Archive for the ‘Notes On Painting’ Category

Carrying On

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

10 new Models from Crime Page on studio wall, June 2017

I ran into a guy who was in my painting class for many years. He asked if I was still painting. I said I am drawing. He said I haven’t done anything in two years. That would be just about the time our teacher died. Fred Lipp affected many people that way. He was a way of going forward. Criticism, correction, repeat and then on to the next piece.

I too took a long break but I never stopped thinking about his advice. I live with his words in my head and the absolute last thing he would want would be for someone to stop when he left. I was going to move on from this whole crime face stuff but I’m not finished with it yet. I never will be but it sort of encompasses everything so why bother. And I have an opportunity to show a lot it in October so I’m carrying on.

Brilliant Distillation

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Park bench in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

Who would go to a documentary about Sol Lewitt at two in the afternoon on the warmest day of the year? Well, we would. The screening is another installment in the series of events surrounding the “Minimal Mostly” show at R1 Studio.

The movie had a maximal amount of substance, much more than Wednesday’s lecture at the gallery. Although I really enjoyed MAG director, Jonathan Binstock’s, take on Ellsworth Kelly’s work, a brilliant distillation launched by the Kelly prints in Deborah Ronnen’s show. He said “sometimes I feel like I could round up all the art in my house and replace it with one Ellsworth Kelly because his work is the essence of art.” Peggi and I had just seen a show of Kelly’s last paintings in Chelsea and I knew exactly what he meant.

The Sol Lewitt movie was insanely beautiful.


Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Religious nuts in Times Square 2017

I’ve been working on some new charcoal drawings. I love the graphic quality of the medium. I find it dangerously graphic. I get way out ahead of myself with bold, confident strokes and then I step back and discover I put those beautiful marks in the wrong place. That’s just one of my problems. And that is why God made erasers. Working subtractively is every bit as exciting as building things up.

There was an article in the Styles section of yesterday’s paper about the artist, Wayne Thiebaud. He is in his nineties and still active and the article prompted me to get my Wayne Thiebaud book out. My sister, Amy, worked at University Press in the early eighties and they published the book. She gave it to me. I dove in again and spent part of my morning looking at his work. He is quoted as saying: “I think of myself as a beginner. If you could just do it, there’d be no point in doing it.”


Friday, May 26th, 2017

Barbara Fox 'Light Play" Collage at UR Gallery at Art Music Library

Barbara Fox’s opening for “Light Play,” a show of recent collages at the Art Music Library on the UR campus, is next Thursday, June 1. We have family in town for my mom’s funeral and probably won’t be able to make that so we stopped by today. It was just us and the art today and that enhanced the experience.

We had just seen Rauschenberg’s sometimes heavy-handed collages at MoMA where my initial inclination was often to just look away. Barbara’s work is just as playful but it is delicate and it draws you in. There are smudges and drips and her hand is present. With a graceful color sense the collages are drawn and painted, layered, and pasted in multiple layers. They are loose and gestural and then perfectly formed. There is a musical dialog in this work that I found most enjoyable.

It was also a treat to find my brother, John’s, “Get Together,” concrete sphere chairs sitting by the entrance to the gallery. We went out for a walk when we got back and spotted three baby foxes playing near a drainage pipe in the big gulley at the end of our road. We watched quietly for a bit and one of them tackled and killed a squirrel. They didn’t eat the squirrel, this was just for sport. The poor thing is laying upside down and I’m sure some other facet of nature will come into play to dispose of it.

More Minimal Maximal

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

One of Ellsworth Kelly's last paintings at Matthew Marks Gallery in Chelsea.

We were just down here a month ago when we sold the Warhol prints that we bought with my brother, Mark. And at that auction my brother stuck his paddle in the air and came home with four gorgeous Brice Marsden prints. He just brought them home from the framers before we got there on Friday afternoon. We pulled the plastic wrap off them late that evening and then came alive.

