Ancient To The Future

February 21st, 2017

Corey Wilkes, Kahil El Zabar and Ernest Khabeer Dawkins of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble at Louvin' Cup in Rochester, New York

Kahil El’Zabar has probably been here ten times or so and we have never missed a performance. He plays with his Ritual Trio and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and both those groups have had many different lineups. All of the players have been stellar.

He has been here with violinist Billy Bang and saxophonist David Murray from the World Saxophone Quartet a couple of times. On Sunday night he played with trumpet player Corey Wilkes, the guy who filled Roscoe Mitchell’s shoes in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In fact, Kahil wrote “Great Black Music” for the Ensemble and when he introduced the song he said, “these guys can play the shit out of it. Ernest Khabeer Dawkins played baritone sax and he made it look like a toy.

Kahil has great respect for the music and communication power of his ancestors and he shares that spirit with you like you were a welcome member of the congregation. The next time he is here “I will see you in church.” My grandfather used to say that but I never saw him in church.

Mas Pax

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.

Speak Easy

February 18th, 2017

Cheshire Cocktail Lounge on South Avenue in Rochester, New York

I was talking to Martin about a reoccurring dream I had and he told me he had the same dream and it was was one of his favorites. Well, he didn’t have exactly the same dream but it was the same concept. In the dream we discover a really cool section of the city, somewhere we never knew existed, and it was exhilarating. It was almost like we fell asleep to look for this elusive place. It is a very comfortable destination.

We picked up Louise last night and met Matthew downtown when he got off work. They suggested Swillburger Playhouse for dinner, a place we had never been. We hadn’t been there since it became Swillburger but we did play there in the eighties when it was called the Community Playhouse. After dinner they took us to Cheshire Cocktail Lounge, another place we had never been. I hadn’t had a cocktail since Peggi’s mom died but when in Rome. . . This place is something like a speakeasy. There is no signage and you gain access by going up a staircase inside Solera Wine Bar. My grandfather was a bootlegger and he owned a bar on the west side when booze became legal. He would have loved this place.

Bravo

February 17th, 2017

Ossia with the Jack Quartet performing Steve Reich's "Triple Quartet" in Kodak Hall, Rochester, New York

My parents, in their later years, had season tickets to the Rochester Philharmonic. Peggi’s mom had tickets too when she was living here. The program is generally too stuffy for us but if we can help it, we don’t miss a performance of Ossia, the experimental, new music group of Eastman students. Last night was their twentieth anniversary performance. Students from the first configuration are long gone but some, the Jack Quartet, students from a decade or so ago, returned for the celebration. Last night they performed in Kodak Hall where the Philharmonic generally performs and the first piece, Morton Feldman’s “String Quartet and Orchestra,” she transcendental. Feldman sculpts with sound and you get to experience the carving, the exquisite execution of each sound. And then the space around that sound carries equal weight. It becomes a meditation.

The second piece on the program, “…Zwei Gefühle…” by Helmut Lachenmann, was hard core. The piano player needed an assistant to open and close the piano cover as he played. It was cold and clinical but arresting.

Their final piece, Steve Reich’s “Triple Quartet,” the program item that brought out the crowd, was drop=dead gorgeous. Romantic with gypsy-like violin solos in E minor. I love Steve Reich for his hallucinogenic patterns but I didn’t know he had this in him.

Myths

February 15th, 2017

Two of Andy Warhol Myths hanging in office.

This story can only be told now. I was afraid to tell it earlier. Afraid that someone might rip us off if they knew what we had.

My brother was going to school at Hunter College in Manhattan and one of the people in his class worked at the Ronald Feldman Gallery. Feldman represented Andy Warhol and they were selling editions of his upcoming prints, a series of ten silkscreens called “Myths,” at a reduced rate. Reduced because Warhol had not done them yet. They were just an idea.

The cost was 6,000 dollars, a lot of money in 1979. Peggi and I took out a loan for 1800 so we owned three tenths. My brother bought half for 3000 and our friends, Kim and Dave in San Francisco, bought the remaining two tenths. We all informally agreed not to own specific prints but respective shares of each and we agreed not to sell individual prints but keep the series of ten intact. Our ten prints were each numbered 135 of 200.

What would “Myths” look like? We couldn’t imagine. Turns out they were all iconic characters from Warhol’s youth. Greta Garbo as Mata Hari, Dracula, Uncle Sam, the Wicked Witch, Mammy, Howdy Doody, Dracula, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus and an Andy Warhol self portrait as The Shadow. They are each 38 inches by 38 inches on Lenox Museum Board, some with eight colors, rich solid colors and all but one with a pull of glue dusted with diamond dust, each signed in pencil.

