Subtractive Process

March 31st, 2015

Snow sculpture on deck 2015

I was talking to a woman at Martin’s party about why I like charcoal drawing. She taught for years at the Creative Workshop and is now studying at the Chicago Art Institute. She explained that she was pursuing a course of study that involved removing the ego from the art making process. I couldn’t make sense of this and pretty much threw a monkey wrench into the conversation when I said, “Maybe I don’t really know what ego is.” That led to a discussion of art making basics like what tools we use and I found myself saying I probably do more erasing than I do drawing, a subtractive process.

The big pile of snow on our deck, the hard pack stuff that I shoveled off the valley in our roof, has been shrinking for weeks and of course I have been photographing it. I took this picture this morning but the little creature behind the big chunk is gone now. It’s been in the mid forties today and the whole thing will be gone tomorrow.

Homegrown Hotdogs

March 29th, 2015

Tree in icy snow on Hoffman Road in Rochester New York

I emailed Martin to see if we could bring some hummus to his party. The message went as “bring some humans” but he figured it out and responded, I emailed Kathy Farrell about picking up my paintings. I said “I guess pickup is at nine” and that message went through as “Iglesias pick up at nine” Kathy didn’t miss a beat and confirmed the time. Peggi was reading about the local food fair at Harts and I thought I heard her say one of the vendors was offering “homegrown hotdogs.”

After birthday parties on Friday and Saturday night for friends that turned 60, 50 and 65 (all milestones of a sort), I had the hardest time putting down the “T” Magazine Design Issue this morning. I started with it and must have spent two hours with it. The front cover read “The Revival of Everything,” a glorious concept. We’ll pass the issue on to Olga when we’re done with it. She broke her leg this winter, cross-country skiing, and she has another four weeks of immobility. We been saving anything “style” related and passing it on to her. She is going to love the piece on the Gerald and Betty Ford house.

Peggi and I took my show down at the Little on Saturday just in time for Richard Margolis to walk in with some big photos for behind the piano. When the car was loaded with piles of paintings we walked next door for the Hart’s Grocery “Vender Market.” We strolled from outpost to outpost in the store sampling local sweet potato chips, Ouzon licorice pop, Schutts cider and fried cakes, Hedonist chocolate, Native American roasted corn flour cookies, spiced olive oil dippings, Escabeche carrots, Rohrbach Brown Ale, fish oil, Daicon radish kimchi and Coffee Conection coffee.

Fake Deer Project

March 27th, 2015

Deer posing as deer target in Rochester, New York

There is a guy who lives in our neighborhood. We call him the “trench-coat father” because his son walked home from EastRidge HS in a trench-coat in the days after Columbine. The kid is long gone but the guy is out in the yard quite often sporting a mullet. Their fenced in yard is sort of a mini theme park with incongruous stuff like a big black pick-up on a circular driveway with colored rocks and ornate flower holders in the center. There is usually an American flag flying on the pole in the yard and below it are two life-sized fake deer. One of them is lying down and the other is standing nearby.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to collect photos of fake deer in people’s yards but a lot of them are in back yards and they’re surrounded with hay bales. People use them as targets and these are the type of people I would rather not mess with. So this will remain a conceptual project.

Dark And Plodding

March 26th, 2015

Paul Dodd "Basketball Players" 2015

I tried keeping the stage lights up at the Little Theater last night, not for the band but to light the six basketball players hanging on the wall behind the band. I close my eyes so it didn’t bother me. Bob had me turn them down before the second set. The month went fast. The show is over on Saturday and Richard Margolis‘s goes up. I thinking about where to pile up the pictures I take down. Works on paper have a serious advantage when it comes to storage.

Our gig last week was melodic and expansive. Last night’s gig was dark and plodding. I found myself trying to apologize during the break but no one was buying it. We plan to see the Pulp movie, (A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets) tonight. Maybe I’ll learn some tips.

