Asking Questions

April 17th, 2015

Detail of Colleen Buzzard drawing at MCC Mercer Gallery in Rochester, New York

We missed the first half of Colleen Buzzard‘s artist talk at MCC’s Mercer Gallery last week. When we walked in she was talking about infinity. Her drawings take her to interesting places because she is always asking questions. Her “what happens if I …” process takes her there.

She makes lines and then follows them with other lines and they take shape and form often leaving the page. Strings hold cutout drawings in place and three dimensional drawings cling to corners and spring from the floor. It took her two days to hang this show, a measure of the intricacy of her work. The reward is commensurate with the effort.

Underwood Underworld

April 16th, 2015

Witch hazel trees on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

One hundred and fifty years ago a train carrying Lincoln’s body stopped in Rochester on its way to his final resting place in Illinois. Thousands of mourners gathered at the train station to pay their respects. In our age of Clinton and Bush dynasties and ObamaHate the very idea of the presidency has changed. I’m thinking about a train rolling into town with Claire Underwood’s body on it.

The husband and wife team responsible for the House of Cards soundtrack met at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and they are back in town for a free concert of film music on Sunday night at Kodak Hall. They promise a half hour suite of House of Cards themes. He also scored Ed Harris’s dramatic creation/painting scenes in the “Pollock” movie. Jeff Beal’s brilliant theme, used behind the open credits, just sweeps you away with its dramatic subwoofer percussion and dark foreboding melody.

Building Blocks

April 15th, 2015

Four Paul Dodd 6x6 entries for 2015 Rochester Contemporary 6x6 Show

About ten years ago we helped Pete and Shelley put a roof on their new Adirondack home. They were both afraid of heights and probably still are. There was no plywood involved, the roof was sheeted with rough cut cedar boards. I love the look and feel of this stuff and the smell when you cut it and all the cutting was done by hand because they are off the conventional grid. They bought the wood at a local saw mill and I asked them if they could bring me some the next time they came our way. I put the wood in the garage and have not used it until now.

I went out there to pick out a piece to cut into six inch lengths thinking I would do my RoCo 6×6 entries on wood this year. The wood was not as wide as I remembered. My pieces were more like six by five. So I glued two pieces together and cut it down to six by sixes. The seams were clearly visible so I thought maybe I would use them as a horizon line. But what to paint?

I usually wait until the last minute to do these things but I had a day or so to think about it. The wood pieces are a little over an inch think so they are three dimensional. I considered dipping them in the Rustoleum oil paint that we use to paint our metal lawn chairs and horseshoes but I didn’t have time for one color to dry before I dipped the other. I knew I wanted to switch colors at the horizon line because the wood grain changes so radically. I settled on hand painting them with colors straight out of the tube. They remind me of the building blocks we played with as kids.

Peggi’s entries are faces, two of them our friend’s faces, and they look great.


April 14th, 2015

Small lake with ice in Spring, Rochester, New York

There is often a point in the evening when associations get loose and sometimes even free. On Friday night Louise was sitting across from us wearing her brown Luna t-shirt and talking about the end-of-the-working-week sensation. I said something contrary like, “it’s really just another night” and I think she said, “that’s oldsome.” (like a seasoned “awesome”) I may have heard this wrong but I thought it was brilliant. I feel like I am in that sweet spot, just daffy enough to have a sense of well being, not able to clearly hear as well as I used to and easily astonished but not so easily shaken. Oldsome!

Reeding Room

April 14th, 2015

Matt playing bassoon the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester

We used to do brochures for the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester. I’d meet with two women who smoked like chimneys and we’d use clip art of medieval instruments in a two or three color brochure. This was quite a while ago. We’re still around but I don’t think they are.

When Margaret Explosion was doing the Friday Happy Hour gigs in the nineties we’d talk to Steve Brown, one of the three original owners of the Bug Jar, during breaks and he was pretty much out of his element behind the bar. He was working at Merrill Lynch during the day and liked talking money and investments. We had very little of each but as time went on he convinced us to meet with him in the old Lincoln First Tower downtown. I’m so happy now that he prodded us into putting something away. He moved up in the company and passed us off to Todd who is now out at Wells Fargo. Todd arranged an afternoon event at Monroe Country Club where he promised he wouldn’t talk any business so we went along for the ride. It was a beautiful day, a gorgeous setting and the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester performed.

During lunch we were seated with Matt, on the bassoon above, and we learned from his wife that they have a room in their house devoted to making reeds. There is an incredible amount of effort involved in making a bassoon reed and once you get a good one you’re lucky if it lasts a few days.

Margaret Explosion - Floating at the Bug Jar
Margaret Explosion – Floating at the Bug Jar

Celestial City

April 11th, 2015

Ossia performing at Kilbourn Hall on the University of Rochester campus in April 2015

The music students here look a little stiff. They are sometimes awkward but most often confident and professional. They are so much fun watch as they scurry about, setting up for the next piece, then tuning and snapping into performance mode. Ossia, the Eastman student-run group dedicated to performing work by contemporary composers, put on their last show of the year, a program called “Colors of the Celestial City” (sounds like a Sun Ra title) and it was an especially good one.

