I had the best seat in the house last night, surrounded by my favorite musicians as Margaret Explosion performed in the long hallway of the fourth floor in the Anderson Art Gallery. The ultra-short throw projector, mounted in the ceiling, threw a crisp twenty foot wide image on the white wall well in front of where Peggi was standing.
The band was ready to go anywhere and we managed to sculpt a multi-layered soundtrack for the show. The acoustics were perfect and unlike at the Little the crowd was silent while we played. It would have made a sensational recording if the recorder hadn’t been unplugged before the file was written to disc. But that fact only made the experience more special.
I stopped by the Bop Shop yesterday for the annual sidewalk sale. There was nothing on the sidewalk so I masked up and went in. I worked my way through a few racks of one dollar 45s (Tom said he would sell them for 50 cents if I bought a bunch) and I found a clean copy of Barbara Lewis’s “Hello Stranger.”
A couple of young girls with colored hair were combing through the 80’s lps. And a guy with white hair and a black t-shirt was talking to another customer about his band. I overheard him say they played the Irondequoit town Hall last week. We can hear stray echos of those Thursday evening show’s from where we live. There is one happening as I write this.
Tom introduced me to a new employee. He said we should know one another. They put a Margaret Explosion cd on stores sound system. The guy (I can’t remember his name) asked where he could hear the band live and I told him we have two art gallery gigs coming up -Friday 7pm in the gallery where my show is hanging and next Saturday afternoon, 1pm at Joy Gallery on West Main Street.
The utility pole in this picture is brand new. A big delivery truck, bigger than the one shown here was delivering something to the house on the corner last week and while turning around it took out the power lines and pulled down the utility poles in both directions. The neighbors down here were without power throughout the night.
Our tv is nowhere near as big as the ones on this truck. We sit close to watch La Liga matches but they are still on break. We watched “The House of Gucci.” Started out fun but then crashed. Should have been made in Italian. The bad Italian accented English reminded me of the way kids talked in high school. We watched the Spanish horror movie “Passenger,” just because it was Spanish. The truck driver played cassettes of the traditional music you might hear at a bullfight and that was the best part of that movie. We’re watching “Resurrection” now and that is really good. Love the lead actress and the way she runs. I know something bad is going to happen to her. I feel asleep during it last night and then woke up when someone screamed. We’ll get back to it tonight.
It was 90 degrees out on Sunday and we don’t have air so we went to the 3 o’clock showing of “Memoria” at the Little Theatre. I loved it but hardly anything happened so I can hardly remember it. I loved how it spaced me right out. Tilda Swinton is fabulous. She registered what we were feeling as we watched. Uncertainty and dislocation with the panic. The movie can’t be streamed, it is touring the country like a traveling art show. And we watched the 1973 movie, “Badlands,” with Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen. It was a perfect movie except for one thing. They killed Warren Oats off too fast.
Monica counted 90 rings in this oak. They had to take it down because the Gypsy Moths did it in. We’re guessing that Leo, the guy that built their house, probably had a big hook in the tree, something to tie his dog up with, and the tree swallowed up the hook and left these stains in the wood.
We watched a pair of mourning doves build a nest in the cherry tree just outside our window this spring. We kind of forgot about it when the foliage filled in so we never saw the babies. We spotted a Baltimore Oriole making a nest in the Tulip tree near the pool down the street but then sort of forgot about it. The branch with the nest was starting to grow over the pool so the pool members decided to take it down. We extended a pole saw with another pole and managed to get it up some thirty feet. We took turns moving the pole up and down and when limb hit the ground we found this wonder.
A few days back I posted a picture of one of Jim Thomas’s light sculptures. They rightly belong in a museum but many of them still sit in his home studio. Jim and his wife, Gail, had back to back shows in Studio 402 and and then the Little but they were both experiencing health issues at the time so a small group of friends helped them hang the show. The Thomas’s had the group out to their place in Fishers and then emailed us to thank us for coming out. Mostly he wanted to thank us for talking art with them.
This was all backwards. We should be thanking them. Before leaving their place Jim offered us each one of his pieces, our pick, to take home. The three photos shown here are the pieces we considered before settling on a small oil pastel. They are a feast for the eyes but wall space is a limitation for us.
This last one is our favorite. Peggi sees a deconstructed apple. The colors, nearly flat in most places, look like they were both loosely and confidently applied. Not fussy, it remains fresh and alive. The forms move your attention through the painting and back out, not just clockwise but into the light blue space and then forward through the grey before dropping on your lap. We might have to do a little rearranging.
Corey will get a kick out of this photo. This mirror is right across the street from his house. That’s his old mattress in the driveway. We brought. back an armload of Collard greens from the garden, the regular, giant leaf plant and the Hen- Pecked version which looks exactly like it sounds. We thinned our carrots and brought back some young ones and Peggi made greens and beans with it all and we ate out on the porch with an ice cold NA Saint Pauli.