We put two on our wall and kept the other eight in a box behind the piano in our house in the city. My uncle worked for Allstate and he arranged to insure them with a rider. But when he retired we were never quite sure if they were really covered. My brother eventually moved out of his Manhattan apartment and he hung five in his house in New Jersey. We never did figure out how to get any out to California.

The prints, like all of Warhol’s work, have continued to increase in value. You would think pop art would have bottomed out by now. I certainly hope it does someday. I would like to see it crushed by something more expressive. But our decision had nothing to do with market timing. My brother got a new estimate from Ronald Feldman and tried to get to the bottom of his insurance policy. His agent wouldn’t even return his call. It was time to sell.

We worked with Roz Goldman in Rochester, the former president of the Appraisers Association of America. She arranged to bring them to auction at Christie’s and we drove our prints down to New York. The last time a complete (but slightly damaged) set of Myths came to auction was in 2014. Our auction is April 15 and we plan to be in the house.

Queen of the Blues

February 13th, 2017

Debbie Kendricks Band with Pete Monacelli

Webster has grown so much since I went to high school out there that I hardly know my way around. Pete Monacelli told us about a gig he had at Salvatore’s, of all places, and said it was on Empire Boulevard. I figured I’d be able to find it with the map on my iPad but there is no Salvatore’s on Empire. It is on Bay Road right across from Danny Flaherty’s place, the former Earthtone’s Coffee. A full bar and dining room surrounded by tvs with sports on, it is the most unlikely place for a swinging, sophisticated blues band.

Vocalist Debbie Kendrick has all the laid back confidence in the world and she backs that up with a voice that commands your attention in the most understated manner. The material is top-shelf gospel-tinged, blues tunes like “John the Revelator.” She has the perfect band with Sean Pfeifer playing rythmic, percussive, acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Bassist, Mike Patric, is as solid as a rock and drummer Pete Monacelli swings like crazy on one drum, a snare, he massages with a pair of the most well seasoned, plastic brushes I have ever seen. This band in amazing.

Goodbye Flash

February 12th, 2017

WNYFlashMourningParty

The bone-headed decision to base the team in Buffalo and have them play their matches in Rochester left the Western New York Flash without a real home. The owners have moved the team, entire roster in tack, to the booming North Carolina suburbs of Raleigh Durham. Eight of us seasoned, season ticket holders gathered to mourn the WNY Flash’s departure. Bennie, the leader of the Flash Mob drum troupe, hosted the get together and decorated her home with homemade Flash banners that she had hung at the stadium over the past few years. All of our favorite players were represented. Jaelene Hinkle, Jessica McDonald, Sabrina D’Angelo, Liz Eddy, Samantha Mewis, Lynn Williams, Taylor Smith, Abby Erceg and McCall Zerboni. We watched a YouTube rerun of the the Flash winning this year’s Championship game in overtime and we made plans to travel to the opening game this year.

Doll House

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.

Mansion Of The Saints

February 9th, 2017

Train yard in New Jersey

My brother is a snowmobile nut. I guess anyone who snowmobiles is a nut, bombing around the woods in in the middle of the night on a high-powered sled. He was up in the Adirondacks last week and he reported perfect conditions. We asked for the report because we were thinking about heading up there to find some snow for cross-country skiing. Our skis were already in the car when we changed our mind and decided to head down to New York for a few days. I’ll explain why we changed our plans in a future post. On the way down to the city we got news of the funeral celebration for my uncle so our trip was cut short. We stayed in Montclair with another brother and took the train into the city on Tuesday morning where we hooked up with Duane outside Penn Station. We walked a few blocks in the rain and then climbed the stairs to the High Line which we walked all the way down to 18th Street in Chelsea. I took a few notes in the galleries and I’ll report on that in a future post.

We drove back to Rochester on Wednesday but stopped in Penn Yan for my uncle’s service. He was active in the Dundee parish of Saint Andrews until they closed it and he was instrumental in moving the steeple bell up to Pen Yan where it now sits in Saint Michael’s Church tower. The priest told us how my uncle pointed to the rope for the bell and told him, “That rope used to be in my barn.” My uncle grew up in Dundee and had a two hundred acre farm there overlooking Seneca Lake. His farm was our absolute favorite destination when we were kids. He called us all “city slickers” even if we came dressed in our cowboy outfits. He sold the place to the Mennonites and the rest is history. After the Mass I was waiting in line to use the bathroom in the back of the church. The priest walked by and I asked him if I could ring he bell for my uncle. It sounded heavenly.

