Meditation On The Mugshot

October 23rd, 2017

Three "Models From Crime Page" paintings 1999, 2009, 2008 by Paul Dodd from "Witness" show at Rochester Contemporary through November 12, 2017

Peggi and I stopped by Rochester Contemporary to take some pictures of the show. I brought my tripod and set the timer to ensure the shots would be in focus. I was prepared to use the incandescent or florescent setting on my camera but the cast from RoCo’s’ led lights looked most natural in the auto mode. Peggi took a movie of the show, walking from front to back, panning slowly along each of the walls in and out of the round video room, sound the display case and back up to the front. I’ll post that here when she gets it edited.

For me the best thing about the show is the freedom it gives me to move beyond it. I will surly revisit the theme, my “meditation on the mugshot” as Bleu calls it. I keep coming back. But for now I am moving on. Have you seen the most recent Crimestopper page?

Middle Finger

October 22nd, 2017

Renée Valenti in Main Street Arts studio, Cliffton Springs

Clifton Springs is a hike. Any place you have to take the Thruway for is a hike. It’s really only 35 minutes away and it is worth the drive. It is one of the most well preserved old New York towns you’ll find. We were there for the opening of “Sacred Curiosities,” a group show of Rochester area artists at Main Street Arts. Martha O’Conner has about thirty of her exquisite, mostly clay small abstract figures in the show. Two were sold by the time we got there. This is a beautiful gallery space and there is a great restaurant across the street when the gallery closes.

But we drove a short distance to Manchester and had a “Middle Finger Lakes IPA” at Reinvention Brewery. This place is like a small town Irish pub, warm and friendly, a family style beer hall. Painter, Renée Valenti, is doing a month long residency in one of the upstairs studios at Main Street Arts. She had a piece in the recent Whitney Biennial. I really loved her paintings. She told me she had been doing figurative work but had recently started painting abstractly with flesh tones and charcoal. I spent the way home thinking about her work.

Tower of Babel

October 20th, 2017

Jared taking a tree down on pool property

Our friend, Pete, was trying to install an update on his iPad and he got part way into the install but couldn’t remember his password. Someone at MCC, where he teaches, tried to bail him out and they restored the iPad to its factory state. But Pete had never turned on his iCloud backup and wasn’t able to retrieve anything. Five years of photos and sketches from SketchBook Pro. I tried to help him get some music on the iPad tonight but his wife had already synced the iPad with her pc so I couldn’t get Pete’s Mac to connect to the iPad. So I went back to the pc and dragged some songs out her Windows Media Player into her iTunes so I could get them n the Pad. As I did each song came up with a little message that said it was converting the files from .wma to .acc. It’s like the Tower of Babel.

Peggi and I tried helping Jeff earlier in the week. He had a related problem. ITunes on his PowerBook would not launch anymore. It froze when he was trying to Restore his father’s iPad. I reinstalled iTunes on his PowerBook and reacquainted it with his media files but it wasn’t easy because Jeff couldn’t remember his admin password. Meanwhile Peggi got on the phone with Spectrum to see an operator would give her Jeff’s father’s password for his email account so we could set up his restored iPad. The operator had Jeff’s father’s password hints on file and she asked Peggi what his favorite song was. Jeff called his father and asked him what his favorite song was. He thought for a minute and said, “the Star Spangled Banner.” Peggi said “Star Spangled Banner” to the operator and she said “No.” We all laughed and the operator told us what the right answer was. “Summertime.”

Harmonica Johnny Is Dead

October 19th, 2017

Harmonica Johnny's basement bar

We were on bikes headed to Staples and eventually Starbucks and we were only a block from home when we stopped at a garage sale. Someone the neighbors called “Harmonica Johnny” lived in the house but we hadn’t seen him in a long time. Sure enough, we learned Harmonica Johnny had died. His sons were selling the stuff and there wasn’t much to look at. I went through the stack of lps on the basement bar (shown above) but most were cornball 1950’s harmonica records. As I walked away from the stack one of his sons said, “You didn’t find any rock ‘n roll records in there did you?” I laughed and he said “I found a Black Sabbath album in there.” I said “And it was probably yours.” He said it was.

He told me he played drums and his brother played guitar and they used to play in a band with their father. “Mostly Ukrainian weddings.”


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.