If God Was A Man

March 5th, 2015

"I Am Legend" New York licence plates on car at the art store in Henrietta

I was happy to see Janet Williams studying my basketball players at last night’s opening. I remember talking to her about the first batch of paintings that I did of these guys. I love Janet’s paintings and couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say about this batch. Her husband, Ted, showed up as we were talking and pulled out a picture of his high school basketball team. He wanted me to find him in the picture. Unlike the six member Mynderse Academy team that I painted Ted’s Brighton High School team had almost twenty players on it. Without thinking I said, “Wow, I’ll bet you never played.” Ted told me they put him in once and and he ran a layup and slammed the ball against the backstop so hard it bounced all the way to the other end of the court. The sports reporter, Bob Mathews, and former County Executive, Bob King, were both on his team. I found Ted in the photo right away. He looked just like one of his sons.

Kathy Krupp brought me a little laminated photo that she found on the ground over by the UofR. About one inch by one inch, a close cropped photo of a man’s head, like something you would see on an id. Bob Martin thought I was one of the ones pictured in the basketball series. Brian Peterson wanted to know all about my source material, the Crimestopper page, now online as a pdf. Most people wanted to talk about who these people were, which one was the homeless girl, that sort of thing. Fred Lipp was there even though he had seen everyone of these pieces in class. If I didn’t do them in class I at least ran them by the master before officially considering them “done.” I would rather talk about the paintings and did so for quite a while with Steve Caswell. He was making a connection between the way I paint and way I play drums. That was a springboard for the whole minimalism as maximalism thing. The importance of each element, what to leave out.

Richard Margolis asked me if he could ask me a business question. I said “no” without missing a beat and he asked anyway. Ken Franks asked me what I thought of the band name, “Sun Rags.” Pete Monicelli, who is on the board at BOA Editions, read us a poem that he wrote in response to a recent book that BOA published, something about if god was a woman. I was thinking a better title would be “If God Was A Man.” There were quite a few artists there but a lot of current and former art teachers there last night. I mean like ten that I can think of now.

I would have been happy to keep the art buzz going all night but a little after 8 Bob started making noise with his guitar. The band did have an engagement last night so with Martha O’Conner’s help we moved the hors d’oeuvres table against the wall and band began playing. Martin Edic came up to me while I was playing and said, “I want you to know. I really love your show.”

A better title for this entry would be “Leftover Vegetables and Hummus.”

Irish Spring

March 5th, 2015

Chipmunk in snow in the backyard

We do groundhogs’ day a month late around here and we do it with chipmunks. This little guy, in our backyard, popped his head up and likes what he sees. He’s predicting St. Patrick’s Day will arrive on schedule, March 17th.

We are headed over to my parents’ apartment to wish my dad a happy birthday. I called to say we were headed over and he invited us down to the bistro where the Special of the Week is “Fried Bologna and Onion Sandwiches.” I have not had one of those since I was kid but I might go for one of those and a vanilla shake.

This Ain’t No Picnic

March 4th, 2015

Paul Dodd "Model From Crime Page" 2015 charcoal on paper

Before I start a drawing or painting I’m always tempted to try a different approach, mainly so I don’t wind up with the same old problems. The drawing can then become chore as I try to recover. My friend, Martin, who comments here often, would tell me to move on to another subject but that is beside the point. I suppose most people would love to be able to just dash off something good, the whole Midas Touch thing, but struggle is big part of the package. “This Ain’t No Picnic” – Minituemen

I get in trouble when I think about approach and I’m usually jolted back to Louise’s father’s advice. “Just put it on the page.”

Margaret Explosion is back at the Little for three months of Wednesdays. We’ll get started a little late tonight, maybe 8 or so because there is an art opening there at 7. I have 15 drawings including then shown above and six paintings on the wall and Sandy is making vegetable hors d’oeuvres.

Nature’s Mistakes

March 3rd, 2015

Peggi skiing in Durand Eastman Park

I started reading Thomas Merton’s first journal. He has seven that were published after his death. Before converting to Catholicism and becoming a Trappist monk he lived a bohemian-style life in downtown New York where he hung around with the early abstract expressionists. His free-flowing thinking, all on the page, feels very contemporary. In a passage about the New York World’s Fair I was thinking, “hey, I was there” but he was referring to the 1939 World’s Fair, not the one in the sixties that I visited with my father. He described an attraction called, “Nature’s Mistakes” where they had animals on display that were misshapen and had missing limbs.

Peggi and I did see a display very much like that at a carnival in Paducah, Kentucky. We were four hours out of Bloomington, Indiana on our way to Mexico. We eventually drove to Oaxaca in Peggi’s orange Vega but this was just our first stop. We had found a campground there and we took in this nearby fair. It got real creepy after dark and this tent with crazy stuff in big bottles of Formaldehyde was the creepiest. I distinctly remember a cow with an extra leg sewn on its backside. This was not “Nature’s Mistake,” it was man’s mistake.

The snow is so deep that the deer have been taking our flattened path through the woods. We found bright red blood in the snow next to each step of one them. I know we scare the shit out of them as we ski by and they sometimes scramble up the hills in the deep snow. They are so much more vulnerable in the white winter months. Coyotes could certainly spot them much easier. I was thinking one of them may have stepped on the edge of a short tree stump buried under the snow and skinned its skinny ankle. The deer are responsible for killing the little trees as they rub the bark off them so it is poetic justice or maybe there is such a thing as nature’s mistakes but I kind of doubt it.

Art Speak

March 1st, 2015

Wayne Higby talk at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

Wayne Higby, a professor at Alfred University since 1973, has a show at the MAG. We hadn’t seen it so we decided to stop in this afternoon, check it out and hear the talk he was giving about the work. We discussed slipping out if we didn’t care for the talk but that would have been difficult because we had front row seats, the only ones remaining.

A couple of people talked about Higby’s work and then they joined Wayne on the stage to discuss prearranged questions. They were all long winded answers, fitting for a long time teacher, so there was only time for one question from the audience. One of the two gentlemen who introduced Wayne spent quite a bit of time on the vocabulary of containment as used in the descriptive names of earthen formations. Rim, bowl, crater, basin, valley, canyon, vessel. All of these fit the structure of Higby’s ceramic pieces. They put up a slide of the Arizona landscape that looked exactly like the motifs that Higby uses in his pieces that look like bowls.

I say “pieces that look like bowls” because Higby is an artist. He says his work is not about the American West but acknowledges that it is influenced by the landscape. And then there was a lengthy discourse on the age old battle of historical bias and snobbery in art vs. craft. If this sounds rather tedious it really wasn’t. It is always fascinating to hear people talk about art. You know it when you see it.

What Now?

February 28th, 2015

Paul Dodd 15 "models From Crime Page" at Little Theater Café 2015 18"x24" charcoal on paper

We set the alarm last night in order to be upright and downtown by 9AM with my paintings and drawings. My last show at the Little Theater Café was 2009 when Pete Monacelli was still hanging the art. I believe that is when we first got to know him and I’m so thankful for that. Pete passed the baton to Kathy Farrell, the director of MCC’s Mercer Art Center, and today was her birthday although we didn’t know it until we got home. I put my six new (the paint was still wet) Basketball Players over the piano and fifteen “Models from Crime Page” (above) on the long wall. Actually one of the charcoal drawings is a local homeless teenager, poor thing was 16, pregnant and homeless when I photographed her, but she fits right in with others.

It was a lot of work getting them finished and framed for the show but I am so happy to have them out of here. My studio is empty at the moment and I have no idea what I am going to work on next, not even an inkling. This is so exhilarating.

Opening for the show is Wednesday, March 4, 7PM. Music by Margaret Explosion.
Show runs February 28 – March 27

Abstract Vocabulary

February 27th, 2015

Standing in the middle of Eastman Lake, Rochester, New York

Lake Ontario is the only one of the Great Lakes with some open water and if the cold continues as expected it too will be frozen over in other week. The lake looks fantastic but don’t look too close. An RIT kid may have fallen off the ice covered Charlotte pier this week and disappeared. Peggi and I skied across Eastman Lake this afternoon, trusting that it was completely frozen over. I took this photo from the middle of the lake.

The best part of Margaret Explosion’s gig at Mercer Gallery was hearing the talk Carole d”Inverno gave at the opening of her amazing show. Carole takes a place (in this case, Rochester) or an event as a starting point. She gathers multiple layers of information about the place, the building blocks of a visual vocabulary and at the breaking point she works from memory creating sketches and then these beautiful paintings.

She says she “is not a non-objective painter.” All the sketching clears a lot of stuff away so when she gets to the painting she doesn’t try to recreate the sketch but tries to stay in the moment using her newly found abstract vocabulary. We had dinner with Carole the following evening and followed up with the “in the moment” part of her delightful process.

Team Faced Tough Competition

February 26th, 2015

Paul Dodd painting "Basketball Player" 1 of 6 2015

I’m not really a basketball fan but I can get sucked in to game if I’m near a tv. My own basketball team was rather hapless so I was really stuck by the page in the 1957 Myndersian Academy yearbook I found at a garage sale. The page pictured six kids, only one for the bench, and the headline read simply, “Team Faced Tough Competition.” I painted the six twenty years ago, threw the paintings away years ago, and painted them again this winter. I plan to have all six hanging on the wall over the piano in my upcoming Little Theater show.

Paul Dodd “Drawings and Paintings”
Little Theater Café
Opening Wednesday 7PM March 4 with live music by Margaret Explosion
Show runs from February 28 – March 27 2015

New Organs

February 25th, 2015

Deer in snow, Winter 2015, Rochester, NY

When we moved out of the city and up near the lake we explored all the nearby woods, heading out in a different direction everyday. In the ten years that we’ve been here we have rarely see any of our neighbors out there. One exception is Steve Greive, a self described “rackaholic.” He both feeds and hunts deer but not in the same spot. When we see him he is just wandering around looking for deer or their discarded racks. He’s even been talking about having a Rack Party this Spring, an event at his house where we have something to eat and then head out in the woods to look for the racks that the male deer grow and drop each year.

Richard H. Goss, the author of “Deer Antlers: Regeneration, Function and Evolution” says, “The process of antler regeneration and the chemical signals involved are incompletely understood. The antlers are used for sexual display and fighting, and sex hormones play a key role, especially in the timing. Light signals from the changing day length are also involved.

Recent article in the Times Science section says, “The annual loss and swift regrowth of antlers in the buck deer is one of the most intriguing phenomena in the mammalian world, and some experts think that studying it may shed light on the possibility of regenerating human organs.”

A Way Of Saying

February 23rd, 2015

Poster for Carole d’Inverno Mercer Gallery art show

If I understand this, Seattle artist, Carole d’Inverno, has new work on display at MCC’s Mercer Gallery that is based on her impressions of Rochester, a city she has never set foot in. This, from her bio; “To prepare for a new series, I extensively research a place, a time period, an event. From the information gathered, I develop an abstract vocabulary of images.” Well, she should be in town today, the coldest day of a frigid winter, her opening is tomorrow night, and I can’t wait to see her take on our fair city.

We are so happy to have been asked to play at Tuesday’s opening for “A Way of Saying”. There’s an artist talk at 4:30 and Margaret Explosion plays 5:30-7. Hope you can stop out and see the show. Here is a preview.

Carole’s husband will not be there. He has a gig in Oxford Mississippi.

From Sunday’s paper:
Seattle artist Carole d’Inverno presents “A Way of Saying,” her abstract pencil works on paper, from Feb. 24 through March 20 at Monroe Community College’s Mercer Gallery, 1000 East Henrietta Road, Brighton. The show features some “intuitive and abstract of the facts” based on d’Inverno’s research into this exotic new city that would be playing host to her work, Rochester. Her artist talk is at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 24, with a reception afterward and music by Rochester’s Margaret Explosion, taking the event further into the avant-garde. She’ll also present a workshop at 10 a.m. Feb. 26 and a lecture 6 p.m. Feb 26. It’s all free, except for the workshop, which will have a charge. Rochesterians may be familiar with d’Inverno’s husband through his work at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the guitarist Bill Frisell. 
-Jeff Spevak, Democrat & Chronicle

Top Of The World

February 23rd, 2015

1939 Don Hershey house at 115 Summit Drive Rochester New York,

I was thrilled to join Peggi Fournier, the webmaster of DonHershey.com, at the open house last Sunday of an early mid-century masterpiece on Summit Drive. Directly across the street from the Art-Deco house where Dick Storms used to live on the dead-end street in front of Pinacle Hill, the place has a gorgeous view of the Genesee Valley nd the Bristol Hills. I popped a few pictures of the rounded corner, second story balcony and then one of the front door when I noticed a note. The open house was canceled due to the extremey cold weather.

So we returned this Sunday and had a marvelous time. The realtor showed us this note from Don to the second owners. The place had all the classic Hershey signatures. Corner windows, floor to ceiling windows strategically placed to center the house, open plan kitchen space, curved walls, built-ins and lots of passive solar.

I hope someone special finds this place.

Log On

February 20th, 2015

Pat Pauley quilt "Mummy Bags Influence" at Axom Gallery in Rochester, NY

Pat Pauley’s quilts are works of art first and only nominally something to snuggle up with. She starts with white fabric and dyes and paints on the cloth while she sews the pieces together. They look fantastic in Axom Gallery. They are big and yet they make the room look bigger. This one would look exceptionally fine on Duane Sherwood’s wall in Brooklyn. I told Pat I love the conga drums and she said, “Thanks, but they are really mummy bags.” Her show runs for a couple more weeks.

We stopped by the opening of Arena art group show at The Williams Gallery tonight but we hardly had a chance to see the work before we were smoked out. It is really a beautiful space but I never noticed the fireplace in there. Someone put a log in it, one of those fake logs that you buy at the grocery store. It filled the room with smoke while some people fooled with the flue and then the thing just burst into flames. They were three feet high and someone was pouring pitchers of water on it. As we raced for the door we saw someone take the big painting off the wall above the fireplace. My suspicion is the log they burned was actually one of those fake plastic logs that are meant for show only.


February 20th, 2015

Ski path through Commons

I moved my painting upstairs to our big south-facing window in order to capture the last few moments of sunlight. Then, as the sun went down, I moved toward the sink to wash my brushes, instinctively trying each light switch I passed. That impulse is almost hard-wired. I was thinking about our friends, Pete and Shelley, living up in the woods with a permanent power outage.

The phone was out too, not because there was any problem with the phone lines, our phones all depend on electricity. And there probably wasn’t any problem with our cable internet connectIon, just that the modem requires electricity. Of course, if we had a cell phone we’d call Rochester Gas & Electric. Ah, but I did purchase a twenty dollar, one gig data plan for my iPad so I went to RG&E’s site and clicked on the “outage” tab. I entered our customer id and and submitted my report. The response read, “There are no power outages reported in your area.”

It was only 5 degrees out. We’re also taking care of our neighbor’s house and I was beginning to panic. We built a fire and I submitted my report again. This time the response read, “We are aware of an electricity outage in your area affecting 917 customer(s). The estimated restoration time is Thursday, February 19 at 7:00 PM.”

You have to wonder about a message like this. The power goes out unexpectantly due to an accident or something and yet they can give you a time for when it will be back up and running? But we put our faith in the power company and went to a movie, the documentary shot in Canadaigua, outside Rochester, where the national Veteran’s Suicide Hotline has received a million calls from current and former soldiers considering or threatening suicide. The neighborhood was all lit up on our return.

Italian Assorted

February 18th, 2015

Original Rubino's on East Ridge Road in Rochester, New York

I have had a craving for Rubino’s for a while now so I emailed my father and suggested we bring some sandwiches over there for lunch. Two “Italian Assorted” and a meatball sub for my mom. No peppers or olives on my father’s Italian assorted. He still pronounces the first “I” in Italian as a long vowel.

My sister had found a tin of Charlie Chips somewhere, something I hadn’t seen in thirty years or so, and my father put those on the table. Peggi looked at the ingredients. Cottonseed oil doesn’t sound too heathy but there was zero cholesterol. We had a tough choice between almond and fig cookies at Rubino’s but we settled on almond. The coffee is bottomless down the hall from their apartment. My dad had two Cokes. This might become a regulat gig.

Transfiguration Ice Sculpture

February 18th, 2015

Icicles on Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road in Rochester, New York

I have lived in Rochester for a long time but I have never seen an icicle as big as this one on the side of the Church of the Transfiguration on Culver Road. It runs from the roof, two stories up, to the ground where it is anchored to the parking lot.

Just like Jerry Ludwig says in his home improvement column, the ice damning in this case is right where an addition was connected to the existing structure without regard to the pitch. They have some serious heat loss going on here, either a cathedral ceiling or just poorly insulated or possibly no vents for draft from the eaves. A little more money in the collection basket will cover the loss.

Minor Miracles

February 17th, 2015

Robin Whiteman sculpture in Rochester Contemporary Makers and Mentor Show

These yearly RoCO “Makers & Mentors” shows provide a great opportunity to witness the clusters of art making going on in this area and to experience the guidance a teacher can provide. Mentors, teaching artists like Robert Marx at Brockport, Kurt Feuerherm at Empire State, Judd Williams at the UofR and now Richard Hirsch from RIT all influence students in their own way. Sometimes the influence is literal and sometimes I can’t see it. I like Robin Whiteman’s hand built ceramic pieces in the current show and I like her teacher’s current work, the big abstract clay surfaces.

Someday the mentor will be Fred Lipp (Creative Workshop / RIT) and in the work you will see the depiction of form in two dimensions. A minor miracle.

Low High

February 16th, 2015

Flower pot in front yard with two feet of snow

How come Boston’s getting all the snow and we only have two feet on the ground? The grass is always whiter.

It was five below zero when we woke up this morning and it is currently an even zero. I think zero is an even number. A local dj said the record high for this day is 51 and the record low is -14 and he offered this, “I’d be curious to know if we broke a record for the low high today.” There is a whole other category of weather stats out there that are being ignored. The high lows and the low oohs for the day.

Off Kilter Angularity

February 14th, 2015

Mike Allen performing at the Clarissa Street Lounge

We heard Jack Schaefer, bass clarinet player with Margaret Explosion and guitar player with Hookface, was playing keyboards with Nod at the Bug Jar on Friday so that went on the calendar. The only question was what time would they go on. They cram so many bands on in one night these days and I think there were four on tap for Friday. We’ve gone out to see Nod before and had to leave before they went on. They certainly didn’t need Jack (I wouldn’t mess with their off-kilter angularity) but it was great to hear him with the band.

My high school classmate, Mike Allen, has been out of commission for a few years now. He called to invite us to a rare gig at the Clarissa Street Lounge, an early gig because, as we found out, the club turns into a dancehall later on. The bar was stocked with Guinness and Red Stripe so I’m guessing it is heavy on reggae. Mike was in good form and the band, mostly Eastman dudes, were real, so-to-be pros.

So, downtown with a void to fill before Nod, we stopped into RoCo and spent some time with the new show. While I was watching a video about Richard Hirsch, the “mentor” in the Makers & Mentors theme, Bleu took Peggi in the office to see if she could fix a coding problem they have been wrestling with, positioning photos in a slider Plug-in on the home page of their WordPress site. No luck there.

We still had a half hour to kill so we stopped in the Little to check out the band in the Café. Hard to believe but it was another Americana band. This stuff is like measles, something you thought was eradicated years ago.

Honest Employment

February 13th, 2015

Two willows trees in Winter at the top of Seneca Lake

We spent the night in Geneva, New York and stopped at the top of Seneca Lake to ski in the park along the northern shore. It was a beautiful day but too cold for most people. On the way to Bellhurst Castle, where we would spend the night, we passed through town and spotted a new micro brewery, Lake Drum Brewing. I like the name and thought it was interesting that they named their place after something other than the the lake they were on. Could there be a connection. I googled “Seneca Lake” when we got to the room and found this wiki passage:

“Seneca Lake is also the site of a strange and currently unexplained phenomenon known as Mistpouffers. In this area, they are called the Seneca Guns, Lake Drums, or Lake Guns. These are mysterious cannon-like booms and shakes that are heard and felt in the surrounding area. The term Lake Guns originated in the short story “Lake Gun” by James Fenimore Cooper in 1851.”

At the hotel, near the first floor men’s room, I took a photo of a 1973 Philadelphia Inquirer article about one of the owner’s of the castle. I OCR’d the text in the photo:

This Gambler Is Rich
Kefauver Foe Lives in Luxury
Here in the Finger Lakes, in the wine regions of upstate New York, the big industries are tourism and wine growing. If you own a food store, you jack up the prices in the summer and spend all winter counting money. If you own a few acres of vineyard land, you’re a prosperous gentleman farmer selling grapes for $360 a ton to the wine companies that line the lakes.

But there was a time when Cornelius J. (Red) Dwyer had a third industry going. On the second floor of his huge, looming castle here on the banks of Seneca Lake, Red Dwyer ran one of the hottest gambling casinos in the east. From Saratoga to New York City, the high rollers would gather together their cash and come here to be separated from it in style ‐ all while Sophie Tucker sang in the corner. It went on for 20 years until Sen. Estes Kefauver called Dwyer before his crime investigating committee and persuaded him to find honest employment.

Dwyer turned the place into a restaurant ‐ a pretty good restaurant – and that’s what Belhurst castle is today.

Now, at 83… Red Dwyer spends his days puttering around his 30 oak-studded acres, luxuriating in splendid retirement. He has parlayed a floating crap game in a New York railroad town into a castle by the lake and in his declining years he can take pride in being one of the most successful gamblers of all time.

“I’m relaxing these days,” he says. But that’s a recent development. Dwyer was born in Lyons, N. Y., son of a dirt-poor Irish railroad family. He quit school at 14 to work as a fireman for five years for the New York Central railroad. But he found gambling more profitable. He opened a pool hall and floating crap game in Lyons and before he was done owned casinos in Miami, Saratoga, French Lick, Ind, and he ran another at Cat Cay, a millionaires’ playground in the Bahamas.

His biggest single score was a $50,000 hit from a newspaperman in Saratoga and he‘s done well enough with cards and dice to buy a new Cadillac every year since 1922. “Some years,” he said, “I’ve had as many as three: When I bought my 50th, the Cadillac people threw me a big party.” Dwyer went broke in the crash of ’29, but he bought his castle four years later with money he made running booze by speedboat into the State from Canada. His only arrest was in 1931 when the Feds nailed him for illegal possession of alcohol. He paid a $10,000 fine.

The castle itself is a monstrous, 26-room affair, ornately, carved on the inside and ivy-covered outside. It was built in 1888 by a family named Harron, direct decedents of Henry Clay of Ohio. Dwyer can’t guess at its current worth.

“It’s irreplaceable,” he says. “You just couldn’t build it again.”

Today the castle is Dwyer’s only holding. He says the politicians forced him out of Saratoga by charging outrageous sums for graft. In Geneva the local pols had less expensive tastes.

“A young man couldn’t make it today the way I made it,” he says. “There’s too much mob control in gambling now. I knew them all in my day but they never bothered me. Why not? Well, I was lucky, I guess.”

Oh Hey

February 12th, 2015

Louis Vuitton store window in New York

Dylan is getting great reviews for his Sinatra release. I bought Peggi a $7.99 download copy for her birthday and we listened to it on the way down to Seneca Lake and then on the way back. I love hearing his voice, the slide guitar and the drummer’s brushes but some of the songs were a stretch the first time around. On second listening we were deliberately staying off the highway because of all the snow. We were traveling about twenty miles an hour on the back roads while huge snowflakes were falling. The album sounded just perfect, every song.

When I was first getting to know Rich I remember asking him what kind of music he liked. He told me something about Broadway musical soundtracks that his parents had in the house. I don’t think this is a Brian Williams kind of memory or anything. I clearly remember thinking, “that’s odd.” Well forty some years later Bar Stool Walker has new cd out. And of course that means new videos to go along with the songs. “Oh Hey Broadway” is a smash.