Not Turning The Page

November 23rd, 2015

Picasso Hand sculpture at MoMA

We took the F train uptown on Sunday to see the Picasso sculpture show at MoMA. Picasso hung on to most of his sculptures during lifetime and I suspect he did so because they were his tangible representations of form. They were inspirational building blocks he could live with and use in his work. I think he inspired himself with these. He pushed boundaries in and out of cubism and celebrated the human form above all. My favorite was this hand.

We cut through Rockefeller Center on our way to the museum and I was surprised to see the tree had not been decorated yet. There was a giant wooden scaffold built around the tree and police with high powered rifles and dogs surrounded the structure, an apocalyptic post Paris holiday scene.

Back in Duane’s apartment I spent some quality time with Robert Frank’s “Storylines” photo book. I found this quote in there, a quote that started at the bottom of one page and continued on the next. The continuation was pertinent but the first part knocked me out.

“There comes a point when it is no longer a question of an art that is over here, in a pristine volume, or Out There, on a pristine wall, in a secure category or genre; but an art that has become part of how you see

… turn the page if you must

the world. You no longer merely look (up, out) at it; it is inside you like a lamp, which illuminates all the details spread out below in what might otherwise be unmitigated darkness. You are no longer you without its memory.”

Hey There, Georgio

November 22nd, 2015

Georgio Morandi painting at David Zwirner in NYC

When we were coming down to Manhattan with the band in the early eighties the gallery scene was clustered in the loft spaces of SoHo. Clothing designers moved in, the gritty old factory spaces went upscale and the galleries moved out. Today there is a hundred or so galleries in a five block area of Chelsea and although the art market is richer than ever or maybe because the art market is richer than ever the real estate values in that part of town are going though the roof. So galleries are are closing shop or moving out.

The big galleries that remain are becoming small museums with suited guards and blue chip artists. Just today we saw shows by the op art queen, Bridget Riley, the minimalist champion, Donald Judd, giant photo emulsion paintings from the nineties by Robert Rauschenberg, career spanning work from Brice Marden in three different Matthew Marks galleries, twenty five large Jeff Koons’ copies of El Grecos, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Manet and Picasso, each with three dimensional, blue reflective globes mounted directly in front of the paintings, a move that struck me as John Baldesarri without the humor.

Claus Oldenburg is still doing three dimensional, oversize, soft looking everyday objects and easily filled gallery with new work. We sat in Mary Hielman’s brightly colored chairs in the center of a gallery and marveled at her new shaped canvas paintings. I get these clunky looking chairs now. They are a port to an immensely more playful world. Beautiful Robert Motherwell collages from the seventies filled a gallery on 24th Street. Fantastic to see how he picked up motifs in scraps of paper, a discarded cigarette package, and created a dialog with it. We stumbled on a group of graphic and somewhat rude Carrol Dunham paintings. He’s always popping up on my Tumblr blog. Louise Fishman was at her own show, holding court in front of a wall of her luscious water colors. And of course admission to all these shows was free.

I’ve saved the best for last. Georgio Morandi is one of my favorite artists. He lived his whole live in the house he grew up in painting fairly small still lifes of bottles and vases that he often painted before arranging, theatrically staging actually, on a tabletop. David Zwirner gallery has mounted a knock-out show of his work. Please click the detail photo above to see the whole painting. It is near criminal to crop a Morandi as I have.

Although he died in the mid sixties his work is painterly like that of a master yet dramatically minimal at the same time. The mundane taken to extremes. He is quoted as saying, “Nothing is more abstract than reality.” He does so much with so little. Looking at his paintings is somehow a quieting and exhilarating experience at the same time.

Peggi spotted a familiar looking tall man with a white beard talking to the people behind the desk in the gallery. It was the LA art guru himself, John Baldessari!

A Long Shot

November 20th, 2015

Inside old barn old barn on Westfall Road in Rochester, New York

There are very few remnants of farm life left in Brighton, a mature, inner-ring suburb of Rochester. The barns along Westfall Road, where there are now more doctors per square inch than Strong hospital, are some of the last remaining. My father, an active member of Historic Brighton, would like to see the town save them.

I met my dad the other day inside one of these barns, now a “ruin porn” site. He was measuring the distance between the poles so that he could do an architecturally true, three dimensional drawing of the barn. He uses the free SketchUp program that was developed by Google. I’m guessing he’ll submit the drawings to the town in hopes that they will be able to envision a repurposing. A long shot.