It could be time to re-read Kirk Varnedoe’s “Pictures of Nothing.” We started our Saturday stroll through Chelsea with Ellsworth Kelly’s Last Paintings at Matthew Mark’s Gallery. He was at the top of his game when he died recently at 92. We discovered the playful early abstract work of the Brazilian artist, Lydia Clark. We spent an hour or so with Richard Serra’s “Horizontal Reversals,” black oil tick drawings so strong they are sculptural. And finished our tour with Carmen Herera’s show on 10th Avenue. Minimalism is in the air and Varnedoe’s book is the best way to revel in it when the real stuff is not around.

We will keep this ball rolling tomorrow when we visit “Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction” at MoMA.


Friday, May 12th, 2017

Sol LeWitt Cube at Deborah Ronnen's Galley in Rochester, New York

We like to eat early. More accurately, we don’t like trying to sleep on a full stomach. So we stopped in at Branca, downtown in the old Midtown complex, at around six and asked for a table. The bar was crowded but the dining room looked empty except for one party. The hostess looked down at her book and told us they booked. So we left. We had greens and beans and small pizza over at Venutos’s.

Deborah Ronnen’s “Mostly Minimal” pop-up show at R1 Studios on University was the night’s attraction. There was some beautiful Ellsworth Kelly prints and display this Sol LeWitt Cube that we we fell in love with. Deborah buys what she loves, Anni and Josef Albers, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin. It was a sensational show and should be up for another six weeks. And the Dryden Theater is screening a 2012 documentary on Sol LeWitt in conjunction with this show.

One More

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Marsden Hartley Log Industry painting from Maine show at Met Breuer

Steve left yesterday afternoon by train and he should be in Charleston by now. Kim left this morning and she she texted us us that she had landed safely in SF. We were planning on driving back to Rochester but we booked another night here. That gave us plenty of time to savor the Maraden Hartley show at the Met Breuer. He is one of my favorite painters, so rough and cultivated at the same time.

We Five

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Artwork being moved into a gallery in Chelsea

Many of the galleries in Chelsea were between shows. It didn’t really matter, we had no real agenda. We were a group of four college friends, wandering and talking like no time had passed at all. I was set on seeing the Alice Neel show at Zwirner and that was fantastic. We never did make it to the Max Ernst show, we went up on the High Line and didn’t touch down until the Whitney where we took in the Bienial.

Dana Schultz’s controversial Emmett Till painting, “Open Cassket,” had no protesters standing in front of it and her lengthy artist’s statement, something that was surely added after it became such a hot topic, took most of the life out of the visual. I really enjoyed the anything goes, fun house approach to the show. Can’t say I went crazy for anything. Duane met us on the fifth floor and we were five.

Black On Wood

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

My 2017 6x6s drying in studio

RoCo’s 6×6 deadline is rolling around again. As with everything else I do, I always seem to get a late start. I’ve working with this rough cut lumber the last few years. The wood that I have, stuff Pete and Shelley brought me from a sawmill in the Adirondacks, isn’t wide enough to make up the six so I rip the boards and glue them together.

The last couple of years I went with a 3 to 1 ratio with with the board widths and this year after much contemplation I decided to make them each one half. I deliberately chose a light board to cope with a dark board. This arrangement called for a centered application of the color. You are allowed to submit four pieces and I wanted each to be unique so I plan to have the light portion on the bottom in two, one with black around the perimeter and the other with the black in the center square. I usually mess a few up so I made a few extras.

It has been three days now and the heavy application of Ivory Black oil paint is still wet. Artwork is due 10d 6h 32 35s according to their site.

Real Deal

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Three Shelley nature watercolors in Troy art show at Clement Gallery

Troy is not so far away. On the other side of the Hudson River it’s only three and a half hours. We drive there for Shelley Valachovic’s art opening, “Living with Nature,” at the Clement Art Gallery on Broadway in downtown Troy.

