March 7th, 2014
It seems to me you could get away with anything within the confines of a gallery. You make the place look like a white walled gallery thereby raising the attention paid to the infrastructure, the repurposing of an industrial space for example, bare concrete floors, state of the art LED lighting rigs, remnants of brick walls and plumbing overhead, someone behind a Mac at a desk in the front, basically an empty room. I mean you don’t really need to show any art at all. You just raise our awareness and then find some other way to make money.
My parents are in the process of downsizing and so many loads have carted out to the trash and piles of miscellaneous household items have already been trucked to the Viet Nam Veterans. The other night my mom unintentionally threw my dad’s glasses away so Peggi and I took everything back out of the trash and found them near the bottom. I took my dad to a specialist today and the doctor wanted to put my father on a particular drug but my father’s MVP health plan didn’t cover it because it hasn’t been approved by the shirts yet. Grr. And then the doctor scheduled my dad for two tests next week which he explained would have to be performed on two separate days if he wanted insurance to cover them. There wash no good explanation for this hurdle.
With almost ninety percent of the Great Lakes frozen over we wind up with no “Lake Affect” snow and twice as many sunny days. The wind coming out of the west normally collects moisture and dumps it when it hits land again but with all the ice out there this supply of moisture is cut off. I suspect the winter is done for this weekend but it was a great winter for cross-country skiing so I’m not complaining.
March 5th, 2014
I love this landscape and the weather we have been having. We’ve been heading to the beach everyday to ski and marvel at the forever changing landscape. There was no open water a few days ago. It was all floating ice chunks as far as you could see, but an offshore breeze has taken it all out to sea. We do not have a rocky coast. These ice mounds are exactly that, all ice, and you can walk on the lake up to the edge. Yesterday we strained to make out what the white and sometimes dark things were that were floating near the horizon. Drama and mystery is a powerful lure.
Margaret Explosion returns to the Little Theater Café for the next thirteen Wednesdays.
Margaret Explosion – Dreamland
Margaret Explosion – “Dreamland”
March 3rd, 2014
Skiing along Durand Eastman beach was so much fun we did it two days in a row. The beach is quite a bit larger now because it’s frozen for a ways out and the ice cliffs that have formed at the edge are quite dramatic. They will all be gone in a few weeks.
Only the hardy types were out today, a crystal clear, blue sky day with temperatures in single digits. There are far fewer people out on days like this but they are much friendlier. They want to say say hi and exclaim how beautiful it is. If it was this pretty all the time we wouldn’t appreciate what we have. The so called bad weather puts things into perspective.
March 2nd, 2014
The NYT’s Karen Rosenberg recently described Robert Bechtle’s paintings of San Francisco streetscapes as “resolutely banal.” That phrase struck a chord with me. I have an affinity for banal. This photo came about in the most banal of circumstances. Peggi was visiting el servicio en Sanlúcar de Barrameda and left me on the street standing next to this readymade.
March 1st, 2014
Phil Hoffman, as Alexa Scott-Flaherty a fellow LAByrinth Theater Company member referred to him, was not only an incredible actor he was a superb teacher. Alexa took notes when she worked with him at the company and she read from them last night as she introduced “Jack Goes Boating,” Seymour’s 2010 directorial debut at the Little Theater’s ongoing Philip Seymour Hoffman Film Tribute Series. As an artist, Phil’s advice was to trap yourself. Our tendency is to move toward a safe zone but we have to fight that and go toward risk, in effect trapping yourself. He reminded fellow actors that they were responsible to history, to a long line of those who came before you and those who will follow.
Hoffman was way out on the edge in “Jack Goes Boating” and he fought the small cast along with him. This was a moving tribute and inspiration.
February 28th, 2014
There was barely enough snow to ski on yesterday so we put our skis in the car and drove to the park. Most days we ski in the woods but without a good snow cover you’re libel to trip over a branch or root and your fall is not cushioned. The flat open spaces in the park were especially thin though with all the wind. We hadn’t even looked at the temperature before we left so we unprepared for 8 degrees and wind. Where normally you warm up in minutes we froze and and trudged back to the car. Today looks better. I had to shovel a path to the mailbox so I could pick up our paper in my slippers.
February 26th, 2014
There is not that much open space available in the town of Irondequoit. One of Rochester’s oldest bedroom communities, it is surrounded by water on three sides – the river, the lake and the bay. I remember a driving range on Titus Avenue that I used to pass on my way to the House of Guitars. People would tee off up near the road and their drives would go straight downhill.