Autumn Leaves

November 20th, 2015

Dave Liebman solo performance at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Dave Liebman is an educator as well as a musician so of course he had to do long introductions to each song. Educators like to hear themselves talk and the good ones have a lot of great stuff to say. Liebman fits both of these bills perfectly. He performed solo at the Bop Shop tonight to the biggest house I have ever seen there.

Liebman played saxes and flute with Miles in the heady seventies. He played interpretations of couple of colors on soprano sax, choosing turbulent red and contemplative grey. He soloed on tenor sax and switched to piano to perform a beautiful version of Ornette’s “Lonely Woman.” He let the piano sustain while he soloed on top with a wooden flute. He called Ornette “the most melodic musician ever.” I would agree. Next up was Sydney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” on soprano sax.

Liebman has played with some of jazz’s best drummers, people like Elvin Jones and Al Foster and guess what, Dave plays drums too. He sat behind the Bop Shop’s kit for a drum solo but not before talking about his favorite scene in the James Brown movie where James informs the horn players that everyone in his band is a drummer.

He finished on tenor with Coltrane’s “Peace On Earth” and then invited Bill Dobbins to join him on piano while he played “Autumn Leaves.”

First Of The Storm

November 17th, 2015

England France football friendly at Wembley Stadium

The only green around here is the Wembley Stadium pitch on our tv. Check the enlargement of this photo for our grey/brown surroundings. The French national team pulled it o gather to take on England in a friendly. The English saluted them before the game and cleaned their clocks in the 90 minutes.

The dental hygienist tried to sell me on bite-wing X-rays today just like the last time. I’ve had so many over the years I try to limit my exposure by turning her down and promising to do it next time. She has a kindergarten teacher-like manner. “Hi Paul! Are you all ready for Thanksgiving?” “Ah, no.” I usually dismiss her and that is probably my mistake.

I was looking my last full mow x-rays on her monitor while she cleaned my teeth. I have all these glaring white teeth in mouth, on the x-rays that is. “Those are all caps and bridges,” she said. “I should have taken better care of my teeth,” I thought aloud. She didn’t miss a beat and said, “Life is one long learning experiment. And our experiences make us who we are.” She added, “I don’t think we ever stop learning.”

New Pencil

November 16th, 2015

New docks in Port of Rochester

We ordered a few coloring books for my mom, one on birds and one on butterflies, and we rode our bikes over there today to drop them off. I also had a computer problem to address on my dad’s machine. He watches Charlie Rose most night and he sketches the quests on his iPad with a program called SketchBook Pro and lately he has been unable to save his drawings. His iPad is out of disc space and there are maybe a hundred drawings on it that I can’t transfer to his computer because the application wigged out when it ran out of room. I kept getting a message that says I cannot sync because there is not enough free space even after I took a bunch of apps off the iPad. The Apple forums suggested I “reset” the iPad and that helped. At least the error messages now made sense. But I still couldn’t transfer or even email the drawings to my father’s computer without getting messages that the files were corrupt. It is the first generation iPad and the times come. I’m thinking of heading out to the Apple Store with him and picking up the iPad Pro and Pencil combination. It will make it a lot easier on his tech support.

We crossed Portland Avenue at an intersection, on a crosswalk and with the light but a woman turned right into us. Came right at the side of us on our bikes with her car and we swerved. No acknowledgement whatsoever. I know “close” only counts in horseshoes but I was struck by how indifferent someone can be to snuffing out another life. Don’t know if she was on a phone, texting, spaced out or what but I’m quite sure if she had taken one of us out she would have kept going as if nothing happened.

So Pure, So Real

November 15th, 2015

Tabletop at Pete andShelley's place in New York State

Eric and Amy lived in France before settling in the Hudson Valley so we expected Amy Rigby to address the Paris terrorist attacts in her show last night in our neighbors’ living room. She opened with an aptly vulnerable version of Jackie DeShannon’s “Put A Little Love In Your Heart.” Peggi and I had front row seats, reserved for us because earlier in the day I had helped Rick move the fifty some chairs from his basement to their living room. Amy’s guitar pickup went directly to the board and she stood in front of us between the two PA speakers that served as monitors and sound system with only three pedals on the floor in front of her and no amp. We had a bird’s eye view when her foot missed the Sioux distortion pedal.