Values Clarification

February 5th, 2017

My watch face showing an alert for the Poseidon Adventure

So many people see the Trump administration as a disaster movie that it is getting tiring. I’m trying to see this period as “values clarification,” a psychotherapy technique and a teacher term. We are living in a teachable moment.

We didn’t expect there to be as many people as there were last night at the Dryden Theater for the showing of the 1972 classic, “The Poseidon Adventure.” Peggi and I first saw this film in Mexico City in 1973. It was in English with Spanish sub-titles and the theater was full with people of all ages. I was happy to see kids and families there last night as well. We had driven to the bottom of Mexico that year, all the way to Oaxaca along the coast and then back up through the middle of the country. Unfortunately I would be afraid to do such a thing today.

Art Romp

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.

Half Moon

February 4th, 2017

Lights on sidewalk in East Irondequoit

We managed to ski in the park yesterday but had to avoid large green patches where the wind and sun had cleared the snow. The temperature is winter-like but we haven’t had enough snow since that run in December. We may have to travel north to whiter pastures before Spring comes. The half moon in the clear skies over our home was too beautiful for a photo. I submit these holiday lights instead.

Picking Alfalfa

February 3rd, 2017

White picket fence along shore in Sodus Point

“Allusive Albini Arrested the Anger Angels of Alabama for picking alfalfa on the day after Tuesday.” “Modest Mary Meandered around Midnight because she was Moonlighting as a Maid.” The residents of my mom’s unit n the Friendly Home all had these crypic, Zues-like handmade signs their respective doors.

We arrived there earlier in the day than we had ever been there before. The night time bedding material was still on the overstuffed lift chairs and most of the residents, half still in their pjs, were in the dining room. We wheeled my mom into the sitting room, I pulled up a chair and Peggi sat in an empty chair next to my mom. An OCD resident came out of the dining room with his walker and immediately scolded Peggi for sitting in his chair. One of the residents, a really tall man, came to of the dining room and said he was looking for the “little boys room.” An aide told him he had just walked right by it.

The staff picked up the bedding as we sat there and the sitting room slowly filled with residents. One woman alternated between yelling “help me” and “hello” and the tall guy said, “Can’t you yell a little louder for Cripe’s sake? Crank it up!” We all laughed at that. An aide was struggling to explain why she was giving Vitamin D to a resident. There was something about how because of where we live we don’t get enough sunshine but the resident wasn’t buying it. An another aide who was holding a resident up said, “Let’s go get you dressed.” The resident said, “I am dressed” and the aide said, “You’re wearing a nightgown. We want to get some clothes on you.”

Fat Tire

February 1st, 2017

Fat-tire bike rider on beach at Lake Ontario

There used to be a bike jump, a ramp made out of dirt that had been dug from the trail and piled up in front of the hole it came out of. It was up where the undeveloped part of Durand Eastman comes close to that sub-division at the end of Spring Valley. We never saw the kids that used it but I pictured those small bikes that ten year olds ride until they either outgrow them or graduate to a 26 inch. The kids would leave empty pop bottles and candy bar wrappers there and I think they even had a board that they rode up on before the big jump over the pit. You hardly ever see kids in the woods anymore so we think of those kids every time we take that trail.

Off road biking is now an adult phenomena. Just like dogs they have their own parks. Thankfully Durand isn’t one of them. There sporadic signs that say “No Biking on Trails” but we occasionally see a big guy zoom by us on a bike. It just seems kind of rude.

These fat tire bikes though are kind of intriguing. They’re ugly like a monster truck but I would like to ride along the beach on one sometime.

Super Eight

January 30th, 2017

Clouds over Lake Ontario at Sodus Point New York

We took an old fashioned Sunday drive along the lake through Pultneyville with its cobblestone houses and further east into the hamlet of Sodus Point where we stopped and walked along the beach. All but one of the buildings here were burned by the British during the War of 1812. Today, it is a dreamy, funky summer vacation spot with cottages and rooms to rent. This time of year the docks in the bay were all empty and the only establishment that appeared to be doing any business was a restaurant called Captain Jack’s.

The sky over the lake changed every time we looked out. I probably should have taken a movie. I read Kodak is bringing back their Super 8 movie camera. Something I never thought I would see. My father brought one of those home from Kodak for me back in the early seventies. I was on my way to Long Island to visit my friend, Rich, and I took my first movie on Jones Beach with Rich running with his dog. Back home I made this movie with three of my brothers and their friends.