That same hill was developed into track homes and when it would rain the water washed down the streets overwhelming a creek at the bottom of the hill, a creek that wound it’s way through the lowlands onto Spring Valley and Hoffman Road making the roads impassible. The town increased their tax base but this project was a huge blunder. They had to divert the creek, put in a retention pond and raise the elevation of the roads.
The creek now meanders through the newly minted wetlands and flows under the road through a number of culverts. The strangest stuff comes floating down from the subdivision – styrofoam coolers, stuffed animals, someone’s recycling bin and balls.
February 25th, 2014
Our neighbors were looking at our photos from Spain while we had dinner. I haven’t weeded them out yet so there were some real clunkers in there like the ones that go off as I try to turn the camera off and put it back in my pocket – a giant hand and a view of my nostrils.
Rick said I ought to take photos of Rochester that show this city off to foreigners. I thought about this for a while. I don’t think I take photos any differently while traveling than I do every day but maybe I do. If I was a Spaniard visiting Rochester and out walking in the Seabreeze area I surely would have stopped to grab this shot.
February 23rd, 2014
OK. We’re back but we want to go back. I have a few photos to sort through first. During the Viet Nam war, when I was hitchhiking back and forth to to Indiana, the truck stops in Ohio always carried these hats with the unofficial Marine motto, “Shoot ‘Em All. Let God Sort ‘Em Out.” I keep about half.
February 21st, 2014
I have been photographing dumpsters for a few years now, not exclusively of course, just when I come across an interesting one. Our neighbors have one out in front of their house right now. We’re guessing they’re redoing their kitchen. It’s been out there for a few weeks and it is nothing but ugly.
In Spain they are always reworking buildings. Some of them have been around for five hundred years so there are many layers of crudely cut stone, brick, tile and old wooden beams. Exterior doors can be twelve or twenty foot high and maybe five or six inches thick. Living with all this old stuff, Spaniards have developed both a proud appreciation for it and an intense drive toward modernism.
The sound of grinders and jackhammers is everywhere. Dust spewing out of open windows is sometimes so thick you are forced to take an alternate route. And then there are the beautiful dumpsters left out on the street until the project is done.
February 20th, 2014
Spain is a Catholic country. Has been since Fernando and Isabela, Los Reyes Católicos, took the country back from the Moors in 1492. Streets, towns and whole cities are named after saints. In the old sections there are churches on every block. Some of them were Moorish temples before the Moors were given the boot and some were even Byzantine churches before the Moors took over so they are very old and always a treat for the eyes.
The country, cities and towns each have a patron saint and they do it up on the respective feast days. In most churches you’ll find a statue of the Virgin Mary (who is revered more than the Christ himself) and a statue of Christ in some sort of Passion-related torment. These two statues stand apart from the many others because they are the ones that are trotted out and lugged through the streets on floats during Holy Week, the last week of Lent and week immediately before Easter.
These arcane customs and the idolization of the saints were always my favorite parts of church when I was growing up. I collected holy cards like baseball cards and pick up a short stack each time we visit Spain. I still love this stuff and am happy to get reacquainted with the religion I left behind so long ago.
February 20th, 2014
Spain was a special place for Hemingway. Many bars in the old section of Madrid claim that he hung out there. El Matadero, the former slaughterhouse where the bullfighting-obsessed Hemingway liked to watch matadors practice killing bulls and the old women drink the blood of the freshly slaughtered cattle, has been transformed into a Dia Beacon/Mass MoCA like space for art installations, theater, dining or just strolling. Free admission. The government here does things like that. They have a Minister of Culture.
It was dark before we left and of course the lights came on, but with some simple thought the red brick slaughterhouse was bathed in red flood lights and the bare trees in front were lit with white. A display worthy of Duane Sherwood’s work with New Math and Personal Effects.
February 19th, 2014
At the end of every Breaking Bad episode they showed a quick shot of Gran Via in Madrid, the namesake of the show’s production company. The dramatic, round Metropolis and Rolex buildings look fantastic from the street but for three Euros you can take take an elevator to the top of the nearby Círculo de Bellas Arte building and get a sensational 360 of Madrid with the white snow capped mountains in the distance. Best tres Euros you’ll ever spend.
February 17th, 2014
As sub culture/high culture hops go this is as deep as it gets. Thank God Federico Garcia Lorca is still revered by some. A cool bookstore near Plaza Santa Ana called Sin Tarima Libros (with a choice selection of vinyl record reissues including Bill Evans “Waltz for Debby”) that we had stopped into twice already was having a performance of Lorca poetry accompanied by a flamenco guitarist.