Margaret Explosion - Fertile Crescent Moon
Margaret Explosion – Fertile Crescent Moon

Early Birds And Unfortunate Worms Club

March 25th, 2015

Birds and Worms Clubhouse on Irondequoit Bay in Rochester, New York

My grandfather’s brother, Paul Dodd, was a local ballplayer of note. He took out ads in the paper announcing his availabilty to teams preparing for competition. He played for money. My father has been tracking down links to him in old newspapers, like those found on the amazing Fulton History site, and he has found mentions of Paul playing at Sheehan’s field at 12 Corners, Windsor Beach in Summerville. a ballpark out Edgemere near where Schaller’s is today and this place called “Birds and Worms.”

At painting class last night my father, asked us if we had any idea where “Birds and Worms” was. He thought it near us. We had never heard of it. My father continued his research last night and found it on a Google map. It turns out to be at the closest point on the bay to our house, a former Native American settlement and now home to the Newport Yacht Club. It is at the bottom of Seneca Road down a very steep hill. It is impossible to ride our one speed bikes back up it so we walk them.

The Birds and Worms clubhouse, shown above, hosted meetings of the “Early Birds And Unfortunate Worms Club” and later became the Birds and Worms Hotel, serving smuggled Canadian rum. There is not enough flat land down there for a baseball game so they must have sponsored games at another location. I’m thinking of re-organizing a social club called “Early Birds And Unfortunate Worms Club.”

Yellow Marker

March 24th, 2015

Winter Aconite in backyard, 2015

I was kind of jealous, seeing that picture in the paper of the Winter Aconite blooming on the front yard of the Eastman House. I have been looking for the ones we have in our yard but they are still under the snow. Just a few years back they were out on February 20th. I like thinking about them isolated by the snow, ready to pop with just a little sun. They are official Spring marker. Sure, the geese are squawking overhead, the witch hazel is out, the pussy willows are in bloom but the winter is not over until the yellow Winter Aconite pop. And I found this one out back today, a full month later than in 2012.

Someday

March 23rd, 2015

Champion oak tree at Jeff and Mary Kaye's

This tree is monstrous. It’s a Champion Oak tree and it’s out back of Jeff and Mary Kaye’s. Down by the river that is, just like the Neil Young song, the one that came up in our shuffled library a few days ago. That damn thing still sounds good. Speaking of good. We heard “Bandit” tonight in the car. It may be time to watch “Greendale” again.

Imaginary Emoticon

March 21st, 2015

Don't Tread On Me Flag on Saint Patrick's Day in Rochester, NY

My niece is big on the emoticons. They all look the same to me. Noisy. I would rather read into text messages or read between the lines but most of the time I just take them at face value. These flags are a lot like emoticons. I’m big on imaginary emoticons.

Things To Think About

March 20th, 2015

Bill Keyser, Paul Dodd and John May paintings in scurrent show at the Creative Workshop of the Memorial Art Gallery

I couldn’t be happier with my placement in the current show at the Creative Workshop. My piece, “The Inquisitor,” is sandwiched between a Bill Keyser diptych and John May’s three dimensional space trip. They are two of my favorite painters. I wish Alice de Mauriac was still in town and painting in Fred’s class. Roberta Smith reviewed a Chelsea show this morning by Suzan Frecon, a painter whose current work reminds of Alice’s. There are so many things going on in the world but some days all I can think about is painting.

March Thaw

March 18th, 2015

Charles Burchfield "February Thaw" watercolor 1920

I came across this 1920 Charles Burchfield watercolor in my Tumblr feed this morning. It’s called “February Thaw” and it is in the collection at the Brooklyn Museum. Burchfield spent a good deal of his life in Buffalo and this is pretty much the way things look around here now.

My brother and his wife are headed to Spain for Holy Week. We have been enlisted to provide tips. I wish I could do more that that and join them. Peggi and I were in Granada for Holy Week about twenty years ago and it was unforgettable. Palm Sunday, the start of the week, is still eleven days away but but we are getting in the mood by playing Miles’ “Sketches of Spain.” There is a song called “Saeta” on the record that I really love.

In Spain the “saeta” is an unaccompanied song where the singer shows his or her ardent devotion to a particular image of Christ or the Virgin. A Jewish tradition dating to the 16th century, the saeta is often performed outdoors during Holy Week (next week ) as local parishes’ prized statues are paraded through the street in long, winding processions. A saeta performed from the balcony of an apartment overhead can be a stunning emotional experience.