Armchair Shrink

January 30th, 2017

Carey HouseI in Sodus Point, New York

Our friends, Jeff and Mary Kaye, hosted a wine tasting at their house last night. Each of us brought some wine and Jeff put it in paper bags, wino style, so we couldn’t see the label. There were ten of us and apparently none of us have a very sophisticated palette because the eighteen dollar bottle of Spanish wine that Peggi picked out won the most votes followed closely by a six dollar bottle of Gnarly Head place second.

Jeff brought a dusty bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild out of a back room and passed it around for us to look at. He didn’t plan to open it but told us it was given to him by an old girlfriend. Sue, who was sitting next to me, scanned the label with her wine scanner app and determined the bottle was worth about 1200 dollars. I was intrigued by the label, a watercolor painting of a ram, that was signed by someone named John Houston. Sure enough, the director of Chinatown was also an artist and this label is said to be his last painting.

Another Jeff, sitting across the table from me, asked Jeff the host what his off-the-record, off-duty,professional diagnosis of the president was. Jeff said he thinks Trump is a narcissist of such proportions that he believes he is telling the truth even when he when he lies. In this morning’s paper Maureen Dowd asked a Trump biographer about the orange one and he said, ““Donald’s manic without being depressive.” Having known a few manic/depressives I would say this one fits but is the condition even possible?

We’ll Take It

January 25th, 2017

Hoffman Road wetland with wet snow

Wet snow and 40 degrees is not ideal for skiing but we had to get out there before it disappears. There was not enough for the woods so we drove to the golf course and strapped on our skis there. We left mostly green tracks in in our wake but managed to get up to the lake and back. The snowfall started as rain and then came down so wet it stuck to every branch.

Tonight’s feature: The only film Charles Laughton ever directed, “The Night of the Hunter” from 1955 with Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. I will report back.

Out The Window

January 23rd, 2017

Strong Butterfly Museum in Rochester, New York

“Alternative facts” entered the lexicon over the weekend and now everyone is talking about whether we are in a post truth world. I keep thinking of our friends, Pete and Shelley, and their preference for fiction over non. After every visit we go home with a list of books, mostly ones on loan from the library. Some of which, Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” and David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” pretty much layout our current non-fiction state. I get the feeling they think our obsession with current events is silly because fiction so much broader. But if the context for understanding fiction is reality based where would fiction be without non-fiction. And with “alternative facts” and “post-truth” that context goes out the window. Might as well merge those two departments in the library.

Go Cut Down A Tree

January 22nd, 2017

Little Free Library Culver Road in Rochester, New York

We walked up to Wegman’s this afternoon and while we were cutting through the cemetery our neighbor, Steve Greive, yelled out his truck window at us, “You’ll be there soon enough.” I had no idea what he had yelled. Peggi translated. On Culver we walked by one torn-out book page after the other. Some high school kid had dropped pages every few steps for ten blocks. I picked up one of them and it was Sarah Palin’s book, “Going Rogue.” I couldn’t believe it. I had photographed that book in the Little Free Library in front of a house Culver Road just a few weeks ago. Sure enough the trail of pages stopped at the library. I thought it would be fun to transcribe one of the paragraphs from the page I picked up but it is too mundane.

We ran into Jan, another neighbor, in Wegman’s and we told her we saw her husband and Dave Pitt, the tree surgeon, down on Hoffman Road this morning. She told us Dave had run out of firewood and he was borrowing some. This made no sense at all and we all laughed.

Speaking of funny. I have not laughed so hard for so long in quite some time as I did to Dana Carvey’s stand-up Netflix show, “Straight White Male, 60.” The Church Lady was never this funny.

Free Melania

January 21st, 2017

Leo Dodd watercolor painting of protesters at Washington Square Park in Rochester, New York

A couple thousand came out on a fifty degree January day for the People’s Solidarity Rally at Washington Square Park, the site the Occupy protests that my father painted, above. I’m glad I went. I felt really proud of our city. The speakers, all from various contingents of the so-called movement, were mostly inspiring. A fiery Mayor Lovely Warren invoked Susan B. Anthony. Brighton supervisor, Bill Moehle, complimented the crowd on the great homemade signs, “Make America Think Again,” “Second Graders Against Trump,” “Free Melania,” “Babes Against Bullshit,” Pussies Against Putocracy”, “Non Judgement Day Is Near,” “What’s Taking the Impeachment So Long,” and then focused his rowing talk on the common bumper sticker, “Think Globally. Act Locally.”
to the Women’s March father’s Occupy Saint Mary’s Church

We had lunch at Han Noodle Bar on Monroe Avenue and came home to watch protest footage like this clip from Madrid.