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Posts Tagged ‘Octagon Art Gallery’

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My Icons & Exiles exhibit opens tonight at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. There is an opening reception that runs from 7-9 PM. The show hangs in the gallery until September 20. If you’re in the area, please stop in and I’ll be glad to spend some time telling you some of the stories behind the work in this show.

And there are a lot of stories in this show.

Much of the work in this show is from what I consider my three most personal series of paintings, the Exiles, the Outlaws and the Icons. For example, the painting at the top is the first painting completed in the Exiles series back in 1995 and is titled A Prayer For Light. For myself, from a standpoint of meaning, it might be the most important painting I’ve done. It hasn’t been displayed publicly in well over 20 years.

I am proud of this show and believe it is an interesting exhibit, one that I hope will provoke thought in those who see it. The Patterson Library is a beautiful building and the Octagon Gallery is a wonderful space in which to show work.  I hope you can make it to the lovely town of Westfield to see it.

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ICONS & EXILES

Now at the Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library, Westfield, NY 

Runs From Friday, August 23- Friday, September 20, 2019

Opening Reception Friday, August 23, 7-9 PM

Art Talk Thursday, September 12, 6-7 PM

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As I’ve noted here recently, my Icons & Exiles show begins tomorrow evening with an opening reception from 7-9 PM in the Octagon Gallery at Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. One of the things that most attracted me to accepting the invitation to do this show was the opportunity to exhibit work that has seldom, if ever, been shown in public. This includes the little piece below, a small painting from around 1997 that has been a personal favorite for all that time. I am reposting a blog entry about this painting from back in 2010. Hope you can make it out to see it in the show.

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More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones

— Mother Theresa

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This is a little piece that I did many years ago, one that never made it out of the studio. A piece that is really for me.  I can’t say that it’s a great piece of work or even good. But that doesn’t matter because it’s one of my personal favorites. It’s informally called Be Careful What You Wish For after the old adage: Be careful what you wish because you may just get it. I always bear this saying in mind to remind myself that with everything you desire there is a responsibility, a price to be paid that may not be evident on its surface.

 The unconsidered consequences we often fail to ponder when making wishes and decisions.

Kind of like the story of The Monkey’s Paw, the old tale where a family receives a monkey’s paw from a friend who has just died. The paw is a talisman with the supposedly mystical power to grant the holder three wishes. The family wishes for money and their son is killed in a horrific accident and they receive a large amount of money from his insurance policy. After the funeral, they are stricken with grief and they wish for their son to be alive again.  Soon, there is a knock at their door. It is their son–alive. But he is still horribly mutilated from the accident and in extreme agony. They use the third wish to wish him dead again.

This painting also reminds me of Pandora’s Box, where Pandora is given a box (or jar, depending on how the story is told) by the god Zeus with the instructions to not open it under any circumstance. Of course, she does. Immediately, all the evils in the world are released and in her panic, she slams the lid back down, trapping Hope in the box.

The man with the shovel in the hole here seems to be in the same situation. In my mind, he was digging for things that were better left alone and they soon flew from the pit he had dug, even as he feverishly tried to fill in the hole. What exactly they are, I am not sure. There is a giant or a troll that peeks from beneath a tree. Perhaps they are demons. Or regrets. Or lesser versions and aspects of the digging person, things he has been keeping inside for all his life.

Things that were better left alone.

Like many things, I am not sure. Whatever the case, it remains a little painting that always triggers thought in me. That’s probably why it remains a favorite.

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Yesterday, I delivered the work for my Icons & Exiles show to the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. I have to admit that the gallery isn’t anything like the image of it I imagined when I was approached a couple of years ago to do this exhibit. But seeing the space and the library again put any doubts I had to rest. What a great gallery space! And the library is such a beautiful building! Both the gallery and the library are gems.

I am actually excited to see this group of work in this space.

The work for this show primarily consists of work from my early Exiles series along with my more recent Icons series. There is also a smaller group from my 2006 Outlaws series along with a variety of pieces that don’t fit into any series. They are just favorites of mine, personal paintings that I think are pretty interesting.

There are also two pieces from my Archaeology series including the painting shown at the top, Archaeology: A New History. This painting hasn’t been shown in many years and is, at 36″ by 48″, the largest painting of this series. It is one of my favorites from this series so I am pleased to have it back out in public view as part of this show.

I think this will be an interesting show, one that has a more narrative feel than my typical shows. There are many stories being told in these paintings.

I know that Westfield is a bit out of the way for many folks. For my friends in Erie, where my work has shown at the Kada Gallery there for the past 24 years, it is a 30 mile trek and for those in my home area it’s a few hours drive. But it takes you by lovely Lake Chautauqua and its famous institute and Westfield itself is a peach of a town. Hopefully, this show will make the trip worthwhile.

