Intolerable

June 18th, 2017

Garth Fagan reading poetry in front of Sol Lewitt prints at R1 Studio in Rochester, New York

“Poetry is an embarrassing affair. It is born too near the functions we call intimate.” That line is from Czeslaw Milosz‘s “Road-side Dog.” Milosz’s writing is not precious enough to be called poetry. It lies somewhere between poetry and prose. It is economical. He is not afraid to be simple or advance dumb ideas. And yet he effortlessly uncovers essential truths. His writing shares the properties of minimal art but it is also emotional.

Louise thought I would like his writing and I do. I was planning on returning her book when we met at a poetry reading on Friday night so I re-read most of it while we sat by the pool. It was too nice an evening to go in, that and she suspected the event, the last of a series of tie-ins with the Minimal Mostly show at R1, this one chosen poetry read by local luminaries, might just be “intolerable.” We were there for a half hour or so and it was delightful. But not even close to Milosz.

In a Landscape
In a landscape that is nearly totally urban, just by the freeway, a pond rushes, a wild duck, small trees. Those who pass on the road feel at that sight a kind of relief, though they would not be able to name it.
Czeslaw Milosz

Carrying On

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.

Where Is Everybody?

June 14th, 2017

Dog mailbox on Rock Beach Road, Rochester NY

Our roof is relatively flat. I think it might be a 2 12. It is definitely not a 3 12. So it collects a lot of debris. I usually get up there every spring and blow it off but I’ve been putting it off this year. Always some excuse. I do like putting my Home Depot noise cancelling headphones on though so I climbed up there this afternoon.

I was just finishing up on the far end of the house and I gave the leaf blower one last tug. I heard a crash and realized I had knocked the ladder over with the extension cord. Peggi had gone down to the street pool. We’re on duty this week so it is our responsibility to keep it clean. Like everything else this job’s done by a robot now so all she had to do was drop it in and the thing crawls around on the bottom and sucks up everything in its way. I figured she would be back soon.

I tried pinging Peggi’s phone with my watch but the phone was in the house below. Our neighborhood was awfully quiet. About forty five minutes went by and was getting anxious so I tried lassoing the step ladder with the extension cord. After fifteen minutes or so I had it standing up. I climbed down and walked down the street to the pool where I found Peggi and a neighbor trying to repair a leak in one of the pipes in our pump.

Musique Non Stop

June 12th, 2017

Michael Bates Trio wth Michael Blake at Bop Shop

It seems like just a week ago we were listening to David Murray and Kahil El Zabar playing in the Bop Shop performance space. And we were back there last night for the Michael Bates Trio. We catch Kahil every time he comes through town and he always has a band with players of the highest order. There has been so much music going on lately we probably would have skipped last night’s Michael Bates Trio but Michael Blake was in the band and we hadn’t heard him since 2008. The trio was fantastic and I’m so glad we didn’t stay home. Blake is for real, a great player with the finest influences making his own contribution in real time. He brings his funk band, Red Hook Soul, to the Jazz Fest this year and he is prepared to tear it up.

Drummer, Jeremy Clemons, was wearing a t-shirt that read, “POOF. Lead a Creative Life.” I’m down with that. We talked to him after the show about another of his gigs. He’s played with Burning Spear for the last three years.

Between those gigs we saw Chandler Travis Philharmonic at Little Theatre 1. Pete LaBonne has played with them and they do some of Pete’s songs. They came through for us this time, It was interesting to hear how their new drummer, Jerome Dupree, Morphine’s old drummer, takes Rikki Bates place. Funny how different the two feels are. And heard Annie Wells at her record release party, halfway around the world, out at the Lovin’ Cup. She sounded great. her delicate voice and a rock solid backup. She still brings the house down with Dave Ripton’s “Heroin and People.” Woody Dodge followed Annie and they are a real powerhouse of Americana. Bill Lambert writes songs that should be hits but I couldn’t take my eyes off their drummer, Sean Sullivan. Is he left handed playing a right handed set or is he just so fluid he can play any damn way he wants?

Brilliant Distillation

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.

Gideon Cobb Days

June 10th, 2017

Sandy Franklel accepting Leo Dodd Historic Preservation Award at Gideon Cobb days in Brighton, New York

My father was one of the founding members of Historic Brighton and during his time as president he came up with the idea of celebrating Gideon Cobb, an early pioneer and brick maker. Gideon Cobb Day was usually celebrated with a lunch at Mario’s and, of course, Cobb Salad was on the menu. My cousin, Ray Tierney is on the board now and he has renewed the celebration.