“Troy is comin’ back. and it’s doin’ it on its own.” According to Tom Clement. He and his brother, Ray, run the gallery/frame shop on Broadway near the Soldiers and Sailors monument. Formerly Lucy’s Lunch Counter, the brothers bought the building and moved their father’s camera/frameshop buisness to this prime location years before the Troy Renaissance. They are the nicest guys in the world and big supporters of the arts.

Last night was “Troy Night Out.” The opening was really well attended and sales were brisk. It was treat watching new people discover Shelley’s work. “She is the real deal” according to Jimmy, the owner of the Beat Shop, Troy’s premier record shop.

Shelley showed her watercolors of wildflowers and woods plants and the miniature pine needle baskets she weaves. She even had some of the originals from her her illustrated, “A Year in the Woods” book. The show through April 26.The Clements had this brief bio on their announcement:

“My interest in plants and nature probably originated unsurprisingly from my grammar school days when my family lived on the edge of a suburb, right here in the capital region, surrounded by reclaimed farmland and a whole lot of woods.     
After graduating from New York State University College at Buffalo in 1974, I spent two years studying Printmaking and Photography at the Lake Placid School of Art, which increased my passion for the mountains and outdoor life. For several years thereafter, I traveled in the Colorado Rockies, Texas, Cape Cod, Philadelphia, and New Orleans acquiring a diversity of experience that influenced my work as a printmaker.
In the mid 80’s I returned with Pete to the Adirondacks where we built our first cabin out of hemlock poles and cordwood. Fifteen years later (after the tree fell through and crushed the house) we moved to a more remote spot off the grid and built another cabin much like the first where we now live. We have a wood stove, garden, outhouse, a small solar panel, and catch rain water from the roof.
Since settling in the Adirodacks my focus quickly shifted  from a broad view of changing landscapes to a more intimate study of the woodland plants surrounding us. Changing my media to accommodate this new perspective I now draw  and paint trees, wildflowers, sticks, moss, and all sorts of forest debris in all seasons when and where I find them.

We stayed with Rich and Denise, Troy royalty, and stopped by Jimmy’s record shop on the way out of town. I picked up a double Impulse lp of Chico Hamilton’s Great Hits.

Everything In Its Place

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Jared's ongoing snow installation  in front of our house in Rochester, New York

We visited my mom and left before lunch. We were set on a sandwich and coffee at Mise En Place Market in the South Wedge. We headed for an open table and spotted Pete Monacelli, the unofficial mayor of the South Wedge. He was sitting with my old Empire State art teacher, Kurt Feuerherm, and they invited us to sit with them. Turns out we had walked into his regular Friday “Miss en Place Salon” meeting, a group of local artists. He had invited us to this get together many times and here we were.

There was a brief discussion about what we were currently working on and then the conversation wandered all over the map as a few other artists sat down. Kurt started talking about a methods class he had taken at Albright Knox or Cranbrook where they made their own egg tempura, something about peeling the membrane off an egg yolk. Pete said he buys his off the shelf at Rochester Art Supply. And then “the worst medium” discussion. Everyone was picking on charcoal for all the usual messy reasons, the same reasons I love it. Graphic and unforgiving! I went home and started a charcoal drawing.

Faux News

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Painted wooden windows on Anderson Avenue in Rochester, New York

We had just left Rick Muto’s art studio on Anderson Avenue when these windows caught our eye. Faux windows, I should have said. Someone carefully executed this deceptively simple attraction, dressing up the boarded up warehouse windows in this row of buildings along the tracks in Rochester. We are not usually here in the daylight but have attended many art openings in Axom Gallery’s space on the second floor of this building. It is one of our favorite gallery spaces in the city. Rick, one of Rochester’s premier landscape painters, curates the gallery and also creates faux finishes to order.