We reserved a spot and showed up as prompted fifteen minutes before 20:00. We were the only Americanos in the crowd of eighteen or so and were introduced as such at the conclusion of the performance. I didn’t understand a word of it but it was unbelievable.
February 17th, 2014
I’m quite certain not even the locals of Arcos de la Frontera can believe how beautiful their place is. The old section is a narrow white village that runs up a mountain and offers spectacular views from both sides. We spent the better part of a day trying to walk around their mountain but were forced to take a bus when the road got too dangerous. We spotted an intriguing sign for a place called Boabdil and followed it down a path on the side of the mountain.
A sign out front claimed the place was about three thousand years old. There was no one around and the tiles on the walls looked like they had been done by a madman. We entered cautiously and a man came out from the back room. “Pasa, Pasa,” he said, encouraging us to enter a cave that went straight into the hillside from his bar. We looked inside and came out quickly. He seemed friendly but we both felt paranoid like we were being set up.
We ordered a beer and I noticed he poured them from cans. I looked at his Cruzcampo tap and detected it had not been used in years. We sat out front at the only table in the place and both felt like we were being drugged. But the music got better and then sounded great. Peggi asked who it was and jotted down the flamenco artist’s name. A local stopped by and ordered a beer. He was all smiles. The drugs were good.
February 16th, 2014
Philip Guston was really taken by the shapes of the trees in Rome. He was invited to teach there and did a series of paintings generally referred to as the Roma Series. These trees, also in Spain and in Doñana National Park, are seductively shaped. They contrast perfectly with the tall pointed cypress trees that are everywhere.
The public service workers trim the trees that line the streets in a severe manner. At this time of year, before most of the trees have bloomed, you wonder if they could ever bloom again. The orange trees in the south, which are already blooming, look like lollipops but are cut flat on the bottom at about my height.
Further reading (en ingles)
February 15th, 2014
We came to Spain without a solid agenda. We thought it might be nice to go to the south where it is quite a bit warmer and off season as well. We talked of crossing the border into Portugal but every time we checked the weather in Tavira it was raining and we talked of renting a car but we never got around to that. So we took an autobús out into the country and up into the hills where we have pretty much sat and walked in circles, enjoying the ambiance immensely. Roosters are crowing outside and the view from the top of Arcos de la Frontera is not bad at all.
February 14th, 2014
We weren’t sure what sherry was so we did a wiki search for it and found that it is a drink developed by the Phoenicians in 800 BC, fortified new wine, and it is a anglicized mispronunciation of “Jerez,” the town we were in. Jerez de la Frontera is in the southwestern part of Spain near Portugal where they make their proprietary “port,” which is pretty much the same thing as sherry, I think.
Jerez is strangely hard to pronounce. The “J” is like an “h” and the accent is on the second syllable and the “z” at the end sounds more like a soft “th” and trails off as soon as it starts. From here we took a half hour bus ride to Sanlucar de Barrameda on the Atantic shore. We wanted to see the national forest and nature preserve down here called Doñana. We spotted a wild boar and deer with great big web-like racks. I took this photo of them but they looked more spectacular through our guide’s binoculars.
February 13th, 2014
After quite a few trips to España we finally came around to ordering coffee without using the word “café,” the way the locals do. You walk into a cafe where the doors are usually open to the street, you say Buenos Días or at least Hola upon entering to the barkeep and the nearby patrons. To skip this stage is very rude. This was pointed out to us in a good natured way many years ago and it seems so right.
Today, we said, “Hola. Dos con leches por favor” and it did the trick. You typically stand at the bar and the coffee is made to order as you watch. While the coffee is being pressed, the server will set a saucer with a small spoon and sugar packet on it onto the the bar in front of you. He or she will pour the coffee into the cup, or glass in the funkier places, and then they will steam the milk and add it to coffee. We like this routine so much we do it at at least two times each day in Spain.
February 11th, 2014
Spain has a way to knock you out when you least expect it. We stepped off the train in Jerez de la Frontera and entered a traffic circle with this giant sculpture by Victor Ochoc in the center. The Minotaur from Greek mythology has come to represent all bull headed creatures like me, a classic Taurus. The Minotaur eventually got a bull’s head. Picasso worked with this character extensively. Elsewhere in Jerez we came across this.