Archive for the ‘Notes On Painting’ Category

Bug Mug

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Margaret Explosion live at the Bug Jar 1998. Jack Schaefer - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums, Peggi Fournier - sax, Pete LaBonne - bass.

Our band, Margaret Explosion, played a Friday Happy Hour gig at the Bug Jar for two years in the late nineties. The band at that time was Jack Schaefer on guitar, Peggi on sax, me on drums and Pete LaBonne on bass. We eventually recorded a cd with this lineup but because Peggi and I were playing with a different Margaret Explosion lineup we called the band on the cd “Invisible Idiot.”

Casey, the Bug Jar owner and bartender, brought in vegetarian food from the India House and Rolling Rock beer was a dollar a bottle. One night, before the band began, I set up a stool, a light and white canvas background in the back room and asked whoever was there if they would like to sit for a photo. I remember not calling it a “mugshot” so that aspect wasn’t overplayed but the setting dictated the pose. I’m thinking about putting some of those prints in the show at RoC.

I was using a one megapixel Kodak DC210 camera that my father bought for me at the Kodak employee camera shop. I brought home about thirty photos that night and took them into Photoshop where I converted them into black & white bitmap photos with a pronounced dot pattern. I created Quark documents to scale and printed tiled pages on our laser printer. The print-outs were shown in the Bug Jar later that year.

Margaret Explosion as Invisible Idiot – “Abstract Express”
Margaret Explosion – Abstract Express


Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Boat coming in to Charlotte Harbor from Jetty Restaurant

I can’t believe how much work is involved with organizing a show. It turns out creating the work that goes on display isn’t even half of it. You have to sort the good from the bad (a moving target) and coordinate your choices with the gallery director. And to promote the show you need photographs of the work and then those images need to posted on the website for the virtual presentation. That could take a few days.

Of course there are the space considerations and the arrangement of the pieces within that space. The show needs a name and then a short amount of copy for a blurb. And the artist statement! Was it always like this? Did we always have bios and post cards and wall tags to explain the art?

But I am not going to let this ruin the summer. We drove north as far as we could in this part of the country and had dinner at the Jetty, the restaurant in the old Fast Ferry terminal.

Pete LaBonne – Artist’s Statement

White Gloves

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Green forties car In Four Mile Creek Preserve in Webster, New York

We spent the afternoon in Webster where my brother, Fran, lives. He wasn’t home. He was working like he does everyday unless it rains. We stopped at the farm stand on his road and bought a dozen ears of corn. I wanted to make sure it was the right farm stand so I asked the lady behind the counter if this was where Fran bought his corn. She said “I knew you looked familiar. Fran lives on corn. He’s a real hoot.”

We were out here to pick up a few of my father’s paintings and to go through my father’s repository which is temporarily being stored in a spare bedroom in his home, my sister’s old room.

In preparation for the upcoming Rochester Biennial Peggi and I have been culling my father’s paintings. We have a few hundred on Leo’s website but there is only enough room for thirty in the show. The final decision as to which ones to use is up to the curator but we are making sure we can get our hands on the actual paintings in case they are selected.

There is a book shelf that fills a whole wall in this bedroom and it is stocked from floor to ceiling with Leo’s sketchbooks. We went through half and took a walk in the woods across the street from Fran’s house. That’s where we came across this old car. We’re hoping to make some of the sketchbooks available during the show. Maybe one of those white glove scenarios.

Show Needs A Title

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Me and Bleu Cease in my studio preparing for the RoCo's October Biennial

I had this date on my calendar for a long time. In fact I had a 3 page document on my iPad with notes for the meeting. But mostly I’ve been working on a batch of new drawings for this show – the subject of our meeting – the Rochester Biennial. MAG used to host the show with six upstate artists featured but they have given the concept and name to RoCo, Visual Studies Worksop and R Gallery. Each of those three places will feature two artists and RoCo picked one living and one dead, me and my father, Leo Dodd. On the surface the work is very different but the impulses are the same. The contrast is a quality.

I had just finished photographing twenty new drawings before our meeting. I had Duane’s light gear out, four Totas, and my tripod. I found the display on the back of my camera is easily twice as bright when its plugged in. It was so readable I kept finding that I would spot problems while viewing my drawings at that tiny scale. I know some people use a reducing lens for that.

Bleu, the gallery director, wants to show Leo’s Rochester paintings and he wants to show an overview of my ongoing “Models from Crime Page” project (Rochester faces). I showed him my Bug Jar Mugshots and he liked them so I’ll show ten of those. Bleu pulled these oil paintings out of a pile and chose a few triptychs as possibilities. I’m most excited about some new paintings that I’m working on.

Crystal Blue Persuasion

Monday, July 24th, 2017

View from Thomas Schutte Crystal at The Clark

The Clark in Williamstown, just down the road from Mass MoCA, is a jewel of a museum. We spent the night nearby after touring Mass MoCA and we thought we’d visit the place before heading home. We weren’t prepared for how substantial the collection was or how beautiful the grounds and buildings are. What is this place doing in the middle of the Berkshire Mountains?

The featured exhibition here is “Picasso: Encounters,” thirty-five Picasso prints and three paintings, including the Clark’s rare impression of The Frugal Repast (1904) and Ecce Homo, after Rembrandt (1970), made just three years before his death.

One of the coolest pieces in their collection is up on a hill outside the museum buildings. You can get to Thomas Schütte’s “Crystal” by taking a path through the woods from the building that is currently housing Helen Frankenthaler’s beautiful large abstracts. Once inside the Crystal I starting thinking of Tommy James, not his real name, and this song.

Wall Therapy

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Sol Lewitt wall drawing at Mass MoCA

Sol LeWitt would kick ass if one of his wall drawings was executed here. We set the alarm and took off early for the Berkshires. They happen pretty quickly after Troy so we had most of the day to wander around Mass MoCA. We walked through the Nick Cave installation and started our tour proper with nine of James Turrell’s pieces. Not really light art, as he says, but art about perception. We had reservations for a view of his “Perfectly Clear.” I could have stayed in there all day but we were only allowed nine minutes.

Sol LeWitt has three floors of wall drawings in one of the giant industrial buildings, buildings that used to house Arnold Print Works, a company that specialized in printing cloth. They supplied uniforms to the Union soldiers during the Civil War. You don’t just look at Sol Lewitt pieces. You digest the concept that led to its creation. We spent hours here but didn’t have time for it all.

We saved the last hour of the day for Anselm Kiefer, on view here through 2028. His monumental nautical paintings, “Velimir Khlebnikov,” take up a whole building and we were the only ones, other than the guard, in it. Like DIA Beacon this old industrial complex makes an ideal setting for viewing art. The experience will change you.

Follow Up

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Pig roasting on the beach July 4th at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

“A relaxed mind is a creative mind.” So my Yogi tea bag read tonight. I don’t know about that. When I’m relaxed I don’t seem to get anything done. But instead of dismissing this fortune I plan to take it for a spin.

I’ve been preparing for an art show and I’ve been pushing it. I’ve been preparing the coffee maker before we go to bed so all I have to do is push the button in the morning. I’m down there drawing before I am awake. And I stop only when I’m nearly exhausted. I’m going to start relaxing and I will report back.

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.