Rewater The Erie Canal Downtown

August 30th, 2015

My helmet and bike

I never thought we’d find another mechanic as good Ted was over at Jerome’s on Atlantic Boulevard but the guys over at B&B Auto on Saint Paul Boulevard are great. We rode our bikes over there to pickup our car and then continued downtown to the main library with the bikes in the back. We checked out art space in the lower level of the library, my basketball players are going up there next week, and we hopped on the bike trail that runs south along the river.

They’ve cleaned up the homeless area under the Freddy-Sue bridge, mostly by fencing it off, but there was still a row of tents. The multi-colored apartments that line the river looked pretty cozy and the UofR campus with the carloads of freshmen unpacking looked absolutely dreamy. Those long skinny crew boats were racing up and down the river and large gatherings of people, some looked like church groups, were cooking out in Genesee Valley Park. We rolled on to the intersection of the Erie Canal and the Genesee and hung out on one of those old arched concrete bridges that appear in so many of my father’s paintings.

We crossed the river there on a pedestrian bridge and rolled back in to town along the West Bank of the river. The area along Exchange has really come back and it was easy to see the synergy that Patrick Burke, a business columnist for the local paper was talking about in his recent piece “Copenhagen’s Lessons for Rochester

Twenty years ago Chuck Cuminale was chanting, “Death to the Inner Loop” at his Colorblind James shows and that is now a reality. Let’s rewater the Erie Canal downtown!

Flash Mob

August 29th, 2015

Sidney Laroux autographs ball before WNY Flash game vs. Chicago Red Stars

We got to the game especially early tonight. We are usually there early enough to see the practice rounds but tonight Sidney Laroux was signing autographs so we got there before six. The scene was something akin to the English invasion with all the high pitched screaming. Sidney opted to have surgery on her foot after the World Cup and is out for the season so the Flash put her to work with the pen. The nuns in my grade school would not have tolerated her grip but penmanship is so over.

The Flash lost again. Peggi says, “They fought valently.” They played really well, quick passes and great ball movement but they can not put that final piece together.

Christen Press, center forward for the Chicago Red Stars and the national team’s scoring hope for the near future got a well deserved unassisted goal and then assisted on their second. I cheered for both goals. It was a great game. Their last game of the season is On Friday night. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Ouch To The Condo

August 28th, 2015

Beauford Delaney's "Charlie Parker" 1968 at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

My mother was always rearranging the furniture in our house, sometimes even swapping the functions of the rooms. I remember her taking the dining room table out of the dining room. She has a great eye and her rearrangements often invigorated our home. Sometimes they just didn’t work but they still managed to liven up the place.

The MAG, under the direction of its new steward, Jonathan Binstock, has rearranged its collection while calling attention to some great new acquisitions. I especially like the Beaufort Delaney “Charlie Parker” portrait shown above. And the new Mickalene Thomas portrait, “Qusuquzah” almost steals the show in the new portrait gallery (just beyond the admission desk). Her spacial, almost cubist play with the figure’s head is sensational. Walt Kuhn’s “Clown” is still more compelling. Robert Lee MacCameron “New Orleans Man” looks great and it is nice to see the Pieter Jansz Pourbus’ “Portraits of a Husband and Wife” out again. They were missing in action for a few years

The cluster of portraits doesn’t really work for me though. I’d rather engage with them one on one. They would be better in that long hallway on the side of the auditorium where that flowery mural over the fake fireplace is. It’s a good thing they don’t let me loose in that place. The 1935 Calder “Standing Mobile” looks great. Can’t imagine where that has been hiding. And they have a little trove of Gaston LaChaise statuettes. I wish they had one of his more expressive pieces. “Ouch” to the Condo and the polka dot lady!

Jacob Lawrence’s “The Legend of John Brown” portfolio of silkscreen prints looks fantastic in the newly painted Lockhart Gallery. And they have removed the center island in that room so can really take in the graphic intensity. You have to get over there to see that.

8o’s Polaroids

August 26th, 2015

Bob Martin, Peggi Fournier and Bernie Heveron backstage at the Peppermint Lounge in NYC 1983

My computer time for the last two days has been devoted to feeding the beast of Facebook. I went to the Personal Effects Facebook page for some reason and discovered a broken link to the real Personal Effects website, not a broken one but one that never would have worked. And I had just come across about a hundred scans of Polaroids from the eighties, ones that I originally submitted to the Scorgie’s web site when we did that reunion. That site went down so I posted the Polaroids to Facebook, the perfect depository for such artifacts.