The processions there are usually accompanied by a rag tag band and the band always stops for the spontaneous performance of a saeta. This song recorded last week at the Little Theatre and now entitled “Saeta” is in the spirit of those bands.

Margaret Explosion - Saeta
Margaret Explosion – Saeta

Time To Restock

March 17th, 2015

Jared standing in street with his waders on.

We were out by our mailboxes talking to our neighbor, Jared, for about ten minutes before I realized he was wearing his waders, boots that seamlessly transition into leakproof pants. He had broken the ice on his bond and he was taking inventory of the fish that survived our tough winter. There were twenty-four groggy fish in the pond before the snow came. They stop eating when the water temperature goes into the forties and just kind of float below the surface.

When the water freezes on top he has a small heater that keeps a small opening in the surface, just enough to let gasses escape. He was in New Zealand and emailed us to request that we clear away the snow from the top of the heater but when we did that the ice froze around the heater’s cover sealing the fish in for a few weeks. So far he has identified four living fish, one injured fish and six dead ones. Jared was in mourning but I am uncertain as to whether it is over the loss of the fish or the engineering failure.

There’s Your Painting

March 16th, 2015

Fred Lipp showing me what works in painting class

My father called this morning to tell me I should buy Jeff Spevak a few beers. He spotted the piece Jeff wrote in Sunday’s paper about the band and my art show at the Little. Nobody reads the paper anymore so I posted it below. I say nobody but I still do. I’m not sure Jeff does because he refers to the “Crimestopper” page as a a “feature once run by the Democrat & Chronicle.” I working on fifteen now that were in the “A” section a few weeks back.

I snapped the photo above to remember what parts of my painting Fred Lipp covered. His grey paper is his primary teaching tool. and you can see it in action here. I was struggling with this one. It got away from me and too many parts were out of whack. He told me he liked how I carved with white in what is shown and this let me see what works. The parts under the paper were smoothed out or blended. The dreaded “blended.” He can sometimes cover three fourths of your painting and then tell you, “There’s your painting.

Paintings by Paul Dodd, Fast Forward Film Fest and G. Love
“The narcotic groove of Rochester’s avant-garde jazz combo Margaret Explosion has returned to its free, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday residency at The Little Café, 240 East Ave. So that’s happening all through May. As a bonus this month, the walls of the venue are filled with the odd, haunting portraits by the band’s drummer, Paul Dodd. The pencil sketches are taken from photos from “Crimestoppers,” head shots of people wanted by the Rochester Police Department, a feature once run by the Democrat & Chronicle (Don’t you ever accuse this newspaper of not supporting the arts).

Six oil portraits on the wall behind where the bands play are particularly intriguing. It’s the 1957 Mynderse Academy basketball team from Seneca Falls, Seneca County, taken from the school’s yearbook. The whole team, it had only six players. In his artist’s statement, Dodd says he picked the team because the players looked “especially hapless.” Indeed, as the headline accompanying the yearbook photo notes, “Team Faced Tough Competition.” Virtually all of the portraits, basketball players and second-degree assault suspects alike, are reduced to heads floating on a white background.” – Jeff Spevak D&C

Reclaiming Our Ground

March 15th, 2015

Charlotte pier in March, Winter 2015, Rochester, New York

We spotted some Pachysandra sticking out from under the piles of snow that line our sidewalk. We picked some sprigs of witch hazel from the bush down the street and brought them home to fully open in our kitchen. They smell rich like butterscotch. We’re two days from Saint Patty’s, our Spring marker, and we took a walk without our skis for the first time in six weeks.

Louise asked what pizzeria we liked and we told her “Nino’s.” We’ve been going there for thirty years, whenever we order pizza that is and that is only about once a year. I described why we liked it, great sauce, fresh ingredients, homemade sausage and thick crust. She stopped me at the thick crust part. “Matthew doesn’t like thick crust.”