We gathered yesterday in a tent behind the Buckland House, an early farmstead home on Westfall Road that was preserved through the efforts of Historic Brighton. The supervisor of Brighton was there and many of the club members and Jerry Ludwig, the guy who writes the home improvement column in Saturday’s paper. My family was there as well because Historic Brighton has decided to give an annual “Leo Dodd Historic Preservation Award” award to someone in the community who worked toward those ends. This year’s recipient was Sandra Frankel and Ray asked if I would say something about Leo.

I talked about how my father was into photography, painting, engineering, history, genealogy and family and how these interests all overlapped. He painted portraits of these early Brighton residents when no photos existed and he reconstructed the brick making kilns and factories in a CAD drawing program. He was able to bring history to life. And he shared his enthusiasm. This made Brighton a better town.

Peggi and I provided technical support with the websites, newsletters, presentations and his Brighton Brick book production. Historic Brighton made us honorary members and that is nice but what Historic Brighton needs is someone with the desire to dig through the past, willing to attend the meetings, lobby the politicians to preserve the remnants, someone who likes taking pictures and illustrating a story and someone who likes to share what they have found. They need someone as enthusiastic as my father was.

Immobilize

June 9th, 2017

Carmen Herrera Series at Deborah Ronnen's

We came out of the lecture at R1 Studio on Wednesday night and I couldn’t get the car started. The key wouldn’t turn. I had parked in a funny position. It really wasn’t a parking space at all and my wheels were turned almost as much as they would go. Had I kicked in Honda’s Anti-Theft system? We were planning on heading downtown to catch the Occasional Saints at the Little.

I googled “key won’t turn 2003 Honda Element” and learned Hondas were the most stolen car about fifteen years ago so they came up with the “Immobilizer” if the car sensed something suspicious. Someone suggested turning the wheel while trying the key. I did that and the steering wheel locked with a clunk. I couldn’t budge it. Someone else suggested waiting an hour and then trying. We sat in the car with our devices and tried again. I called my sister. She was already in her pajamas but rescued us.

We towed it to Honda in the morning and they put a new ignition. Some 700 dollars later we have one key to get in the car and another for the ignition.

B. O. B.

June 7th, 2017

Bob Martin close-up from Personal Effects "90 Days in the Planetarium"

At the end of every song last night the chanting started up. Maybe it was the three big, white, cardboard cut-out letters hanging over the piano like one of Calder’s mobiles. It was Bob’s last night with the band. He is moving to Chicago and we will miss him.

Peggi and I have played with Bob for a long time. He answered a call for a guitar player back in the early eighties. We had just disbanded Hi-Techs and were forming Personal Effects and he came down to our rehearsal space. It was scary how quickly he picked up on what we were trying to do. Scary like we were left wondering if he was too good for us.

We played together for five years, five albums or so, and then Bob moved to DC. When he returned we were playing in an early version of Margaret Explosion. He sat in with us at the Bug Jar and the next thing you know he was back in the band. We’ve been playing at the Little Theatre for fifteen years now. But nothing lasts forever.

Bob has developed an incredibly rich guitar palette. He will be irreplaceable and that is the mark of a true artist. That’s why the audience last night chanted “Bob, Bob, Bob.” I joined in.

Margaret Explosion - Bar Car

Margaret Explosion – Bar Car

Minimalism Is In The Air

June 5th, 2017

Daily Mirror headline for Tate purchase of Carl Andre piece from Minimal Mostly lecture slideshow at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

Cathleen Chaffee, Senior Curator at Albright Knox Art Gallery, gave a lecture at the Memorial Art Gallery on Sunday afternoon on the topic of minimal art. Although the minimal aesthetic is easily applied to most art-making she concentrated on 1960 to the present, artists like Robert Ryman, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin and Dan Flavin. But she started back in the 1800s with a French woman who did illustrations of an all white painting, an all green painting and an all black painting. That joke about a blank canvas being a painting of a polar bear in a snowstorm has been around awhile.

1914 was to be a pivotal year with Marcel DuChamp the master, Kazimir Malevich making some of their strongest work. Ad Reinhardt and Rauschenberg did solid color paintings in the fifties as they fought their way out of Ab Ex. And John Cage’s silent “4:33″ piece was a response to that. Art does not exist in a vacuum.

This lecture was in conjunction with Deborah Ronnen’s sensational “Minimal Mostly” show at R1 Studios on University Avenue. Her show features some of these same artists along with Ellsworth Kelly, Annie and Josef Albert, Carmen Herrera and Frank Stella. The pop-up show is up til the end of June so do yourself a favor and find some time to visit it.