Mott’s Town

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Chairs at Peggi and Paul's. Painting by Jim Mott

Margaret Explosion returns to the Little Theater Café for the month of March. But because it is not a leap year our first performance will be on Tuesday, February 28 and the we’ll slide back into our regular Wednesday night slot for the next four Wednesdays. This Tuesday date also happens to be Fat Tuesday, last chance to party down before giving up candy for Lent. Actually, the real reason for the Tuesday gig is the opportunity to perform on the same bill as Jim Mott and Liz Durand. Their month-long art show closes in the coming days and the two artists will present artist’s talks between sets.

Jim is showing 24 paintings from his 2010 Rochester Tour plus along with some of his downtown canvases and Liz has some beautiful recent prints. I’ve talked about Jim’s Itinerant Artist Series before. One of of his stops was in our home where he did the painting above. There are usually four chairs there but Jim was using one for a table for his paints as he stood in our yard painting this picture. There are two or three other paintings that he did here in this show.

Jim Mott, Liz Durand, Margaret Explosion Artist Talk/Performance. Tuesday, February 28th at the Little Theatre Café. 7-9pm. Admission is free.

Mas Pax

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Light Spill, an installation by Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

Saturday night’s opening for Meleko Mokgosi’s installation of large paintings from his Pax Kaffraria series was a happening affair. His knockout paintings tell the complicated story of Colonial Africa. I’m hoping his artist’s talk at 7 p.m. on Thursday February 23 will tie the pieces together and I’m looking forward to revisiting the show without the people.

The bands for the opening were great – the young Julian Garvue trio in the Atrium and the professional funk band Shine in the auditorium.

There are always plenty of reasons to visit the MAG but this is an especially good time. Robert Rauschenberg’s silkscreen prints from his “Making History” series are on display in the Lockhart Gallery. Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder’s installation/sculpture/mechanical performance piece, “Light Spill,” is on view in the Media Arts gallery. It is in its active state for 60 seconds every 30 minutes on the 1/2 hour. And the Brown Hound Bistro is serving the best green salad we’ve had in a long time.

Doll House

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Louise Bourgeois Holograms at Cheim & Read NYC

In a dimly lit space, eight small holograms cast a mysterious red glow. The diorama-like images — a little-known body of work produced by Louise Bourgeois in 1998 feature familiar motifs from the French artist’s lexicon. Chairs, beds, and bell jars seem to float just in front of the frames, the ghostly 3-D effect rendering her assemblages more nightmarish than usual. A sculpture rests on the floor in the middle of the room: a dollsize bed and two pairs of disembodied feet, which are entwined like lovers’. It offsets the intimate scale of the other vignettes, while echoing the very Bourgeoisian psychosexual situation of one of them, in which the artist positions the viewer as a voyeur, crouching dangerously close to the action at the foot of the bed. This was our favorite show of the day, a day devoted to wandering without an agenda back and forth on the streets of Chelsea from 18th to 26th Streets between 9th and 10th Avenues.

The Aline Kominsky-Crumb & Robert Crumb “Drawn Together” show at David Zwirner was fantastic but we didn’t hang around long. The work is just as fantastic on the page and seemed like a waste on white walls. Steve Wolfe, in a show called “Remembering Steve,” copied iconic books and records (iconic to our generation) like the Pocket Poets Series edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” 45, the John Cage book “Silence” and Kerouac’s “On The Road.” These actual size reproductions looked almost exactly like the real item. Willys de Castro, on West 24th Street, painted small, playful abstracts, some three dimensional. I would have taken one of these home if the price was right.

Art Romp

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Meleko Mokgosi drawing from Democracy at RoCo

I am not a “process” guy. I like looking at visual art without being setup. And I don’t find talk of “process” very interesting after the looking. One eighth of Meleko Mokgosi’s “Pax Kaffraria” panels is currently on view at Rochester Contemporary. The artist was present at the opening last night and I overheard a gay ask him how he gins. “Where do you get your ideas?” Mokgosi said he begins his work with the title. The show is being jointly hosted by the MAG and RoCo. The MAG’s director, Jonathan Binstock, was there last night and he told us they were unable to to find a facility in Rochester big enough to display the eighth panel. They actually found a place downtown that was big enough but the doors to the place were not big enough to get the package in. Considering how big his paintings are it was surprising to hear the title came first.