I took the one at top just as we were about to take the stage at the Peppermint Lounge in 1983. We played that place a few times but this was the first time, in their old location, and it was on Bernie’s birthday. Bernie had Tony Levin’s number in New York and he invited him to the gig. He was right down front when we played. He told us he “liked the act.” Bernie is wearing my shirt in this photo. We used to trade clothing because we were the same “build” as they say.

There’s two batches of Polaroids on Facebook. Part One. Part Two.

(Click on the thumbnail below to view slideshow)

My Mom Is Hardcore

August 23rd, 2015

My mom with me in her arms, 1950

Once my grandfather retired, well into his eighties, he would hold court from a green chair in my grandparents’s living room. Near the end of his life he was pretty much living in the living room. I remember helping him to the bathroom and then helping him get up off the toilet. At the very the end he was just lying in a bed in the middle of the living room, groaning in pain. I asked my mother, “Isn’t there anything they can do to help him?” She said, “He’s dying” and she said it a way that struck me as “He’s dying, you idiot.” My mom was hard core. And she made it clear that dying at home was the way to go. She said she hoped she would be able to do the same thing.

Well, you are hardly ever as lucid as my mom was when you get to that late stage. Today, she asked point blank. “Paul, what is going to happen to me?” I laughed and said “No one knows what’s going to happen to anyone. We could leave here on our bikes and get run over. No one knows what’s going to happen to them.” Sort of a cop-out on my part and not exactly what she wanted to hear but the best I could do on the spot.

She is not happy now. Her legs bother her. She sleeps to escape her uncomfortableness and she told me she feels as though this is happening because of something that she did. “I feel as though I did something wrong.” I told her she did nothing wrong. “This is what happens in old age. People don’t live forever.” There was a picture of my grandparents, her parents, near where we were sitting and I handed it to her. She studied it for a bit and I said, “Your mom and dad are gone. They died. No one lives forever. That’s life.”

She worries about everything and the best I can do is to. say, “Just don’t worry about it.” I wish I was as hard core as my mom.

Endless Summer

August 21st, 2015

Group of bathers at Durand Eastman beach in Rochester, New York

We are working on this concept and we need a little help to pull it off.

Trademarking The Cube

August 20th, 2015

David Liittschwager "The World in One Cubic Foot" lecture at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York

Seneca Park Zoo and the George Eastman House joined forces to bring photographer David Liittschwager to Rochester to photograph and catalog the the contents of one cubic foot of the Genesee River ecosystem. Liittschwager dropped his cube about one hundred and fifty yards south of Rattlesnake Point across from Turning Point near the mouth of the Genesee and gave a lecture tonight at the Dryden Theater. He showed amazing photos of microorganisms that were taken just this afternoon and time-lapse video footage with Great Blue Herons standing near the cube. Rochester Contemporary plans to have a show of his Genesee River photos in February.

In the bathroom after the lecture everyone was complaining about how they were unable to hear the talk. We were in the front row of the packed theater and I thought it was just us. Judging by the voracity of the complaints I’m really surprised someone didn’t speak up. The visuals were stunning.

After the talk Roy Sowers gave me some fresh Sunflower stalk paper that he made. He had me smell it. It smelled like a barn. I asked where he works and he said, “the Center.” And then I heard part of the story about the a lawsuit over the Center’s new logo. I say part of the story because I don’t know any of the facts here but I am interested in these sort of issues.

The Center had called itself “The Genesee Center for the Arts and Education.” More than a mouthful. They changed their name to “The Rochester Arts Center.” Rochester Contemporary has been using “Arts Center” after their name for a long time. They may have usage rights to “Rochester Contemporary Arts Center” for all I know. Peggi and I did their logo when they changed the name from Pyramid and then it was just Rochester Contemporary in the logo. So, if I have this right, The Rochester Arts Center steals three of the four words in Rochester Contemporary Arts Center, effectively one upping Rochester Contemporary and making RoCo look like an affiliate or subsidiary of The Rochester Arts Center. We have friends in both organizations but it sounds like cease and desist or lawyer-up time to me.

34 Wives & 52 Men

August 20th, 2015

Beautiful Durand Eastman Beach in Rochester, New York

Leslie Peterson, a Utah artist who took her first art class three years ago, painted all 34 wives of the Mormon founder, Joseph Smith as part of her “Forgotten Wives Project.” It is presumed that each of these 34 women married him because they felt they were doing the Lord’s will. I think some priests mined that same territory. Working from photos and imagination Peterson gives shape to these women and tells a big story.

Louise Wareham Leonard’s book, “52 Men” succinctly details her relationships with a larger number. Of course some of these are closer to encounters but who’s counting? The stories unfold crisply in fast motion and move in surprising directions. They are tragic and often funny. They add up in mysterious ways.

In Number 26 John’s second wife, who he describes as a performance artist, sends him videos of herself dancing naked in a giant barn. The book’s lead character sees the video and tells John, “That’s not performance art. That’s her sending videos of herself naked and talking to you.”

Part 2 of “52 Men” provides some context to the mystery but it may never be solved.

Big Ditch Well

August 17th, 2015

Mark Cuminale playing with Big Ditch at the Firehouse Saloon in Rochester, New York

When a hawk flies low over your head it gets your attention. When one flies overhead with a whole squirrel in it’s mouth it is startling.

Someone has been eating the jalepeños in the garden. First it was just the fruit and then it was whole plants. Red peppers were missing too and yesterday every last eggplant was gone. We had been baiting our Hav-a-heart trap with apple pieces and the chipmunks were getting them. Even if they set the trap off they are small enough to escape. We had trouble earlier this year with our cilantro. We got lucky last night and we caught the varmint, a docile woodchuck. I felt sorry for him. Animal control came and took him away. I hope he’s happy where ever it is that they dropped him off.

It strikes me that these two vignettes are the well that “Big Ditch” goes to for their material. “Dry Cow Blues,” “Chicken Legs,” “Crooked Creek,” “Stump Grinder,” “Log Jam,” and “Cold, Cold Ground.” They launched a fantastic new cd on Saturday night at the Firehouse Saloon. This place looks like a sports bar from the road but the back room is a pretty damn good facsimile of a rock n’ roll club. Big Ditch sounded great in here. I recorded my favorite song.

Taking The Bait

August 16th, 2015

Water slide at Sea Breeze Amusement Park in Rochester, New York

It takes us twenty-five minutes to walk to the lake but on hot days we can hear the cigarette boats on the lake from our house. Those things are loud, even at slow speed. We rode bikes down to the bay outlet this morning and watched the boats go in and out of the channel. I never noticed that boats have the steering wheel on the right side. Were they a British invention?

We’re taking care of two cats on our street. Well, three, counting our own, and they are all in different houses. A couple of neighbors are away while we take our summer vacation here. Rick called me from Maine this morning to say he had bought some bait – worms and crabs – that he was going to bring with him but he left them in his refrigerator. He suggested we dump the crabs in the creek when we take our walk. I put them in my bike basket and we gave them to a couple of fisherman down at the bay. They looked like members of ZZ top and were very appreciative.

We watched the US Women’s soccer team play their first game since the World Cup. Heather O’Reilly scored a fantastic goal in the fourth minute and picked up another later in the game. The coach has to narrow the roster to 18 for the Olympics and we’re pulling for Heather.

Title Nine

August 15th, 2015

Charlotte Beach in Rochester, New York through trees

Summertime and the living’ is hectic. There were only three people in Jeffrey’s outdoor, 9:30am, all levels, $15, hour and half, yoga class this morning at the Rochester Yacht Club. Almost like being one of his “clients.” That’s what he calls students when they meet one on one with him. There is just so much stuff going on in the summer months here, every fair weather activity packed into a small window. This is why we welcome winter. We’re just worn out and we need a little space to get some work done.

After class we are in the habit of picking up a medium-sized iced Latte from Sips in Stutson Plaza or whatever they call that place these days. But today we put that off and crossed the river to check out the “Lake Guardian,” a big Environmental Protection Agency ship that was docked at Charlotte pier. Of course we had to walk over to the hundred year old merry-go-round to check out the controversial racist art. And we walked along the beach, which was closed, but packed with people playing all sorts of organized sports in the sand. We watched a little bit of men’s and women”s volleyball, women’s pole vaulting and men’s and women’s rugby. There’s some photos of these events on my home page. And of course there’s the big bike race through the streets of downtown Rochester tonight.

Once Chicas

August 14th, 2015

Tie up on dock at Turning Point Park in Rochester, New York

Not sure what you call these tie-up posts that are bolted to the round concrete piers in the mouth of the Genesee river. I’m sure there is a nautical term for it but I prefer to see it as an abstract sculpture. The city has turned the former wide-water, turn-around area (for big ships that came off Lake Ontario and into the Port of Rochester) into Turning Point Park. It has been around long enough for some of the boards on the boardwalk to need replacing. We rode our bikes over there today and road along the west bank of the river up to near Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. We ran into an former student of Peggi’s and she proceeded to tell us a story in Spanish about visiting Peru with eleven other girls.” This park is really beautiful. A hidden gem.

We went over there to see if we could see any signs of the National Geographic photographer, David Liittschwager, who is conducting one of his magic cube experiments in conjunction with Seneca Park Zoo and the George Eastman House. We spotted a new ladder and a flag on the other side of the river. Maybe that is where his cubic foot is stationed.

Book Launch

August 13th, 2015

Peggi, Paul, Louise and Matthew in the arboretum at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

On Saturday Louise Wareham Leonard’s “52 Men” will officially be available at Amazon and finer bookshops everywhere. Unofficially, we received a hand delivered copy from the author yesterday afternoon. We were just getting out of our car at Aman’s Farm Market, about to buy some fresh corn, when Louise approached us with a loose wrapped surprise.

We bought some ginger beer in Aman’s and headed over to Louise’s place to toast to the book and quickly got into a discussion about whether writers could have a relationship with other writers, artists with other artists and I was thinking it should be possible but I didn’t say so. I think Louise had her doubts whether anyone could have a relationship with either. Louise asked the group if they could channel any artist or writer who it would be. I was considering Philip Guston and trying to play that one out when the topic changed. Louise asked what we did today and we were able to address part of that inquiry. Peggi said we took a walk in the woods. And we went swimming. I really couldn’t remember what we did. I scanned a bunch of old photos that my aunt gave me. I posted something silly on my blog. I played drums while Peggi went to yoga but did I do any work? Thought provoking question and inspiring. I will have a better answer next time.

Peggi would have finished the book in one sitting if we didn’t have to leave the house near midnight to see the Perseid meteor shower. We drove to the beach and were surprised to see the parking lot full. The orange glow from the sodium-vapor lamp along Lakeshore Boulevard sort of impinged on the darkness but the atmosphere was just right. We had a hunch it might be even better above the pool on our street so we headed over there and saw a spectacular display.

Peggi says the book is great! I’ll get my hands on it tomorrow.

RIP Countrypolitan

August 12th, 2015

Official Sparky promo photo

I was saddened to hear that Billy Sherill died. He produced and co-wrote some of my favorite country music, big hits for Tammy Wynette and George Jones, in a lush musical style that became known as “Countrypolitan.”

Speaking of country, our old neighbor, Sparky, stopped by to see us over the weekend. We weren’t home so he left a note instructing us to “have a nice day.” I had been thinking about Sparky because Bob Mahoney just sent us a photo of himself, beaming and standing in front of a life size Sparky painting that I did years ago. It was one in a series that were shown in Godiva’s windows, this one with type on it that read, “Might Just Side The Bastard,” a quote of Sparky’s from a conversation I had with him about his garage. The painting is still hanging in a bar on Monroe Avenue.

Don’t Touch Me
He Stopped Loving Her Today

Under Eye Wrinkles

August 11th, 2015

Jared's waterfall and pond at sunset

My blog was recently overrun with spam. I had over 600 comments in one day, ones that I “mark as spam” to train the server not to accept from that IP address again. There was a hole in my spam plug-in and I couldn’t update it because I was unable to back-up the blog up because I had reached some sort of limit on the server. Well we took care of business today. Peggi updated her site as well and I’m now running the latest WordPress version. Still have the ancient, original, default theme but I am up to date with the software. Like the scene in “Spinal Tap” when David St. Hubbins tunes his guitar, shoves it aside and exclaims, “I’m in.”

My favorite spam comment read, “Go here for the best under eye wrinkles.”

A Family Adventure

August 11th, 2015

Gold Skylark on Avondale Street in Rochester, New York

We had my parents over for dinner last night. I cooked out in the rain, pulling that off by keeping the Weber real close to the house. I grilled eggplant from our garden. After dinner we ate ice cream out on the porch and listened to the rain. Our neighbor, Jared, told us today that we had an inch and three quarters of rain.

Our driveway is a little tricky at night so we walked my parents out to their car. It is a new car so it has a camera for seeing behind the car. We watched as my dad tried to clear the windshield and after a few minutes he asked us to get in. We sat in the back and tried to help him with the controls. The air conditioning was on because it was warm, the fan was on full blast and the icon for the windshield was lit up. We tried raising the temperature setting and then lowering it but nothing worked. My father gave the manual to Peggi and she skimmed through it while I went in to get my iPad. We were both scrambling to find a solution while my father was wiping the windshield with the towel. My mother asked if we could give her a ride home and then wondered aloud if their car was running. One twist of the key and the fog cleared in seconds.

Modern Bachata

August 9th, 2015

Cynipid Gall Wasp on underside of a leaf found in our cilantro patch

I’ve been popping on Apple’s Beats 1 international radio program for a few weeks now. I can usually get a good twenty minutes out of it before that Zane guy plays something unbearably auto-tuned. This Halsey has an anthem on her hands and I heard something by Dr. Dre’s that I really liked but I can’t find my way back to it. After stumbling over the 3 Month free Apple Music come-on I finally pulled the trigger. This afternoon we listened to a playlist of “modern bachata.” It’s a great time to be alive.

We are the new Americana,
High on legal marijuana,
Raised on Biggie and Nirvana,
We are the new Americana.

You On A Diet

August 8th, 2015

Garage sale books on the lawn

We rode our bikes over to my parents’ apartment to celebrate my mother’s 88th birthday. We were a little late, as usual, but had to check out this yard sale. These books were displayed on the lawn outside the garage. “Desserts for Diabetics,” “Controlling Your Fat Tooth,” T.D. Jakes “The Lady, Her Lover & the Lord” with the enticing subtitle, “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” “Are You Rapture Ready.”

I know you can’t read the title on the video cassette. It is labeled “Groomadog Videos Inc. Present The Poodles.” In fact there was a scraggly little white dog yapping behind an aluminum screen door. The owner came out of the house and stood behind a table in her garage, one with the most mundane articles imaginable neatly arranged on it. Two blond wigs were perched on styrofoam heads, a 3D picture of Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and dime store frames with the original package pictures under the glass. We were speechless.

Constant Questioning

August 7th, 2015

Model from Crime Page 2015 oil on board by Paul Dodd

I was working on this painting when Fred Lipp died. Is it done? I will never know for sure. Anyone who knew Fred will never forget him. And that is the only consolation we have in his absence. We cling to the concepts he taught us and we won’t let go. In fact, it is our duty to build on those truths through constant questioning.

A “call for art made under Fred’s guidance” has been issued by the Creative Workshop. From their statement: They are looking for artwork made in Creative Workshop classes, individual studios, or at RIT with help from Fred. These artworks will be displayed as we remember a great mentor and exceptional teacher. In his years of teaching, Fred would push his students to make ever better work. This exhibit will be on view in the Lucy Burne Gallery from Thursday, October 15 – Tuesday, November 10 2015. They also plan to celebrate Fredʼs spirit at a public reception on Thursday October 29, 2015 from 5:30 to 9 pm.

Please direct questions to Rachael Baldanza at 585- 276-8956.


August 6th, 2015

Detail of dumpster in Madrid  from Paul Dodd "Dumpster" project 2013-present

In England they’re “wheelie bins” or “skips.” Here in the U.S. Peggi knows exactly what I’m talking about when we’re driving down the road and I say “dumpster!” It means we’ll be turning the car around and checking out a dumpster that had just whizzed by. Not all dumpsters are worth a second look and not all dumpsters are situated in an environment that is suitable for a photo. But I’ve found sixty that I like.

Check them out if you like.