morning without mentioning the Supreme Court decision from yesterday, which speaks for itself. But I did want to mention that TCM is playing a favorite movie of mine, A Matter of Life and Death, tonight at 8 PM

Released in 1946 as Stairway to Heaven in the UK, it was created by the collaboration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger along with legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff. I am a huge fan of this team which made extremely interesting and thought provoking films– The Red Shoes, Parallel 49, Black Narcissus and so many others– with storylines that were well outside the norms of traditional cinema storytelling of the time, featuring spectacular visuals often filled with gorgeous saturated color and groundbreaking effects. This film very much fills all those boxes. 

It is a fantasy about a WWII British flyer who inexplicably survives the plane crash that was supposed to end his life which basically causes a rift in heaven. He falls from the sky and is found on an English beach by a US Army nurse. They form an instant bond which is the basis for the rest of this film as the flyer attempts to fend off the efforts of the heavenly agent sent to retrieve the wayward soul. It is said to be a metaphor for the revival of the British nation as well as the PTSD that was affecting so many returning troops in the post-war era.

It’s a beautiful film with scenes that alternate between great examples of Technicolor, black and white and super saturated color, each designating a different phase of the flyer’s experience. Film is, as with all arts, a subjective experience and I imagine that many folks will not find this to their liking. But for me, it’s a masterpiece. If you’re interested in great filmmaking, take a look tonight.

Here’s a link to an interesting article on this film from the Criterion Collection as well as the trailer, below, which was made for it’s recent restoration and theatrical re-release.



Read Full Post »

Rockwell Kent- Clover Fields



President-elect Joe Biden is on a path that will show him winning close to 51% of the votes with what will most likely be a margin of over 6 million votes. It is, objectively speaking, the largest electoral rebuke of a sitting president since FDR unseated Hoover in 1932.

It seems that the people have clearly spoken. Even so, with a sitting administration that seems more hellbent on undermining our democracy than even pretending to address the pandemic that is now fully out of control across the country, it seems like a lot of folks need reassurance that the will of the people will be carried out. To that end, I felt that this post from a few years back, written at the time of the damaging government shutdown of early 2018, still applies.

Plus, I was needing to see some Rockwell Kent paintings this morning. That always does me some good.

Believe in reason and have a good day.



 

Rockwell Kent- The Trapper

 



Force against reason: reason, because it has the power of enlisting forces to fight for it, will win. From the recognition of that truth has come democracy.

-Rockwell Kent



There are a lot of things that could be said this morning, especially with a governmental shutdown taking effect overnight. This shutdown is the symbolic culmination of the political attitudes of the past twenty years that have led us away from compromise and reason as a means of governance. I am not going to go into my own grievances here.

I’ve done that enough.

But I will say that for all the anxiety this government produces as it tries to force itself closer and closer to some form of autocratic authoritarianism, I am somewhat optimistic. And that may be because I agree with the premise of the quote above from one of my favorite artists, Rockwell Kent.

I do feel that we are in struggle right now between force and reason, that the direction in which we are being directed via deception and fear-mongering– the force here–goes against the ideals and virtues that we have long professed as the basis for our democracy– reason.  The idea that reason is enduring because it has the ability to enlist those who will fight for the truth of it is reassuring to me and seems to be backed by history.

What we are experiencing is reminiscent of the way other empires have ended, when the beliefs that grew these empires are set aside by rulers who see themselves as being above those ideals and virtues. But I believe we are still a nation with enough reasonable people to resist the forces of greed and nativism that have descended upon us.

And that gives me hope, even on these days that seem so dark.

So, thanks for reminding me of that, Mr. Kent. Here’s a video of some of Kent’s landscape work, primarily of some of my favorite landscapes from the Adirondacks, Vermont and Greenland. The format of the video is a little cutesy for my taste but it shows a lot of great work from Kent and features the music of Edgar Meyer and Joshua Bell. Can’t go wrong with that combo.

Have a good day and stay reasonable.



Read Full Post »


A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

–Maya Angelou


I needed something with hope this morning, something not wrought of despair. I need something on a higher plane today, being as I am, so tired of hearing from the hate-filled people, as the late poet Maya Angelou put so well in a certain poem: whose mouths abide cankerous words/ Which challenge our very existence.

That is from the poem above, A Brave and Startling Truth. Maya Angelou wrote this piece in 1995 in specifically for the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. The video below is her reading of the poem at that event.

Hope it lifts you a little higher today.