On Friday we met Matthew and Louise at La Belle Vita in Webster, right across from the Denonville Inn on Empire Boulevard. They do wood-fired pizza, individual pizzas, and they are thin sliced. I had the “Rustico” with both roasted red and hot green peppers. It was fantastic. At dinner Matthew recommended “Leviathan.” It is currently at the Little and we had gone to see it last week but we never got out of the café and in to the theater. We sat down with Gloria while her husband was playing drums with Maria Gillard. They were stretching with with some rather complicated standards and having a ball. It was all very enjoyable.

I’m glad we got the push for the Russian movie. It’s actually based on an American story. The corrupt power theme works well in all languages. Leviathan is dark and fairly heavy but absolutely beautiful. We loved it.

Reason To Hop A Train

March 13th, 2015

Dubuffet work in "Soul of the Underground" show at MoMA

“Look at what lies at your feet. A crack in the ground, sparkling gravel, a tuft of grass, some crushed debris, offer equally worthy subjects for your applause and admiration.” That’s Jean Dubuffet writing in 1957 about his influences. A Dubuffet show, “Soul of the Underground,”of mostly works on paper is up at MoMA until April 5.

DaVinci’s Thumbprint

March 12th, 2015

Da Vinci Drums of War at Rochester Museum & Science Center

If we hadn’t spotted the announcement for today’s lecture in the morning paper we certainly would have spent the day outdoors. The gas company is replacing the lines on our street and attempting to move everyone’s meter outside. There is a lot of commotion out there and it was especially sunny.

Instead we settled into a darkened auditorium and struggled to understand French scientific engineer, Pascal Cotte, as he described the multi-spectral digital camera he designed to photograph the Mona Lisa for the Louvre. His camera takes images that are 240 million pixels using less light than the painting would receive in the gallery on a typical day.

His reconstructed photos show the incredibly detailed and intricate patterns of lacework on the clothing, You can see the individual strands of hair that made up the eye lashes and what’s left of the eyebrows. You can see DaVinci’s thumbprint in several places. He used it to spread the paint just so. The virtual restoration removes the varnish and restore the painting to the colors that were available in DaVinci’s day. You would think museums would be clamoring for this camera to authenticate paintings in their collection but Dr. Cotte says, “They do not want to know.”

Leonardo started painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 and kept her with him until his death, retouching and reworking her constantly and still felt she was incomplete. X-Rays reveal a different woman at the bottom of this painting. In 1911 an Italian worker at the Louvre stole the painting. He kept it in his home for two years. He added some orange paint to the picture and then tried to sell it to the Uffiza Gallery in Florence, calling it “her rightful home. A madman threw a rock at the painting in 1956. You can still see the damage.

The exhibit, on the top floor of the Museum & Science Center, has several reproductions of Dr. Cotte’s photos of the Mona Lisa along with seventy five of DaVinci’s life-sized, machine inventions. It is rather mind-blowing. The show makes it’s case. “DaVinci is surely the greatest genius the world has ever known.”

New And Original Logic

March 11th, 2015

Three chairs in Jeff and Mary Kaye's yard

I was painting in my studio when the Amazon delivery arrived. I had been tracking it and expected it so it was no surprise but I couldn’t wait to pop it open. I hadn’t stopped thinking about the Madame Cezanne show since we saw it last month at the Metropolitan where it is up for another week.

The first pages I laid my eyes on were in the center of the book and they were all photos of Matisse paintings, a serious student of Cézanne. In fact there was a photo Matisse in his living room in front of one of the Madame Cézanne portraits from the show. Matisse owned it!

About painting Cézanne said, “The artist must perceive and capture harmony from among the many relationships. He must transpose them in a scale of his own invention while he develops them according to a new and original logic. Charlotte Hale, in an essay from the book entitled, “A Template for Experimentation,” says the Madame Cezanne paintings “are quietly explosive paintings about painting.” And that is exactly right on.

Cézanne invents ways to create spacial relationships. Cézanne is a saint.

