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Posts Tagged ‘West End Gallery’

I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

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This painting, Resplendent,  which is now at the West End Gallery, reminds me very much of one of my favorite quotes from Vincent Van Gogh, shown above. Sometimes the beauty of nature sets everything right and wipes away the obscuring webs brought on by things we cannot control, creating a path for an expression of the effect from witnessing that beauty.

In my experience, these moments of clarity are accompanied by that uncertainty to which Van Gogh refers. It is not doubt, however. It is more like the recognition of losing conscious control to an outer (or inner) entity, one where all decisions have been made beyond your waking mind.

As in a dream.

The work at that point just comes seemingly on its own, as though it was meant to be or had a need to exist.

I know this a strained explanation. It’s such a nebulous thing, this act of creating something from what often appears to be nothing, that explanations and definitions often confuse more than clarify.

And maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe the very purpose of art is to make us aware of the mystery and uncertainty of this life. Maybe it shouldn’t be easily explained.

That being said, I will stop now. Have a good day– enjoy the mystery and beauty around you.

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Labor Day weekend and I wasn’t planning on posting anything today, figuring that I was due a break because at heart I always considered myself more under the label of worker than artist. Even in my terminology paintings are more often referred to as works or pieces. And when I was starting out I felt my ability to labor, focused and on task, wold provide a big boost in pursuing this path. And it did.

So Labor Day remains a favorite holiday for me in theme. I like the idea of work and the meaning and purpose behind it. I like the history of the holiday, how the growth of  Labor and Unions being celebrated coincided with the growth of this nation and the middle class, how these movements gave us the protections and guarantees that we all too often take for granted these days. We forget that these  things were not given to the workers– they were demanded and fought for.

Bled and died for.

So have a great weekend. Picnic. Parade. To my friends in Texas, you don’t have to be reminded about work– you have much ahead of you. But take a minute and think about the work you do, the life you live and those earlier people who worked and fought hard so that you might have a better life than their own.

Here’s a great piece of classic jazz from Cannonball Adderley. It is titled Work Song. Jazz might not be your thing but you have to admit that these guys are working it. Oh, and the little piece of work at the top is a new small painting, Sound & Silence, that is now at the West End Gallery.

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“The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.” 

 Friedrich Nietzsche

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Today is the last day that my solo show, Self Determination, hangs at the West End Gallery in Corning.

It’s been a great show by all metrics. Many paintings have found new homes. Many people have come through the gallery to see the work. We had a full house for the Gallery Talk that went with this show.

Personally, beyond seeing people take the work home with them, it was a very rewarding show in the recognition and acceptance of my own voice. As paintings came off the wall and were replaced by work that the gallery had on hand, there wasn’t a loss of constancy between the new and older works. I had been a bit worried that the older work would stand out but it fell together seamlessly. There were paintings that were a couple of years old that felt reborn among the newer paintings.

And that pleased me, confirming my belief and hope that I was really working in my own creative voice. This work was who I am. It wasn’t forced, wasn’t contrived. It was real.

And for me, that is what I have been seeking. I have always wanted the work to speak to the viewer in plain and simple terms, like a conversation with a friend where you are absolutely yourself, with no pretense or posturing. With an openness that allows free expression of deeper emotion. And to my eyes and senses, that was what I was feeling with this group of work.

I want to thank everyone who came out for the show during its run, especially those of you who chose to make some of these paintings part of your life. Your support and your eyes are a constant source of encouragement.

And special thanks, to Jesse and Lin at the West End Gallery for your belief, your acceptance and your always honest representation of my work. I cannot fully express how much that has meant to me personally and professionally.

So, that being said, if you want to see the show, today is your last day. Hope you can make it.

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Just a reminder that Self Determination, my solo show at the West End Gallery, comes down after this coming Thursday, August 31.

It’s been a great show thus far and I send out appreciative Thank You’s to all of you who have taken time to see the show. So, there still a few days yet to get into the gallery if you want to see the show and haven’t been able to find the time.

Hope you can make it!

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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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With my annual Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery coming up tomorrow, I thought I’d share a blog  entry from back in 2009 about a talk that was approaching then. I still have some of the same anxieties but it has gotten easier and I think a lot smoother over the years:

Gallery TalkWell, today’s my annual Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery in Corning in conjunction with my show, Dispatches, which is hanging there until the end of August.  I’ve done quite a few of these talks over the years, probably 14 or 15, so I know what to expect.  But there’s always a little anxiety anytime you have to speak in front of any group of people.

My gallery talks are always pretty much off the top of my head which, when it works and the audience is receptive and interacting, is good.  When it doesn’t work, it’s pretty ugly, especially for me.  A lot of blank stares and awkward silences as I try to find a hole in which I can hide.  Luckily, that’s only happened once or twice.

The first talk I did at the West End was back in 1997 and I had put everything I wanted to get across into a short speech that I wrote out and memorized.  Well, the talk began and I reeled off my little speech.  It was pretty good, everything moving along smoothly, until I came to the end of my prepared statement and glimpsed at the clock.

It had lasted about 4 minutes and my mind was a totally blank slate.

Tom Gardner, then co-owner of the gallery and a well known painter, had told me a little trick before the talk.  He told me to always have a glass of water and when I came to a spot where I was stuck with nothing to say to simply walk back and forth in front of the audience and take a very slow sip of the water.  Look thoughtful.  I thought it was pretty good advice until I realized I would be pacing back and forth, sipping water, for 56 minutes.

That much sipping would also demand a bathroom break.

Luckily, Tom rescued me with a question and from there it snowballed with the rest of the crowd asking questions, one subject leading to another. Phew!  Over the years I’ve gotten more comfortable with the whole thing and have an assortment of anecdotes to fall back on when things start to falter.

Another reason I don’t go in with a prepared speech is that each group of people is different.  Some groups are more interested in talking technique, wanting to know how each piece is painted.  What type of paint I use and how I achieve certain aspects in the paintings.  That kind of thing.  But others are not so interested in the how but in the why.  They prefer to hear what the stories are behind the paintings.  So, there’s a moment at the beginning of each talk  when I have to gauge what approach suits this particular group best.  I really try to stay away from the technical side for the most part because sometimes, when I’m droning on about such things, I can see the non-painters’ eyes glazing over.  I try to get off the subject as soon as possible when I spot this and try to engage their interest.

It usually goes pretty well and we all have a few laughs.  I’m hoping today is no different.  If you’re in the area today, the talk takes place at noon at the West End Gallery in Corning, NY.

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Win This Painting!

I think that last paragraph definitely applies to tomorrow’s talk. I am pretty sure it’s going to go well. I’ll tell some stories, we’ll have some laughs, maybe reveal a couple of things you didn’t know before and then I give away some stuff. That’s plural, as those who have come to these talks in the past will recognize. The painting shown here is the main prize but you never know what else will show up.  So tomorrow, Saturday, August 5, I encourage you to come out to the West End Gallery at 1 PM. Maybe come a little early to claim a seat. It should be fun.

An ASL Interpreter will be on hand

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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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