 

 

Read Full Post »


“At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say,—’Come out unto us.’ But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson


In my Gallery Talk I spoke about the struggle to go inside myself to create in these crazy days. The outer world and its many problems seems to be keeping me from the inner. It’s a frustration that more or less paralyzes me, requiring me to go put in a lot of extra effort just to get down to work.

I am trying to reconcile this, to somehow get past this feeling.

I came across this snippet above from Emerson and it reminded me that I am the one letting the outer world in. Oh, I know you can’t keep it completely out but I was the one opening the door and inviting it in. I was the one who listened to it as it went on about its problems and thought I could somehow help it out, foolish as that idea seems when I write it out. I went, as Emerson writes, into their confusion.

It also reminds me that I get to choose how I respond to the outer world. And being paralyzed is not a choice. It’s a refusal to choose.

So, I choose to shed the paralysis, to get back to work, to explore those inner paths once more. It’s my choice and what I do.

We all have that power to choose how we react to our own forms of paralysis, fear, anger, frustration and so many other negative aspects of our world. Most likely you don’t need to hear this. You probably know this as well as I. But I know I sometimes fall out of rhythm and have to be reminded once in a while.

The painting at the top is from a few years back and lives now with me in the studio. It’s one of those pieces that really hit high notes personally for me right from the moment it took form on the easel. It’s one of those pieces that surprises me in that it hasn’t yet found a home but also please me because I get to live with it for a bit longer. I thought it echoed with the words of Emerson today. It originally echoed with the words from the Rudyard Kipling poem after which it is named, If.

I was going to include the poem here in print but here’s a fine reading of it by actor John Hurt complete with the words shown. And some powerful black and white images.

Have a good day and choose well.


 

Read Full Post »

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

I was checking YouTube yesterday to see if the videos from last week’s Virtual Gallery Talk from the West End Gallery were being viewed. As I came to my page I saw a strange looking entry among my suggested videos. It was my name as a title appearing to overlay what I could see was my work underneath.

There was lettering above my name that appeared to me to be Korean. Clicking on it, I saw that it was a compilation of my work set to three pieces of music with photos of me along with what appeared to be biographical info, all gleaned from the internet.

It’s a strange sensation to see your work in this way, compiled and used by someone else. I am sure there are those of you out there who feel I should be upset over the unauthorized use of my imagery in this way and maybe you’re right. But I knew that once I began putting my work online as I do, it would possibly be subject to this sort of thing. I felt it was worth the risk in order to get my work out there.

I sometimes at gallery talks tell the story of the great photographer Brassai asking his best known subject and friend Pablo Picasso for advice on selling some drawings he had created. For how much should he sell them, for example. Picasso, who liked the Brassai drawings, told him to put a very low price on them because he needed them to get out into the world where they could be known and be seen. Where they could establish a name and achieve a noteworthiness that might one day make all his work valuable. Picasso claimed that had been his route.

It’s advice I still give young artists.

And that’s how I view this– a result of putting my work out into the world.

Actually, I am happy and flattered that my work has reached across the world and translates well into other cultures. You go into this hoping your work speaks to all people and to get a small bit of proof that it might doing that is gratifying.

There are worst things in this world.

Take a look, if you so desire. I could do without the photos of myself but I like the musical accompaniment’s different moods. Have a good day.

Read Full Post »

I don’t believe that there’s anything I’d like to do less than watch myself talk. And the last couple of days have sure reinforced that belief.

But that’s what I’ve done for the last couple of days as I have edited the video from Saturday’s Virtual Gallery Talk from the West End Gallery. I am cutting out some rough spots between the segments, such as where I swing my camera around to tour the gallery a bit or the transition from the prize drawing (which has also been cut) to the Q&A segment. Outside of the prize drawing, which we decided to cut because of privacy concerns, no real content has been cut.

There are going to be two videos. This first one presents just my prepared presentation. The second, which will be out  tomorrow or Friday, will have all the segments.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience and expect that these lessons will show up in future videos of even higher quality. Thanks to Jesse, Linda and John at the West End Gallery for all the extra work (and anxiety) that went into making this happen. It was a lot more work than any of us anticipated. And many thanks to everyone who took an hour or two out of a busy summer Saturday to tune and make it all happen. And congratulations to the winners of the paintings. Hope they live up to your expectations!

Hopefully, as it’s being presented, it will give you a fairly representative gallery talk experience. So, for those of you out there who wanted to take part but weren’t able, here’s the first part of my Virtual Gallery Talk from the West End Gallery.