The show is sensational. Mokgosi is also showing some drawings at RoCo, the first time he has shown his drawings and I like the drawings best. Especially the one above. The Botswana-born artist’s figures are life size and they are usually pushed to the front of the picture plane, almost like the figures painted on the wall of the building in his black and white drawing above. His drawing technique is a tour de force.

Micheal Harris “Works on Paper” also opened last night in the Lab Space and Michael told me he nodded to my work with one of his pieces called, “Open and Shut.” The mono print included three small mugshots from the Sunday paper. 180 degrees from Mokgosi’s method of starting with the tile, Micheal explores a longstanding attraction to unconscious ideas. He takes his work to a poet friend and she names them. “Open and Shut” and “Disturbances in A Minor” were two of my favorites.

Kurt Moyer has a great new show at Axom. Mostly landscapes from the woods near his home in Mendon but also some more of the Arcadia paintings that he showed at Axom a few years back. I love those and I love the look and feel of his paint. There is only one word for it. Lucious.

We finished our gallery hop with Kathy Farrell’s show in Colleen Hendrick’s space. Looking at Kathy’s show was the most fun we had all night. Her yoga block abstracts are mini worlds where all is right.

Art Show

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Ski path along the western bank of Eastman Lake in Durand Eastman Park

We skied up to the lake this morning and the conditions were prefect. Just enough fresh snowfall to refresh the trails. Along the way I kept thinking, “what can we do?”

I keep hearing that now is the time to get active. See something, say something. Peggi went to a meeting at the Universalist Church downtown, something sponsored by Metro Justice, and she took notes but she was really surprised that people there, representatives of politically active groups, had no practical first steps that lay people can take now. So we’re left to stew. And the stewing is unhealthy. Our friend, Pete, stopped by for a visit this afternoon and he told us he was at his doctors and someone mentioned Trump and his blood pressure soared. I simple change of thoughts brought it back down where it belonged.

We drank coffee and talked about art and eventually wound up looking at the pile of watercolors my father did. I took a painting class with him for twenty years and so many of them were worked on in class. Constructions, corrections, emphasis and direction were all worked out in the open and now I have the privilege of revisiting that, of learning by looking, again. I’ve am almost finished photographing and cataloging them and have decided to organize a show of them somewhere. They aren’t for sale so it would have to be a not for profit space. They are beautiful as paintings and a marvel of draughtsmanship but I think they would be of real interest to anyone who who has lived here for some time.

My father loved to get out with his paints. He’d bundle up and sit down near a construction site, moving closer and closer as the crews got to know him. He was featured in the paper when the Can of Worms was being being rebuilt. Bausch & Lomb bought a bunch of the paintings he did outside their headquarters when it was being built downtown. The construction of the O’Rorke Bridge and the new Freddy Sue are thoroughly documented. The Charlotte lighthouse held a special fascination with him and he painted it many times each time quite differently. I plan to get them all online soon and I will find some place to show them.

Ultimate Compliment

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Leo Dodd and Fred Lipp in Advanced Painting class at the Creative Workshop in Rochester, New York

I had to tell my mother again that her mother had died. She asked me where her mother was. She cried again. My mother was always very direct and she would not want me to lie to her even though she is suffering from dementia. I showed her a few photos of her mother and she liked them but she wasn’t sure who the baby was in this one.

My father started taking Fred Lipp’s painting class with me in 1995. My father called it “therapy” and there were many rough exchanges. Neither one of them were direct and they didn’t know what each other was talking about for the longest time. My father who was immensely talented had some rules that lived by. Fred claimed he could break any rule he wanted. He trusted his eye and his eye, developed by trust, was immensely talented. It took a some time for their relationship to mature and I was privileged to watch the whole thing develop.