PDA

June 3rd, 2017

Two geese and four baby geese on Durand Lake

I never expected to fall apart when I read the first line of my mom’s remembrance (see previous post) yesterday. I think what happened was I actually conjured up that sensation, much more vividly than when I wrote the line. In that moment, I felt like I was back in my mother’s arms and I was overcome with emotion. A good thing.

I was knocked out by my siblings’ tributes and the sum total was an overwhelming testimony to our mom’s virtues.

Two of my mom’s cousins on the Tierney side spoke, both of whom grew up with my mom in the same Rosewood Terrace neighborhood. Joe O’Keefe told me a story about their common grandmother, a Kelly who left Dublin on a ship bound for New York as a caretaker of an elderly man. She was supposed to return but she fell in love with a Walsh. They married as soon as they landed but only on the condition that Walsh drop his affiliation with the Church of England and get right with Catholicism.

During the ceremony Joe described my mom as somewhere between Erma Bombeck and a saint. On his way out the door he told me they used to hold these teen dances all over the city and kids would usually go without dates. He said he always made sure he danced with my mom and said he was determined to find a Mercy girl like my mom. And he did, my mom’s good friend, Ginny.

Both Gone

June 1st, 2017

Leo and Mary Dodd circa 1949

I should have this memorized so I don’t have to read from my notes at my mom’s service tomorrow. But I don’t.

When you’re young there is no safer place than in your mother’s arms. You learn that when things get weird you can always return to your mom. I first met my mom in 1950. Everything was brand new for me but I had a sense that everything was brand new for her as well. There was an air of experimentation in our home and I watched this play out as our family grew. Teachers come and go but your mom is on a higher rung. You learn from your mom how to make your way in the world. When she had enough of our nonsense she would say, “Go out and play.” That was the best advice she ever gave me.

My mom was very aware. She had keen observational skills and a fashion sense that she shared with us all. I was the only one in my Confirmation class with a striped sport coat. A few years ago my father and I did an event at the Brighton Town Hall where we drew quick portraits of people. My mother surprised me by looking over my shoulder and making suggestions that were right on.

Mary was not shy about expressing how she felt about something even if it went against the popular grain. This was jarring to me at first but I grew to admire her for that streak. We argued plenty and she was a formidable opponent. In the process she taught me to think for myself and she gave me the confidence to leave home.

Mary was a devout Catholic but grew frustrated with the church and would say “I wish they would stop praying and do something.” To a college demonstrator my mom’s peace flag seemed like a benign protest. But when a neighbor demanded that she take it down because her son, my friend Tom, was fighting in Vietnam, I witnessed my mom hold her ground in a real world situation.

The nurturing caregiver relationship slowly flipped over time. Yet Mary faced her decline with determined dignity. And she shared with us the gift of spending time with her fellow members in the Friendly Home’s Memory Care center.

I will always feel lucky to be Mary’s son.

Beginners

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.”

Circular Saw

May 30th, 2017

Circular plywood pattern and compass

I have a circular saw and I used it to cut out this round piece of plywood but what I really could have used is a saw that cuts circles, like a jigsaw or maybe a band saw. We have these big flower pots out back and rather than fill them with top soil I decided to “short shelf” them. That’s a grocery store term. I broke this stick and jammed it down the pot until it stuck to both sides and then brought the stick in the garage to measure the diameter of the circles. Then I split the distance and pounded a nail in the center. I tied some string around my pen and the other end around the nail and swung my circumference. And then in a series of short cuts I whacked out the circles with my circular saw.

Foxes

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.

Civilization Begins Tonight

May 24th, 2017

Photo for Margaret Explosion gate-fold cd "Civilization"

Not just another Wednesday night at the Little Café. We plan to project movies behind the band. That is, if we can locate the Little Theater’s screen. If we can’t, we’ll project the movies on the wall and the band. There’ll be a light show. Or maybe we’ll just turn the lights out and play in the dark. Wednesday, May 24 7-9pm. Free Admission. ALSO: Just announced! Special Guest Pete LaBonne will be joining the band tonight on the grand piano. Hope you can make it out.

Here’s Frank DeBlase’s review from City Paper
“Margaret Explosion seems to pull songs out of the air. No pre-planning; no script. The music plays them, and what’s left is a perfect in-the-moment moment for this purely live band playing songs we’ll never hear again. It is sexy and cool to the max. And just remember: “sensuous” wasn’t reserved just for the loins.