She had just returned from her hometown of Pittsburgh and did a song dedicated to the dead end possibilities of that place next and then something about growing a pair of balls and then a Nashville-bound gem with the manly lyric, “I hate every bone in her body but mine.” The brilliant “Keep it to Yourself” after that then the anthem, “Do You Remember That?” to close out the first set.

Peggi and I manned the merch booth, a white enamel-topped table in Rick and Monica’s kitchen that reminded me of Pete and Shelley’s table (shown above). We only knew a few people at this house concert. One guy came up to us and said, “Hi, I’m Chris.” Peggi said it reminded her of a church gathering but we managed to sell a few cds.

Amy started the second set with a song where she gives the drummer some but she preceded it with a string of hilarious drummer jokes, most of which I had heard from Brad Fox over the years. And then “Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again?” She is lyrical and musical and funny and sweet. A song about her daughter, (You’re Perfect) “Don’t Ever Change,” makes me cry every time I hear it. A singer/songwriter who writes about dancing with Joey Ramone and finishes the night with a Flaming Groovies song. I guess that is why she really gets to me. She has a rock and roll heart.


November 15th, 2015

End of Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

November in this part of the world can be cruel but not so this year. We’re still looking for things to do outside while the temperature pushes sixty and the skies are clear. We’ve been chipping away at a giant pile of wood, stuff we hauled home from our neighbor’s yards when they had their trees trimmed, and we have enough stacked up to go in the firewood business. The whole trick is stacking it so we can get at the oldest first, the stuff that is the driest and most ready to provide BTUs in the dead of winter.

Quest For Sainthood

November 13th, 2015

Stations Of The Cross movie poster

About twenty years ago I started my own version of the Passion Play, the last day of Christ’s life. I planned to do paintings from collected source material but I haven’t got there yet. “Stations of the Cross,” a German film from 2014 had its Rochester premier at the Dryden Theater last night. It is a beautiful film, one that sweeps you up and takes you away into its own world. That is, it felt really strange in the parking lot after the movie.

Told in fourteen fixed-angle, single shot, tableaus that parallel Christ’s journey to his own crucifixion, the film is as close a depiction of the church I grew up in as I have ever seen. Lea van Acken as Maria (Mary, Virgin) perfectly plays the innocent whose entire thought process is corrupted by deranged religious purists – Catholic fundamentalists. The opening scene has her preparing for her Confirmation as the priest lays the classic guilt trip on the class with a capsulized version of hard-core Christian dogma. Nothing short of total devotion to God is ever enough. Maria sacrifices earthly pleasures and her short life so that her autistic brother can speak in a crazy quest for sainthood.

When Maria passes out at her Confirmation service (the Catholic bat mitzvah) I was thinking about the many times one of my brothers dropped in the aisles after fasting for communion. She is taken to a doctor who thinks he see signs of bullying or abuse in the pale and weak Maria. “Stations of the Cross” walks a very fine line. The film is gorgeous like a Gerhard Richter painting, it feels intimate and real. The indictment of religion as an abuser is just below the surface in every scene. I really loved this movie. Maybe someday I’ll finish my Passion Play paintings.

Esoteric Wonder

November 11th, 2015

Steve Piper drawing at Margaret Explosion Little Theater gig

Most Wednesday nights Steve Piper can be seen drawing in one of the front tables for Margaret Explosion’s Little Theater gig. He may have picked this habit up from his bandmate, Scott Regan, who rarely goes anywhere without a sketchbook. Or he may simply be responding to Frank DeBlase’s City Newspaper review of the band. “Their esoteric wonder paints pictures in my head nonstop.”

Steve Piper drawing of Margaret Explosion at the Little Theater Café.

Steve’s drawings are expressive and border on abstraction. Scott’s are representational and quite incisive. Frank’s observation is especially fluid and inspiring. Certainly that is what an instrumental, improvisational band tries to do.

Here is a song from last week’s performance at the Little Theater Café. Pete LaBonne joined us on piano.
Margaret Explosion - Pianissimo
Margaret Explosion – Pianissimo

Dead End

November 10th, 2015

Dead end sign on Wisner Road in Rochester, New York

Wisner Road used to lead right into the park. This barrier wasn’t here. You could continue through the park on Zoo Road and come out on Lakeshore Boulevard and I’ll bet it was quite a short cut. As it stands, it’s a deadend and you have to drive around the park. A brilliant move on someone’s part because it keeps all that traffic out of the park.