Read Full Post »


This year’s edition of my annual solo exhibit, From a Distance, opens today at the West End Gallery in Corning.

As I’ve noted here recently, this year marks 25 years that I have been showing my paintings at the West End. It’s been a long trek from that day in early 1995– I believe it was late January– when I came into the gallery with a milk crate that served as my portfolio, roughly stuffed with bits of painted paper and cardboard. I was hoping for a critique and had no expectations or hopes that that particular day would ever lead to a satisfying career that has spanned 25 years (thus far) and 50+ solo exhibitions that have sent my work around the country and the world, as well.

Funny how one day, one positive reaction, can change your life.

In all those years, this show certainly has the oddest feel for me. It is very bittersweet. There is that celebratory feel that comes with marking 25 years at the gallery, highlighted by what I feel is one of my strongest shows there.

But I am saddened that I won’t be able to fully witness how people see the paintings, to talk with them and describe, person to person, some of the stories and meanings behind them. That’s a big loss for me, personally. I usually pull enthusiasm for moving forward out of these shows and I can already feel the loss.

But that is just another thing to deal with in a year filled with challenges for us all. In big picture terms, it’s pretty small so I choose to focus on the celebratory parts of this show and the work itself. As I said, I believe it is a very strong show and there are so many pieces that I could easily call my favorites.

I hope you get a chance to stop in at the West End Gallery and take in the exhibit. Jesse and Lin have done their usual masterful job in putting the work together and are taking great care to make the experience as safe and comfortable as possible.

Here’s a slideshow of the show — set to a wonderful version of Work Song from Vince Guaraldi — just to give you some glimpses.  Thanks!

Read Full Post »

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

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

Herman Melville

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

Social Distancing, this year’s edition of my annual show of new work, along with some vintage pieces this year, opens tomorrow at the Principle Gallery. It’s in the gallery now and I am enclosing a video slideshow below that previews the show.

As I wrote here recently, this was a tough show to put together, much more difficult than in past years, with plenty of distractions and setbacks. And I think the fact that this was such a hard fought show makes it even more gratifying to see the work in it together as a show.

I think it is the diversity of this show, with its many elements and styles along with the thread of continuity that runs from the early work up to the most recent, that best reflects the multitude of emotional bursts that have marked us a nation in the recent past. Mirroring the highs and lows we are experiencing, there is work that seems darker and foreboding alongside work that is placidly strong and forward looking with hope.

The title, Social Distancing, is definitely a product of this time, an admonition to keep ourselves safe by keeping people away at arms length. Well, maybe not just arms length but six feet, at least. The power of that phrase though is striking because it has pointed out in real terms how much we actually need real human connection to navigate through this world. I would like to think that much of the work in this show displays both the effect of the distance that we are enduring along with the sense of connection we struggle to find in this world. Hopefully, many of us have come to realize that, like the words of Melville at the top, we have a thousand fibers connecting us and that our actions fan out from us, having effects that touch many.

I guess it could be said that even though we might be socially distanced, we can remain spiritually connected. We can still affect others, hopefully in positive ways. Maybe that’s the message I want someone to take from this exhibit.

Maybe not. Hopefully, you will see it in your own way. Those unique interpretations only deepen my gratification.

Here’s the preview. Have a good day.

Read Full Post »

I have a project that needs tending this morning so I am going to replay a post about a painting from the enigmatic Symbolist painter, Fernand Khnopff, whose work has been described as “visual realism combined with a mood of silence, isolation, and reverie.” It also includes an interesting video about this painting from the Khan Academy which is a great free site for well done courses and videos on a wide variety of subjects. For those of you with a lot of extra time these days, it’s worth a look.

Fernand Khnopff I Lock the Door Upon Myself

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

God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?…

Christina Rossetti

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

The painting at the top, I Lock My Door Upon Myself,  is from Belgian Symbolist painter Fernand Khnopff who lived from 1858 until 1921.  The title is taken from a verse of a poem, Who Shall Deliver Me? (shown in part above), from Christina Rossetti, the pre-Raphaelite poetess whose brother,  Dante Rossetti, was an influence on the work of Khnopff.

It’s a haunting painting, one that always makes me stop a bit when I stumble across an image of it. Perhaps it is the symbolist elements in it but for me it is probably the beautiful construction of forms and color that give the overall piece an almost abstract feel. Just a great image in so many ways.

I came across a video from the free educational series Khan Academy that offers a short and insightful exploration of the painting’s symbolism. Very interesting if you have five minutes or so.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: