October 18th, 2017

Boat, dressed Shriners for a gig at Snake Sisters (now Lux) for a Halloween gig in the late eighties.

Kool & The Gang did a Spanish language version of their song, “Celebration.” It is the first thing i think of when I hear the word, “celebrate.” Phil Marshall is not even 24 hours into his 60th year on Planet Earth and we plan to celebrate tonight at the Little Theatre Café. Although this is only Phil’s third official gig with Margaret Explosion, he played guitar on two tracks of our 2002 cd “Happy Hour.” A link to “Three Chins,” an outtake from that project, is included here. Phil also played guitar with us (along with Bob Martin) in Boat, a late eighties party band. We’re shown here below on Halloween at Snake Sister’s Café, now “Lux” in the South Wedge. Phil is conspicuously not wearing the Shriner nose piece.

Margaret Explosion - Three Chins

Margaret Explosion – Three Chins

My Family?

October 17th, 2017

Pick-up truck with bumper stickers near Park

We occasionally see this pick-up sitting near the entrance to the park. He is probably out there walking a dog, we’ve never seen anyone getting in or out of the truck. Don’t know if anyone has seen “The Meyerowitz Stories” yet but there is a hilarious scene in there where the brothers, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler, try to beat the shit out of a car with sticks and stones. It is not that easy. Anyway, I thought of that scene when I saw this truck.

Elizabeth Marvel plays their sister, Jean. Her character works at Xerox and lives in Rochester. Dean & Britta do some of the music. Dean’s sister lives in Rochester.

Death to the Inner Loop

October 15th, 2017

Cat equipment on top of a pile in the middle of the old Inner Loop in Rochester, New York

I am still struck by this sight. What was once a wild idea, the movement took hold at the highest levels of city government and they filled half of the damn thing in. The moat that once surrounded the city suffocated the city. Just an idea and now a reality. “Death to the Inner Loop.” If only we could undo all the other urban renewal projects.


October 14th, 2017

Budweiser football display at Wegmans on East Ridge Road

There’s a big difference between American football and the European sport but I don’t want to sound snotty. My namesake is or was England’s Number One Football Hooligan. The sport has more than its share of louts. We watched a string of matches as the US Mens team played their way right out of the World Cup qualifying North, Central America and Caribbean conference. It was getting increasingly hard to root for them so it is probably for the best that they lost to Trinidad and Tobago and will sit out the World Cup in Russia next year. The team needs to get it together, kind of like the country needs to suffer through Trump to get itself on the right course.

Tonight the North Carolina Courage of the Women’s National Soccer League play the Portland Thorns in Orlando. The Courage is our team. They were the Western New York Flash up until last season when the franchise moved south. I plan to climb up in this chair and scream at the tv.


October 13th, 2017

White dog with solar lights in Durand Street in Rochester, New York

We’re going to have to stop back and see this white dog under the solar lights.

Our friend, Kathy, made some pillows for us. She made our last batch too but they have all gone soft, like you pick them up and wonder what the heck is inside of these. She is a decorator and that word is not descriptive enough. She brings an artist’s eye to her craft. She is frugal for starters and has a stash of fabric to rival Fabrics and Findings. She mixes and matches them with ease and the results are delightful.

She stopped by this morning with our new batch and she unveiled them one at a time. Each is a knockout. Invisible zippers, the front and back of some fabrics both used to effect and with piping from yet another fabric, designs arranged to create new designs and pick up on elements in our minimal decor. She made four for our grey couch and said she wanted to make more but she said she kept hearing my voice saying, “We only have one couch.” That and the chair my brother, John, made for us and the stump that Pete and Shelley gave us. We need to have a party.

Early Bird Special

October 12th, 2017

HillsideI in Gannett Hill Park

Frank Gannett grew Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle into USA Today and the whole Gannett chain. He also owned property on this hillside near what is now Gannett Hill Park at the bottom of Canandaigua Lake, just north of village of Naples. We hiked the orange trail there this afternoon in a loop that just under four miles, enough to get us out of cellular range. We went down there for the color and just get out of town for a bit.

They are usually way ahead of us. The big lake moderates our weather and stretches out the Fall but they were nowhere near peak. I made salsa before we left and we ate that with chips after our walk. We continued south through the Italy Valley and then up through Middlesex. We stopped at a Mexican place in Canandaigua and were home before the sun went down.

Abstract Instructions

October 11th, 2017

Orange motorcycle in front of Trata Restaurant in Rochester New York

Without rehearsals to talk things over you have to find time to talk between sets. The first week I felt as though it might help to gently reinforce the idea that Phil did not have to do Bob. I don’t even know if I got that out. Phil sounds great so I did not want to jinx anything. I did talk about how I find it most satisfying when I lose awareness of the part I am playing and find myself listening to the whole. Phil said he had a few of those moments. And I was thinking, “What kind of instructions are these to be giving to someone the first time they’ve played with us?”

Tonight, I said, “Don’t feel like you have to be polite.” That was a real clunker so I’m just gonna stay out of this. Margaret Explosion is an ongoing experiment, Wednesday nights in the Little Theater Café until December.

Jeff Spevak’s blog got a real shot in the arm when his Gannett gig ended. I’m thinking he’s going to write his way into the future. He came to my talk on Saturday and reviewed the show. Alan Singer is an artist, a teacher and the son of Arthur, a sensational wildlife artist. He came to the Witness opening and reviewed the show on his blog.

Complicated And Contradictory

October 10th, 2017

Jessie Walp "Persistance" Maple, Dye, Concrete at R Gallery in Rochester, New York

Each of the three Rochester Biennial locations feature curated exhibitions that investigate collaboration, influence and partnership. Leo’s and mine at RoCo certainly had elements of all three facets. Bridget Elmer from Saint Petersburg, Florida partners with Emily Larned in Bridgeport, Connecticut and have formed a collective called ILLSA. Their artwork itself is all about these facets. And at R Gallery Buffalo artists, Bethany Krull & Jesse Walp, life partners and 2006-7 graduates of RIT’s Sculpture and Ceramics programs, collaborate in “Bound” to fill the space with both organic and organic-influenced man-made objects.

According to the wall text Krull “addresses the complicated and contradictory relationship between humans and animals” while Walp creates sculptures that “show no signs of the artist’s hand, making the work seem otherworldly.” I don’t see that but I remain open. Instead of complicated and contradictory I feel more like the animal I am and I I thought hand of the artist was striking, say in the concrete, the carved maple and dye in the piece above. I loved this show.

Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe or Good Morning Tom

October 9th, 2017

I did my second live Facebook event of the week on Saturday afternoon at RoCo. Wednesday’s Margaret Explosion stream from Ken Colombo’s phone was primarily for Bob in Chicago but Peggi and I watched it when got home from the gig. The two songs he caught, our first two with Phil Marshall on guitar, sounded pretty good. My Artist’s Talk did not. My voice is to meek to reach to back of the room where the camera was positioned. Peggi video it as well and she was sitting in the front row so I posted it here. One of the audience members mentioned he read my blog every morning so this post post goes out to him although, as I’ve noted before, I do this primarily for myself.

Bleu, RoCo’s curator, made the talk a breeze by asking me questions. Funny how the best questions are the ones that have no answers. By the end of the video Gary Pudup can be heard trying to bail me out by saying, “like Freud said, ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'” At which point I was fumbling for the Duchamp quote, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” but I could not come up with it until it was over.

After my talk we headed over to Visual Studies Workshop to see “Implement,” the sister Rochester Biennial show by ILLSA (Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts), an evolving publishing & public practice platform committed to investigating labor, time, and what we value. Co-founder, Emily Larned, gave her artist’s talk as we examined the show. The visuals take some explaining as they are intended to explore and expand the potential of the toolkit, inviting participants to consider and share what they deem to be essential tools for living.

At the end of the talk we participated by filling out a form where we answered three questions. “What is one of your essential tools for living? Why? Where do you find it? Peggi and I answered them all similarly. “Eyes, Ears.” “They enrich our life.” “In my head.”

Witness, The Soundtrack

October 8th, 2017

Music at The Liquor Store on West Main Street in Rochester, New York

Ossia’s New Music program for Thursday night was just what the doctor ordered, a real palette cleanser from the intense preparations for “Witness.” With six pieces from the past forty years the program was called “One +” and my guess is that is because each of the pieces, whether a duo, quartet, small ensemble or large ensemble, featured one instrument in dialog with the rest of the group.

A brass quartet opened the night with a piece called “Call,” “a short musical ceremony, “a call to the audience, an invitation to listen” – before the feast begins.

“Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say,” for soprano and flute, was like eavesdropping on a three disjointed conversations, maybe one end of a phone call. Wore thin for me but got the night’s best response. Oliver Knussen “Cantata,” with oboe and strings, was abstract and transportive, my favorite piece of the night.

“Splintered Instruments” for harp and ensemble was a call and response where the ensemble mimicked and fleshed out the pizzicato harp. “A Lyrical Concertino,” performed here for the first time, lived up to its title. “Songs from Solomon’s Garden,” for baritone voice and large ensemble was mysterious and weighty. Listening to this piece I felt as though our destiny may have been determined in that garden.

Ossia’s New Music series gives us hope for the future.

Joe Sorriero and Tim Polland from Nod played a set outside of RoCo on Friday night. They were hired by the Rochester Biennial to perform and I missed the whole thing. They were packing up by the time I came out of the “Witness” opening but they gave us directions to the performance space on West Main, an old Liquor Store, where Joe Tunis had organized an “post-free jazz electronic music” performance. We heard Rafael Toral coax otherworldly sounds from a mysterious, hand-held box.

Am I Obsessing?

October 6th, 2017

Bleu and Collen hanging title type for Witness show at RoCo

It’s First Friday tonight and instead of gallery hopping I will be holding court in RoCo. I wish Leo could have been here for his opening but I know that was not meant to be. We drove by Rochester Contemporary yesterday and saw that their windows were all papered over. I came awake last night worried about one of my charcoal drawings. Am I obsessing or is that one not holding its own with the other twenty? I think the answer is “both.” I’d like to take it home, rework it and bring it back.

We stopped out at MCC for an opening last night. Monica Frisell was showing photos from her “Looking Forward: Portraits from an RV” series. If that name sounds familiar she is the daughter of a famous guitar player. And her mom, Carole d’Inverno, had a fabulous show at MCC’s Mercer Gallery a couple of years ago. This is a talented family.

We chatted with Monica and Carole at the show and then left for Ossia’s first performance of the year at Kilbourn Hall. On the way out we ran into Bill who was out walking Monica’s dog. Peggi asked if she could take a photo. We told him we were planning to send the photo to Bob Martin in Chicago and tell Bob that Phil didn’t work out and we had hired this guy.

Dragon Sauce

October 5th, 2017

Leo Dodd watercolor of Rochester's Washington Square Park currently in Witness show at Rochester Contemporary

Margaret Explosion’s first performance with Phil Marshall came off without a hitch. I was confident that it would. Phil sounds great. Ken Colombo streamed our first two songs live on Facebook so Bob Martin in Chicago could hear how it went without him.

Everybody knows the Mushroom House. It is so over the top. But I had forgotten that the same local architect also designed the Liberty Pole (nowhere near as elegant as the Civil War Monument in Rochester’s Washington Square Park, pictured above in a watercolor by Leo Dodd). I’m not crazy about the house or the pole but James Johnson also designed many of this area’s most unique sacred places, churches and temples, and this is where is his organic sense of form really shines. Temple Sinai in Brighton, the dramatic light silo in St. John the Evangelist Church in Greece and the AME Zion Church on Clarissa Street in Rochester – Frederick Douglas’s old congregation – are all magnificent. Chris Brandt, architectural designer at Bero Architecture, gave a presentation about Johnson’s achievements today at the Memorial Art Gallery and it was really inspiring. I especially loved how he cast giant Gaudi-like organic forms in sand and then lifted them into place in structures like St. Januarius Church in Naples.

We hadn’t been to Atlas Eats all summer. “Witness” has been all consuming. We would have eaten out on the sidewalk but they were taking down a tree across the street. We started with a cup of coffee and both Peggi and I ordered the usual: Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese with Braised Onions in Peggi’s case and Kimchee with Tofu in mine. The homemade Dragon Sauce is secret weapon there.

Developing My Picture

October 4th, 2017

Leo Dodd working on watercolor of Margaret Explosion

Leo Dodd is shown here, working on his painting of Margaret Explosion. Although it is unfinished, that is definitely Ken Frank on bass, Peggi Fournier on soprano sax and Paul Dodd on drums. And that’s Pete LaBonne on piano but he only plays with the band every couple of months. Is that Bob Martin? No. Wait, I think that is Phil Marshall, Margaret Explosion’s newest member, on guitar. Hope you can stop tonight and say hello to him. You can see the finished painting on Leo Dodd’ website.

Of course, we have not rehearsed with Phil. We never rehearsed with Bob or in the twenty year history of the band. That would spoil everything. We don’t have any songs to rehearse. We only have songs after having played them live and they will never sound better than they did that first time. We have tested this hypothesis. The interaction and exchange that goes on while the song is developing is something you cannot recreate. And why would you want to recreate when you could be part of creation?

Our first show with Phil is tonight at the Little Theatre Café 7-9pm Free Admission. Hope you can stop out.
Paul and Peggi

Leo Dodd and Paul Dodd have a show called “Witness” at Rochester Contemporary – Opening Friday Oct. 6, 6-9pm

And here’s a link to George Jones’ song.

Rogues Gallery

October 3rd, 2017

Purple round wall at Rochester Contemporary for Witness show of Leo Dodd and Paul Dodd paintings and drawings.

I created a movie of my sources, some of them more than twenty years old. I used to hold the CrimeStopper page in hand, folded up to reveal just one of the mugshots, and work from that. I held the page with the thumb of my left hand, pressing it against my paint palette. At some point I started scanning the page and blowing up the small photos so I could print out the mugshots at a larger size. The photos didn’t get any better, just larger. For the past few years they have been putting the CrimeStopper page online so I download the pdf, crop the photos and print them out.

I don’t need all the CrimeStopper pages, I just paint and draw the same faces over and over, only refreshing the batch from time to time. I rounded up my collection of scans (blown up they have a golf ball sized dot pattern) and cropped photos from the pdf (no dot pattern but a rather limited resolution) and I put the jpegs into Keynote. I turned the images on their side and cropped them to the 16 by 9 wide format. RoCo will spin their wall mounted, large Sony monitor on its side and the movie I created from the slide show will go ’round and ’round in a dvd player mounted in the ceiling.

That monitor is mounted about four feet up, in the dark, on the inside of this round room (near the back of Rochester Contemporary). They painted the title wall near the entry and the round wall purple, the purple I got when I sampled my father’s Freddy Sue Bridge painting to do the postcard for Witness. Show opens this Friday 6-9pm.


October 2nd, 2017

Turtle on a walking path in Durand

I wanted to take this guy home with me. I had a turtle about this size when I was a kid. I named it Manuel after a character in a movie. No idea what that would have been. I used to let it run around in our backyard on Brookfield, near where Radio Social is now. I took my eyes off it and it went under the neighbor’s fence. I looked for him for days and really missed him.

This one was right out on the walking path that parallels Sweet Fern Road in the Park. I took a few photos and picked him up and set him down in the weeds. I hope he’s ok.

Drawing • Talking

October 1st, 2017

Leo Dodd watercolor painting of O'Rourke Bridge construction

My father was drawn to construction sites. And he drew construction sites. He was attracted to the scale of man to machine and machine to the project, in this case the O’Rourke Bridge. The new bridge went up while the nearby Stutson Street Draw Bridge continued to carry traffic over the Genesee River near the Port of Rochester. And then they demolished that bridge and reconfigured the end of River Street. Change is good and my father was excited by it all.

There are four Leo Dodd paintings of this scene in “Witness,”the show that opens Friday at Rochester Contemporary. One shows both bridges, the new one meeting from both sides of the river while cars chug by on the old bridge. He must have done thirty watercolors of this bridge. Some were done on the site, some rather quickly, but mostly he would sketch the men and machines while work went on and later he would assemble the painting at home. And when he got the composition right he would do multiple versions until he was happy with the painting.

Axom Gallery‘s director, Rick Muto, wrote “What is most distinctive in Leo Dodd’s art is the composition and design, particularly in the activity filled construction scenes. In these works he has created images which have been distilled down to a lyrical interplay of geometric shapes and expressive color that reaches into the abstract vocabulary of the modernist period.”

Leo loved to draw and would fumble for a pencil while he talked to you, saying, “I can’t talk without a pencil.” Sure enough a quick sketch would clarify a thought. There is a real sense of drama in his paintings and it’s mixed with whimsy. You can sense his delight at capturing a movement or a gesture. The ease with which he lays out the perspective blows me away. He could draw. I hope his show will be a draw.

Something Else

September 29th, 2017

Paul Dodd Model from Crime Page painting 2017

This painting was still wet when I dropped it off. I know that’s a risky thing to do, show something before the dust settles, but I wanted something that got away from the grid. Or grids. I’m showing a lot of them. Twenty new charcoal drawings, ten of the Bug Jar Mugshots, 12 of my 2008 oil on canvas “Models from Crime Page,” a double triptych of the 2004 “Models from Crime Page” (36″ x 24″ oils), six of the 2015 small oil on wood panel “Models from Crime Page,” and all six of the original 4″x4″ 1971 mugshots of my Bloomington friends. So this one at 4 feet by 5 feet, will position itself on one wall.

There’s other stuff there too. The place is huge. Original Crimestopper pages, scans of my sources on a monitor and the earliest mugshot painting I could find, one from 1996. I fretted for days about showing that one, thinking my new stuff is so much better. And then I came back down to earth. RoCo wanted an early piece to show show the scope of this project. I searched everywhere for one that was even earlier. A have a photograph of it but I must have thrown it away.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite Philip Guston quotes.

“There is the canvas, and there is you. There is also something else, a third thing. In the beginning’s dialog – between you and the surface. As you work, you think and you do. In my way of working. I work to eliminate the distance or the time between my thinking and doing.

Then there comes a point of existing for a long time in a negative state, when you are willing to eliminate things that have been looking good all the time; you have as a measure – and once you have experienced it, nothing else will satisfy you – that some other thing or force is commanding you: only this shall you, can you, accept a this moment.”

What Vs. Why

September 28th, 2017

Leo Dodd drawing of my accident with Sammy G" Gingello in Webster, New York

I am not particularly interested in the why. I am more interested in the what.

But we have been developing a back story from fuzzy old negatives as to why I am interested in the mugshot. The better to serve the public.

I traced a certain fascination to 1970 when my brother was arrested in Ohio for pot. It was an incredibly minor infraction in my book but he was looking at ten years in maximum security. His arrest had huge impact on our family. My brother was in town a few weeks ago and shared a few of the letters my father wrote to him while he was in prison.

I was back home for the summer, staying with my parents in Webster, and I headed out somewhere in their black VW bug. I had my dog, Molly, in the back seat and I was only a few blocks from our home when I spotted Brad walking up to my house. He had probably hitchhiked over, we hitchhiked everywhere in those days. I swung the passenger door open for Brad to get in while trying to keep Molly from jumping out and then turned left right in front of a fancy red car. My dad illustrates all this in the enlargement of his drawing above.

But he left out one interesting detail. The red car that I hit, the guy I pulled directly in front of, was the infamous Salvatore “Sammy G” Gingello, a local mobster, and he wasn’t as pissed off as I would have expected anyone to be. He was just grumbling about how he was on his way somewhere and this was gonna set him back. I read a pretty interesting book about the Rochester mob written by Georgia Durante, Sammy’s girlfriend. Sammy was killed in 1978 when a bomb was detonated as he entered his car, which was parked outside of the Blue Gardenia restaurant in Irondeqouit.

Minimalist Entry

September 27th, 2017

Furniture by the side of the road in Rochester, New York

These two pieces of furniture, out by the road in front of the horse barn on Wisner Road, crystallized the day for me.

Molly Malone

September 26th, 2017

Funny that John Gilmore stopped by today. It was 90 degrees and he wanted to soak in our pool but by the time we got down there he thought it was too cold. This time of year I don’t stick my toe in, I just jump in. I say “funny” because I was editing this 2014 footage of my father speaking at an artist’s talk at I-Square in 2014. John videoed it and he gave us a copy. My brother John and I were also in the show but I edited our parts out. I may post them as parts 2 and 3 somewhere down the road.

There is an artist’s talk at RoCo on October 7th for the “Witness” show with Leo and me. I guess they are doing it FB Live so you don’t have to leave home. My father won’t be able to be there so I’m posting this footage. It’s 23 minutes long and and I don’t want to spoil it for you if you actually slog your way through but my father mentions this song at the end and I want to dedicate it to him.