Contemporary can mean almost anything but it is mostly defined by what it is not, European classical. Their previous show integrated programed music played through a sound system into the various performances. I could do without that. The students have access to every instrument imaginable. They are unbelievable performers and their theatre, Kilbourn Hall, guarantees the instruments will sound their best. Computer generated sounds coming through the PA just doesn’t sound as good in this setting.

After the first two pieces, a guy in the small group sitting near us said, “That first piece was avant garde but that second piece, I’ve never heard anything like that.” So the avant guard is now quantifiable, limited. This is contemporary music. Our favorite piece of the night, George Benjamin’s “Octet (1978)”, was something that reminded us of the dreamy soundtrack to Altmans “Three Women.”


April 9th, 2015

Low Rider on East Ridge Road in Rochester, New York

Our yellow Winter Aconite flowers are more bountiful than ever his year. They were stuck under the snow and about a month late but they are wide open today. They don’t last long like that. They prefer the old weather and is in the sixties today. The low riders and motorcycles are out. Our neighbor’s main water line is still frozen so it’s probably too early to turn on the water to the outdoor faucets. They went out of town for a bit and their water line froze. They have a garden hose connected to the house next door. I threw the last of the snow on our patio out into the yard and got the lawn chairs out of the garage. I’m ready for horseshoes.

Bleak But Beautiful

April 8th, 2015

Staub's Cleaners on East Main Street in Rochester NY 1994

Batch processing a folder of photos and throwing them into Apple’s Keynote and then exporting the whole thing to html is so much easier than creating individual web pages. But of course there are all sorts of drawbacks. Like how do you link to a particular page or photo and how do you write tags for the pages so a search engine could find them?

These photos were taken in 1994 with a film camera when I was just beginning to develop an idea for a contemporary setting of the Stations of the Cross (the Passion Play or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis), an idea that is still in the developmental stage twenty years down the road. We lived across from East High at the time and we’d head downtown on this route most days. While I was taking the photo of East High a security guard came out and told me “You can’t photograph the school.” East High became a perfect location for Jesus to get sentenced and I pictured him crucified at the Liberty Pole. The route looks rather bleak but it is quite beautiful. The photos were really just location shots for possible staging of a particular station but I found them interesting to look back on especially because so many of these places are gone.

East High School, Carroll’s Bar and McDonalds are all there. Mooneys (formerly Effingers) and Fams Party House are still standing but the businesses have left. El Palladium and Jimmy’s Short Orders have both been knocked down for a monstrous new Regional Transit Bus Terminal. Volunteers of America, Fatboys, Chase Bank, Tucker Printers, the Adult Book Store and Otis Lumber are still there but have changed hands. The Armory Building has actually come back to life as a venue. Corpus Christi Church, Staub’s Cleaners, the Penguin Restaurant and Hedges Funeral Home are still there but are empty or repurposed. WDKX is not going anywhere. Kentucky Fried Chicken is an Asian place. Richmond’s and the Chinese place are still there with new owners. Cathay Pagoda and the Tea House Art Gallery, Snuffy’s Birdland and McCurdys are gone. The Liberty Pole is still standing.

And the Inner Loop is being filled in. Chuck Cuminale, who would lead the Colorblind James crowd in “Death To The Inner Loop chants, would be elated.

In Between

April 7th, 2015

Willow tree on Hoffman Road in Spring snow

We spotted out first Red Wing Blackbirds today hearing their distinctive call before we zeroed in on them. And I found my first golf ball as we cut through the park The X-Country ski email says they are still getting fresh powder at Harriet Hollister and the conditions are excellent. I love this feeling of suspension that we sometimes get between the the two seasons. Much better than the abrupt transformation to flip flops and shorts.

I got a kick out of the Easter Sunday soft news piece about the Talpiot Tombs discovered outside of Jerusalem in the eighties. Assumed to have belonged to a wealthy Jewish family they were inscribed with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, common names at the turn of the century. The widely disputed findings are being pointed to the “Jesus family plot” but hold on. Would this be proof that he didn’t rise from the dead?

Rent Me (409) 684-3131

April 5th, 2015

John Ganis photo from "America's Endangered Coastline" show at Spectrum Gallery in Rochester, New York

Someone associated with the photographer, John Ganis, started talking to us about the concept behind the photos before we had even had a chance to look at them. That and running into people you know are some of the hazards of going to an opening on First Friday. Gains documents coastal areas that have already been affected by rising sea levels and records the locations with GPS coordinates and elevations. “Ocean Front Paradise” Rental, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas N 29.53893 W 94.41699 (shown above) is only 5 feet above sea level. This place looks like a double-wide up on stilts. Ganis’s photos are beautiful and we had a good time looking at them without the sales pitch.

It was great to see so many bikes out in front of RoCo, I guess it was free admission if you came on a bike, and then a whole show devoted to the bicycle. Someone told us Rochester was voted the most bike friendly city a hundred years ago. Don’t know if that fact was presented in the show or made up. We’ll have to come back to in this show.

Warren Philips was taking his “OPEN” flag down by the time we found a parking space at the Hungerford building so we just squeezed in. Warren has great taste and always has a nice show, this time lovely watercolors by Mary Orwen. Some friends were raiding the bowl of peppermint patties that he keeps in the back room and someone asked how he keeps from eating them all himself. He said, “I try to limit myself to one peppermint patty a day. Unless I’m feeling sorry for myself. Then I’ll have four or five.”

Passion Play Redux

April 3rd, 2015

"Passion Play" 1998 by Paul Dodd, notebook assemblages for stations of the cross

Years ago, on this day, my parents tried to get us to sit in silence on a day off from school between the hours of noon and three. These were the hours Christ hung on the cross and this was the culmination of Lent. This year we helped my father file his taxes via TurboTax while my mother watched “Guys & Dolls.”

In 1998 I filled a notebook with bits and pieces of news clippings, sketches and nearly disjointed thoughts on a modern day retelling of the Passion Play set in my city neighborhood, all in preparation for paintings of the fourteen stations of the cross. I created large assembleges in Photoshop and printed the series at Scale 2 on St. Paul Street. I still haven’t done the paintings, there are so many approaches. I’m still sort of collecting references and each Good Friday I look at the paper for a Christian related story. The Ted Kaczynski in full-on crucifixion mode picture was on the front page of the old Times Union. In today’s paper there was a story about the Somali rebels going door to door in Kenya sparing Muslims and killing Christians. I entered the prints in the Finger Lakes Show and won the Harris Popular Award. They are kind of fun to look back on.

The original files for my Passion Play prints are so old they wouldn’t display properly. I had to take them into Photoshop, copy the layer and paste it into a new document and then save them out as tiff. Formats do not stay the same.

Something Else

April 2nd, 2015

Secret Keeper with Mary Halverson and Stephan Crump at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

We made sure we had seats down front for Stephan Crump when he played with Vjay Iyer at Kilburn last year. We had heard him with his Rosetta Trio at the Bop Shop and were blown away. He is an amazing bass player. Incredibly sensitive, melodic and solid. He would sound great with anyone. As you can see in this picture he plays every inch of his instrument. In this duo setting, a project called “Secret Keepers,” he and Mary Halverson would start and finish each other’s phrases, odd phrases in odd songs because Mary Halverson is a most unusual guitar player. Seated and working one pedal with each foot she would clip and chew on notes as she picked them. She says her influences are horn players, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, artists she first heard on her dad’s records. This was something else.

Hick Town*

April 1st, 2015

Stones, cops and crowd at Rochester War Memorial 1965

I liked “Rubber Soul” but I loved “Out Of Our Heads.” One blew away the other and the partisan divide began for me.

Rolling Stones incite near-riot in ’65

When the curtain went up the night of Nov. 1, 1965, there were 120 officers, War Memorial security, and ushers — the largest such show of crowd-control force in the venue’s history — ready to keep the crowd under control. Maybe they needed a few more. That Rochester show before an estimated crowd of 4,000 was perhaps the shortest Rolling Stones concert of all time, shut down by police slightly after 9 p.m. after only six songs. It was only their second-ever tour of the United States, in support of the album Out of Our Heads.

“The ones down front — particularly the girls — caused most of the trouble,” Rochester Police Chief William Lombard was quoted in the Times-Union. “They really started to get worked up when one Rolling Stone took off his jacket.” But what actually shut down the show was the promise — and the threat — of even more skin. “I knew when this one fellow took off his jacket and waved it at the girls while wiggling around that the next number would be the last,” Lombard said. “That’s the one where he strips to his undershirt.” The story did not indicate which of the British Invasion louts Lombard was referring to. One can only wonder if the police chief in hindsight regretted that move, as audience members reportedly threw popcorn, candy boxes, shoes and other items at the stage and chanted “We want the Stones!” Detective Lt. Andrew J. Sparacino was hit in the left eye and was taken to Genesee Hospital. As the Times-Union reported, “Lombard said he thought someone swung a bag of caramels at Sparacino.” And the photo accompanying the T-U story shows a glum looking Sparacino with a patch over one eye. Years later, he told a reporter he remembered talking to Stones lead vocalist Mick Jagger about being careful because of the crowd and the rock and roller responding “with some of the foulest language I’ve ever heard.”

Sparacino wasn’t the only victim of the night’s wildness. One 16-year-old Rochester fan was taken to Highland Hospital with a leg injury. And police removed “several youths” from the building for disorderly conduct. Who’s to blame? Lombard told media the crowd was noisy but for the most part civilized. “I appealed to them once to help them enjoy the show,” he was quoted as saying. “But when some of them really started to get worked up and began charging the stage, I thought someone would get hurt.”

After the show, guitarist and backing vocalist Keith Richards reportedly trash talked Rochester to the police, saying “This is a hick town. They were twice as wild in Montreal. They won’t get hurt. You were too hard with them.” The Rolling Stones reportedly flew out of town that night, presumably on their way to Providence, Rhode Island, and the next stop on their tour.

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.


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.