On “Civilization,” however, Margaret Explosion had a little studio fun. The basic tracks are still improvised, but they’re left open at one end to make room for another set of layers. There’s stereophonic panning so severe in spots you may fall out of your chair. And the guitar is prominent as the soprano sax snakes and undulates through. It’s trippy in the extreme. It’s darkness at the end of the tunnel. It’s heady, and it’s beautiful. Adding to the finality, the band has announced that guitarist Bob Martin is leaving the group and Rochester, for that matter. It’s quite a loss — ironic, really. It’s an end for a band that played songs with no end. “Civilization” is now that end.”

Peace Through Understanding

May 23rd, 2017

Mark, Ann and Paul Dodd on front steps at 68 Brookfield Road in Rochester New York

After the Rauschenberg show at MoMA we stopped in an Irish bar. I ordered a Guinness and Peggi had a Bass Ale. There was a group of English tourists at the table next to us and a couple of them were wearing Manchester United gear. I thought it was interesting that they were all drinking bottles of Bud. I asked one of the guys if they liked Budweiser and he told us they didn’t didn’t like American lagers and the Guinness was better at home. They were from Manchester and they had been celebrating United’s 2-0 victory earlier in the day. I’m thinking about them now in wake of that explosion in their home town.

My sister, Ann, rode down to New York and back with us. She stayed at my brother Mark’s place in New Jersey and we met up with her each night in the city. She went to Kinky Boots with my brother and our niece took her shopping. She had a ball.

This New York trip with her two older brothers was long overdue. Father left her behind when he took the two of us down for the ’64 World’s Fair. The theme was “Peace Through Understanding.” We slept in the car in parking lot and we had a ball back then. Fifty some years later I’m so happy for her.

Small Dreams

May 22nd, 2017

Looking east from the northern end of the High Line in Manhattan

Duane was up before us this morning and had already left the apartment. I sat down to read one of his art books and he walked in with fresh bagels. We gabbed for another couple of hours and headed off on the F train.

From the train I could barely read the yellow sign pinned to the IDT Energy building in Newark. The tall building, right next to Audible.com, has very few windows and the top ten floors are covered with a huge American flag. Curious as to whether the yellow sign was also making a political statement I looked for a picture of it online. I found one. The sign reads, “America is too great for small dreams – Ronald Reagan.” What kind of bullshit is that?

We picked up our car at brother’s place and hit the road for Homer. The coffee shop there is half way and an oasis. We drove up the eastern shore of Skaneateles Lake and had a fish fry at Doug’s. As we crossed over a bridge near Montezuma’s Wildlife Refuge there was a large turtle in the middle of the road. We straddled it with our tires and and Peggi suggested going back. There were more cars behind us and we didn’t but I hope she/he made it.

More Minimal Maximal

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.

Malibu Spice

May 20th, 2017

Blue sail boat washed up at Sea Breeze in high water

We spent the night at my brother Mark’s place in New Jersey and we intended to get a good night sleep but we sat around talking until early this morning. We brought my sister Ann down with us. She had arranged to get time off from her job at Parkleigh a long time ago and just wanted to get down to New York. She is still steamed that my father drove Mark and me down here to see the World’s Fair in ’64. We slept in the car on that trip and Ann stayed home with my mom and my four other siblings.

We had plans to meet Duane in Chelsea at 10AM. We were anxious to to see the show of Ellsworth Kelly’s last paintings at Matthew Marks Gallery. I was up before Peggi. Mark made eggs over easy for me before he headed off to work and when Peggi got up she scrambled some eggs. They tasted gritty and she had Mark taste them. Mark asked what she put in them and Peggi said “just some salt and pepper.” Mark realized that she must have used the salt shaker that sits above the stove, the one his wife’s best friend brought back from California from a restaurant they used to go to when they lived there, the one that was filled with sand from the beach they used to go to.

Thoroughly Therapudic

May 19th, 2017

Garage door lit near Deborah Ronnen's R1 Studios in Rochester, New York

Margaret Explosion had a gig the day my dad died. I had been up most of that night and barely had the strength to play two sets but I remember it being good night, musically. And I remember being almost overcome with emotion during one particularly melancholy song. My mom died on Wednesday and we had a gig that night as well. It was thoroughly theropedic.

There was someone at table near the band who appeared to be studying us. He was wearing a Dan Eaton Band t-shirt and I guessed he was Adam Wilcox, the six string bass player and food reviewer. I said hi to him during the break and he said “It’s so cool that you guys don’t give a fuck.” I said, “Actually we do.” We work pretty hard at making an improvisation sound like a song. I understand it doesn’t always come off that way. He continued, “You know what I mean. You don’t pander to people.” If you make a choice to pander to others you first have to pander to yourself. And why would someone want to do that?