I photographed my father’s paintings every four or five years and put them on his website. When he died last year I brought a huge pile of them here and I’ve been working my way through them. It is a huge project but I’ll eventually have them all on line. Fred helped my father a lot. I can spot the before and afters butFred help everybody – if they were open to being helped. Surprisingly some people would take the class who did not want to budge. Fred claimed his students helped him more than he helped us but I didn’t buy it. On Fred’s death bed he told me, “You’re father is a trip.” We both laughed at this ultimate compliment.

En Plein Air

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Bay bridge from Avondale Road in Autumn

We walked up to Wegman’s and stopped by our bank to get some cash. We bought a Ritual Trio cd last night and that cleaned me out. We are not yet living in a cashless society but we are headed there. We needed basil for an Asian soup recipe but when we got home we discovered we needed broth as well so Peggi made another trip. I continued my ongoing project of photographing the watercolors that my father left in his flat file cabinet, the flat file cabinet that is sitting right behind me as I write this. This scene above, from a walk the other day, is something my father would have painted. I’d like to try that, “en plein air.”

On First Friday we stopped by Axom Gallery and looked at their new show. We bought a owl from their home furnishings section. Robin Muto runs that. And while we stood in line to pay Peggi asked if they owned the adjacent loft space. Robin told us that was Rick’s space. She said they call it “the abyss.” We had to see that. Rick showed us a wall of en plein air paintings that he had done and they were beautiful, much nicer than this photo above.

Completely Seperate

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Eggplants, Tomatoes and lettuce from the garden in October

I set both the clock radio alarm and the one on Peggi’s iPhone to ensure a 7:30 awakening. Pete Monacelli had asked me to talk to his commercial art class at Monroe Community College. Pete is a fine artist and carpenter as well as a teacher and he told me he thought his class would be interested in what I had to say about the connection between fine art and commercial art. How do you make both work?

I pulled into the parking lot on time but I wandered around campus before I found the art department and then I had trouble finding his room until I heard his vice and his unmistakable laugh. The kids, most just under twenty or so, were pretty unruly and all talking among themselves when I walked in. Pete introduced me and I started by saying I don’t have the strongest voice and Pete jumped in in with, “So shut the hell up.”

Pete had a computer connected to a projector so I planned on working from the links on my Popwars homepage. I called up a slideshow of some recent photos and talked over that about my background. I dropped out of school when I was about their age (around the same time my friend, Dave Mahoney, dropped out of this very school). I fooled around for a few years, met my wife, worked construction framing houses, came home exhausted, had to find an easier job and started doing commercial art at ad agencies. I worked at one for five years and noticed that the free lancers, who were hired when we got too busy or took on a new client, were getting paid more than me. So I started freelancing for almost every agency in town and slowly collected work that I could do at home. The Mac II came out, enabling us to set type output film, my wife quit her teaching job and I never left the house again. Some twenty-five years later we retired.

I interrupted the slideshow at this point and showed them some of the logos I did over the years for some of the companies we worked for and talked about the business cards, brochures and websites that went along with the log. I took a quick detour into how to get paid. Make sure you do a simple proposal acceptance form before you start a job and get the client to sign it, preferably with half down to begin. I told them the logos were fun, the work was fun but the most fun was doing my own stuff which I keep completely separate from the commercial work.

I brought up some of paintings and told them how I liked painting the local wanted guys. The room came alive when I clicked on my source material. I showed them some paintings of priests and the basketball players and they really reacted to this drawing from the silent film, “Passion of Saint Joan.”

I was going to mention my blog but I forgot. I finished with my Funky Signs site and they loved that. I was thrilled. There were questions throughout and plenty of students came up to talk after class. School seemed a lot more interesting than it did in my day.