When we moved here we were told this part of the park is a hangout for gay hookups and there has always been plenty of tiny drug bags on the ground, not that those two things go together. It is mostly populated by dog walkers, people who drive to the park and let their dog run free despite the sign that reads, “Dogs Must Be On Leash.” I mention these infractions because the lettering on the sign and the road in front of it reads like someone is upset by something the police did. Probably not the dog walkers.

A fellow named John May wrote a letter to the editor that was published in today’s New York Times, a well written letter in response to the Sunday article about how lies don’t really matter anymore when it comes to politicians. With a name like that I didn’t think it could possibly be the John May in our painting class but when he walked in tonight he was wearing an especially large smile.

Amy! Amy! Amy!

November 9th, 2015

Amy Rigby poster for upcoming house concert gig in Rochester, New York

Our neighbors, Rick and Monica, have had quite a few house concerts over the years. We’ve been to a few but the singer/songwriter scene is not really our thing. I was playing horseshoes with Rick and he mentioned that there were still some seats left for Saturday’s show with Amy Rigby. She has played Rochester many times with her hubby, Eric, but this one is a solo show. “Still some seats left?” My graphic art instincts took over.

I grabbed a photo of Amy off the web and made a kick-ass poster to get the word out. I fired off a copy to Rick and one to Amy. Not sure if Rick did anything with it but he said he “loved it.” Amy hoped people wouldn’t show up wondering where the woman in the poster was. I am just a fan so I don’t have to be concerned with this nonsense. I’m pretending Saturday’s event is a rock n’ roll show without the racket. Here’s the real Amy.

Mating Season

November 9th, 2015

Close up of buck on Hoffman Road in Rochester, New York

There are too many deer around here. They strip the low vegetation in the woods and wander into traffic looking for ornamental shrubs in people’s yards. You can’t hunt on park land so there are very few preditors. We have coyottes but not enough to keep the deer population in check. The zoo in Durand Eastman used to have deer behind fences. The zoo folded, took down it’s fences and the deer remain. The woods behind our house is like a petting zoo. That is until mating season.

You can smell deer this time of year. It is hard to tell if the bucks are having the time of their life or if they are just all bulked up to do business and frustrated. They roam the woods alone tracking small groups of does and chasing them straight up steep hillsides. They take on other males, violently banging their heads against the racks on other bucks in knock down duels. We even saw three going after each other in an open meadow over the weekend.

Hydrogen Jukebox

November 8th, 2015

Eastman Opera Company set for "Hydrogen Jukebox"

The title of Philip Glass’s “Hydrogen Jukebox,” came from a verse in Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl.” Glass and Ginsburg picked eighteen of Ginsburg’s poems as the libretto for the 1990 chamber opera and the Eastman Opera Theater performed the piece four times this weekend with two different casts. Ginsburg read his work at the formative performances and Glass is quoted as saying he tried to respect the music that was already in the delivery of the words when he wrote the score for the trained voices. It is remarkable how well the sometimes bombastic verse fits the pulsating music.

With no traditional story the decline of the American empire, war and pacifism served as the theme. The church-like set with sacrificial table, fire pit, flags with corporate logos and roulette wheel centerpiece with stops at all the countries we have declared war on was a comfortable environment for the six actors/singers/dancers. The soft beginning beautiful ending piece eased us in and out of some heady, turbulent times very much like our own.

A Steal

November 7th, 2015

"Young Attorney" lithograph by William Gropper at Warren Philips Gallery in Rochester, New York

William Gropper studied with Robert Henri and George Bellows in NYC and he was influenced by the graphic work of the greats, Goya and Daumier. All this is apparent when you see Gropper’s work. And there is a litho, “Young Attorney,” for sale in Warren Philips gallery right now for somewhere near 500 bucks. I love how animated the four characters are, how distinct their expressions are. I love the cop’s pose and the lumpy defendant. This thing is a steal.

While you’re there you can take in the Rochester Print Club’s annual Member’s Show. It was our favorite stop on last night’s First Friday run.

Fall Forward

November 4th, 2015

Deck table in leaves

The empty chairs on our deck await the imminent arrival of Pete and Shelley. Fall has peaked and moved on in the mountains so they will get another crack at it here. Pete LaBonne will be playing the grand piano with Margaret Explosion tonight at the Little Theater Café. We look forward to the chaos that ensues.