So, if you find yourself out around Lake Chautauqua or,over a short distance, closer to Lake Erie this Friday, August 23, between 7 and 9 PM, please stop in and take a look at the Icons & Exiles show at the Octagon Library at the historic Patterson Library.

I’ll be glad to tell you some stories.

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As the next couple of days are crazy busy for me as I get ready for a Gallery Talk and a show delivery, I wanted to share another little seen piece that will be part of  Icons & Exiles, my exhibit that opens next Friday at the Octagon Gallery.

The piece is Two Sides, shown here on the right. It’s from my Outlaws series from back in 2006 and is one of my favorites from that series. There is something about the dark and light of this piece that gives me a sense of the yin and the yang symbol, the idea that we all have opposing polarities within ourselves.

Two sides.

The Outlaws series introduced the element of a handgun into my work. It wasn’t meant to show the gun in any heroic form. Rather, the gunmen in these paintings seem to be, for me, all possessed with a deep and mortal fear.

The gun in these paintings is a sign of weakness, not strength. They fear something they can’t see, something that they don’t know or understand.

This particular painting has hung within my sight in the studio and it helps me a lot personally. When the events of the world–outer and inner– get to me and I feel anxiety building, I look at this piece and it reminds me that my anxiousness is all built on fear. In that moment, I see I am that guy grasping tightly to my gun looking out at nothing, imagining unseen monsters that are coming for me.

Just naming it as fear makes it subside a bit, brings everything into a more practical and manageable form. I can choose to be scared of bogeymen or can move on with a degree of confidence that I will be capable of handling anything that comes my way.

Fear is a powerful thing, a weakness that alters our perceptions and enables poor decisions and actions.

Fear is the darkness and courage is the light. Holding onto that gun keeps this person in the darkness, in the grip of fear.

That’s what I see in this piece.

You can see this piece and many more like it at the Icons & Exiles exhibit, opening next Friday, August 23, (opening reception 7-9 PM) at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. The exhibit runs until September 20, 2019 and I will be giving an Art Talk there on Thursday, September 12, at 6 PM.

And this Saturday, August 17, there is my annual Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery, beginning at 1 PM. Good talk, some laughs and, best of all, PRIZES! See you there!

Here’s one of my favorites from Richard Thompson, an acoustic version of his classic Shoot Out the Lights.

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I am busy this week prepping for my Gallery Talk this coming Saturday at the West End Gallery and in getting work ready for my Icons & Exiles exhibit. That will open at the Octagon Gallery at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY next Friday, August 23, with an opening that begin at 7 PM.

The Icons & Exiles show will mainly feature paintings from my early Exiles series from 1995, my ancestral Icons series from 2016, and the Outlaws series from 2006. There will also be a small group of my more typical work as well as some oddities that don’t really fall into any of those categories.

One of these is the small painting at the top, Struwwelpeter. It was painted around the same time as the Outlaws series in 2006 but I wouldn’t consider him an outlaw in the truest sense of the word. He is more of an outcast, a young man who refused to bathe or cut his hair or trim his nails. His hair is described as standing up on his head and his nails as being long and pointy. As a result, this unkempt young man is forever unloved.

Struwwelpeter was the title character in a small book of strange and sometimes grisly cautionary children’s tales designed to warn children not to misbehave. It was put together in Germany in 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman, a doctor who assembled these stories for his three year old son. He printed a small edition and it became popular immediately. It has became a classic, remaining in print around the world since that time.

One of the more recognizable stories from the book concerns the Scissorman. This short episode warns that if young children sucked their thumbs, the Scissorman will find them and cut off their thumbs.

Do not suck your thumb!

Struwwelpeter hasn’t been seen in well over a decade so I am pleased to have him out and in public, even as slovenly as he might be. There are more oddities like him in this show, some that have shared here in the past and some never seen. It should be a fun show.

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UPCOMING EVENTS:

GALLERY TALK-This Saturday, August 10, beginning at 1 PM at the WEST END GALLERY–Good talk, some fun and prizes!

ICONS & EXILES OPENING- Friday, August 23, from 7-9 PM at the OCTAGON GALLERY at the PATTERSON LIBRARY in Westfield, NY

ART TALK- Thursday, September 12, beginning at 6 PM at Octagon Gallery, Patterson Library, Westfield, NY

GALLERY TALK- Saturday, September 21, beginning at 1 PM at PRINCIPLE GALLERY, ALEXANDRIA, VA– Details coming

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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.

 

 

 

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