Related

March 10th, 2015

Dejan and Lanna Pejovic- "Related" art show at  The Geisel Gallery, Rochester, New York

Dejan and Lanna Pejovic’s current art show at the Geisel Gallery in the old Bausch + Lomb headquarters is aptly entitled, “Related.” They are brother and sister and they say it is only a coincidence but Dejan’s terra cotta sculptures and Lanna’s arched-motif paintings are physically related as well. Dejan teaches a class across the hall from Fred Lipp’s class at the Creative Workshop and Lanna teaches drawing and painting at RIT.

I like looking at a show before I read about it so I popped this picture of their artist statements and took a look at it at home. Dejan got his down to one sentence but he probably didn’t even need that. Their work looks fantastic together. The show runs until March 26 so stop in the next time you’re downtown.

Opossum

March 9th, 2015

Possum in snow along trail near the Genesee River in Rochester, New York

Good thing Peggi brought along the tube of “Glide.” We met Jeff and Mary Kaye at their house on the river for French Toast, “lab meat” sausage links and French press coffee. By the time we got suited up the snow was beginning to melt and stick to the bottom of our skies. We applied the blue, wax-like substance to our non-wax skis and took off around the old, overgrown harness racing track, then through the woods down to the river where we ran into this little guy.

He was in our trail but seemed oblivious to us. We all wondered if he was just coming out of hibernation or something because we thought they were nocturnal. Could he possibly be hard of hearing or sight impaired? I looked it up. “Opossums do not hibernate. The winter months will see many opossums change their foraging habits from night to day in order to try to take advantage of the warmer weather during sunlight hours. Their tails are particularly susceptible to frostbite as they have no fur covering to protect them. Neither their eyesight nor their hearing is particularly acute, but they can both see and hear.”

Back inside we were happy to assist Jeff with a presentation of his life-long project, a daily photo of himself, mostly self portraits including scans of slides, prints and multiple iPhoto libraries. It will be sensational when it is officially out of the bag.

Touchstones

March 7th, 2015

1840 white house on Stoney Clover Road in Pittsford New York

We pushed it yesterday and skied down one side of Lake Eastman then across the lake on the ice and back on the other side and then crossed back over again just because we could. Consequently I was late for a doctor’s appointment, an appointment that was scheduled at the same time as JD McPherson’s free show at Record Archive. We headed over there anyway gambling that maybe the show started on rock ‘n roll time but no such luck. Danny Deutsch, who was promoting the show was walking out as we approached the door. Guess “they played their asses off.” We had never heard them but we liked Spevak’s interview with the guy in the Thursday’s paper.

It was nice sunny day so we headed out to Pittsford, just south of Rochester, to track down a short list of Don Hershey homes for Peggi’s website. According to Don’s notebooks there are either three or four Hersheys on Stoney Clover. Stoney Clover Lane is off Stone Road which is off of Clover. I was riding shotgun and shooting photos. We are pretty good at spotting them. Low slung ranches with his mid-century modern touchstones like glass brick, corner windows and most importantly, houses that are ideally situated on their piece of property.

My first photo caught a young woman standing in the window of big, brick, monastery-like house. She came out and told us it was “a little unnerving” to have someone take photos of their house. The houses out here are huge and the lots are all at least an acre. I took the photo above of one that looked like the White House or a southern plantation in snow. I just assumed it was a MacMansion but we looked it up when we got home and discovered it was built in 1840.

Art Decade

March 7th, 2015

Carnegie Building on Goodman Street in Rochester, New York

Our painting class was canceled on Tuesday because of the weather. It was somewhere between snow and rain so the roads were iced over. We were disappointed but a make-up class will be tacked on to the schedule. We already missed another session the night after this building on the old UofR campus burned down. It was being rehabbed and going condo like every other hundred year old building in the city. Our class in the basement of the Cutler Union building is directly downwind of this building so we were literally smoked out.

We ran into Jim and Gail Thomas at an art opening tonight and they were telling us about the time they were living in Medina and the winter came to a quick end and the snow melted so fast that water came rolling down the street and filled their basement. We are headed toward 50 next week so this conversation course was only natural.

We heard Bowie’s “Art Decade” on the way home. What ever happened to him? He had good thing going with Eno in that “Low/Heroes” period.