Here is a song from last week’s performance at the Little Theater Café.
Margaret Explosion - Beauty
Margaret Explosion – Beauty

Cabbage Head

November 3rd, 2015

Head of cabbage in Rick and Monica's garden

Up here, near Lake Ontario, we have not had an official frost so this seventy degree weather cannot be called Indian Summer. I’m only making that distinction because I stayed quiet when the lady at the voting booth called it such this morning. Somehow it always seems like a nice day when we vote. It probably has something to do with our route to the booths which takes us through the woods in the park, across the creek and up into the neighborhood of small houses between Culver and the park. Why isn’t this the new hipster section of Rochester? That would probably have something to do with number of Tea Party flags flying here. And those little placards in the window that read, “This house is protected by 2nd Amendment.”

The firehouse in Point Pleasant Fire is nestled into the aptly-named neighborhood. And the best part of voting here is getting a peek of the dreamy bar in the next room. Every year I vow to rent the place for a party, one with a band and dancing. We could crawl home through the woods.

Black Lives Matter

November 1st, 2015

"Black Police Lives Matter" sign near he corner of Titus Avenue and Culver Road in Rochester, New York

We are all oblivious to things going on around us but I felt felt especially so when our new neighbor told me he was seriously considering not buying their house because the police in this part of town had a reputation for racism. It was shortly after they moved in when this story made the news.

So with some new found awareness this little sign near the corner of Titus Avenue and Culver Road caught my eye. Almost too small to be seen as you drive by it easily catches the eye of bike riders. I hope it has nothing to do with the nearby Art Deco house with the nautical theme but I suspect it is the work of a nearby neighbor. Irondequoit is the wrong town to be trying to take this meager campaign away from those whose lives are affected.

The sign, as seen above has had a few incarnations in the last few weeks. It started as “Police Lives Matter” in a lighter font. Someone scratched out “Police” and added “Black.” The originator came back with a bolder “Police Lives Matter” and pasted right over the amended sign and then shrink wrapped the whole sign in plastic.

Yesterday afternoon I wrote the word “Black” with a Sharpie, just above “Police Lives Matter” creating this confounding black police message. You see, I not only manage the Funky Signs website I am also a customer. Peggi and I rode by today and the sign was gone.

Apparently people feel left out by Black Lives Matter slogan because I keep hearing people say, “all lives matter.” Well, that wouldn’t be much of a campaign and it completely sidesteps the issue.


October 31st, 2015

Halloween shower curtain at Rochester Yacht Club

We considered going to the Halloween Bowie Karaoke event, “Bowieoke,” at Visual Studies tonight, just long enough to have “Golden Years” stuck in my head. Someone plans to to re-enact the 1976 Bowie/Iggy Rochester drug bust and I would to see that.

I was thinking we had to drop off art work for the RoCo Members show this weekend but that’s next weekend. And Peggi had set aside a coupon for Parkleigh, where my sister works, so we planned to stop by there, mainly to visit but also to take advantage of the coupon. Turns out the sale is next weekend. We’re gonna need the extra hour tonight to get our life organized.

We stopped in the new India House restaurant on Èast Ridge Road. They’re in a strip mall across from Medley Center in a place that was Chinese and then Thai and they are apparently too new to have any customers yet. We were the only ones in the place and we were ordering to go. We told the waiter we were in the mood for something hearty. He said, “What is hearty?” We tried “substantial, meaty without meat, not light, beans” and a few others. He recommended a spinach paneer dish and it hit the spot.

On the way home we passed a group of kids in costumes. I had the idea to yell “boo” so I pushed the button to lower the window. We were around the corner before I got it down.

Fred Talk

October 29th, 2015

Fred Lipp Presentation to Janet Lipp's art class at Monroe Community College 2014

Janet Lipp, an artist and teacher like her father, invited Fred Lipp to talk to her class a few times over the years. In 2014 she videoed the presentation he gave to her MCC art class. I studied with Fred’s for many years and he hardly ever talked about his own work. So it is a joy to hear him do so here. He used the same thought process that he taught and it is especially powerful to see him pull it all off. I am so thankful he was willing to share what he loved.

The movie is over an hour long but it is jam packed with wisdom. Check it out.

The Creative Workshop had a celebration of Fred’s work tonight, a gathering of former students in conjunction with a show of their work in the Lucy Byrne Gallery. They were showing this movie in a separate room and in the building next door the Memorial Art Gallery had a painting of Fred’s that they bought in 1972, a big abstract called “Sculptural Fetish.” Fred would have loved it.