Brad Fox is back in town, temporarily living with his brother and bound for his mom’s old place once they finish a few renovations. He’s been gone a long time.
First Friday was fun. Peggi took photos and got a great one of Dominica, Tom and Barbara getting off the elevator which Colleen was operating for the evening. It was mostly a different crowd from the opening and that made it fun. Plenty of art talk. And it was hot under the gallery lights, the way it should be at the peak of summer.
The gallery is open by appointment until the end of the month and there is one more event in the space. City Newspaper ran a little piece about that.
We were invited out to Jim and Gail Thomas’s place in Fishers where the two artists have their studios, workshop and gallery space. They have had some health issues recently and we helped hang their recent show at the Little. This afternoon’s gathering was their thank you to “the hanging crew.”
Jim started teaching at RIT when the school was still downtown. He and his wife had a gallery on Prince Street in the early 2000’s and Peggi and I bought one of Jim’s large (six foot tall) totemic, figurative, charcoal drawings. Jim’s work, mostly abstract sculpture, painting and drawing is based on the figure and grounded in natural forms. When we first entered his downstairs gallery the only illumination was coming from his light sculptures. I took this photo of a sensational floor standing piece.
Gail showed us the form-fitting, lime green mask she was required wear during her treatments and after a few hours of art talk and cookies Jim invited us into his studio where he offered us each the pick of any piece to take home with us. Peggi and I chose a beautiful oil pastel drawing of two interlocking forms.
One of the nicest things about my show at Colleen’s studio is having the chance to get to know Colleen. She once told me she wasn’t “particularly fond of painting” so this wasn’t a given. I am particularly fond of her artwork and I only found her comment intriguing. She invited Peggi and I over to see the garden that she her husband, Hucky, have created in their backyard. It is the garden of the gods! Every kind of plant, flower and tree seems happy here and some like the olive, orange and fig tree are only out for the summer so it was a thill to see it all at the peak of summer..
“I am always trying to get home in dream.” The first breath of Louise’s new poem, published here in the Spanish press, drew me in. Our friend, Pete Monacelli has painted a few hundred paintings with the title, “Searching for Home.” We have a few here that we treasure but what’s with the longing for this mythical place. Isn’t it right here?
And this is what makes the world go ’round. I know the gist of the backstory for Louise’s poem, “Mother at Eighty.” It is unsettling. But that very same material shaped this beautiful poem. “that pale disc of sun on a white clouded day —.”
The accompanying photo, by Matthew Leonard. certainly caught my eye. Louise is standing in front my mugshot series of friends from the 1970’s.
Peggi got an email the other day from an Associate Professor of Geography at SUNY Geneseo. His letter started with “I see that you have observed pawpaw.” Peggi uses the iNaturalist app to identify trees we come across on our walks and he does too so he was able to contact Peggi through the app. He said he had recently published a paper on the distribution of pawpaw and hoped to compare our location with an existing database he has on pawpaw in Western NY.
In his paper he says even though Pawpaw is native to our area it is quite rare in NYS—earning it a threatened-species designation. He says, “Pawpaws produce the largest edible fruit of all native tree species in the United States—each custardy fruit can weigh up to a pound.” The exotic-tasting fruit is described as a mix of banana and mango flavors with a hint of pineapple.
We had forgotten where it was in the park so we followed the coordinates and found it this morning. We saw at least thirty small Pawpaw trees (along with some wild strawberries) growing below the big one. We re-identified it in the app and Peggi sent new pictures to the professor.
We do a monthly shop at the Co-Op, taking advantage one of our 10% member discount and stocking the shelves We usually combine that errand with a walk around downtown or along the river and then a stop at Pete and Gloria’s place. This week we walked along South Avenue to where it collides with 490, a most inhospitable exchange, and Peggi pointed out that this is where we took the Hi-Techs photo that was used on the cover of our first single.
I guess Hi-Techs were on our mind because we had a meeting scheduled with Joe Massaro from Paperface Magazine. He is doing a feature on Personal Effects in the next issue. He had done quite a bit of research, had all of the records and wanted to discuss the transition from Hi-Techs to Personal Effects to Margaret Explosion. He started by asking me why I left New Math. He called our “Die Trying” single “power pop royalty.”
He seemed to know all the answers to his questions beforehand but he was so much fun to talk to the conversation took long detours. He recorded the the whole thing and will have a lot to sift through but he is young. He told us he didn’t have the picture sleeve for “Screamin’ You Head” so I found one in the basement.
Today is the feast day of Santiago, also known as Saint James (the Greater), Sante Jacob in Italy and Sao Tiago in Portugal. He is the patron saint of Galicia, Spain and Portugal. I got my box of holy cards out last night in preparation and found the I have ten of Santiago. My favorites are shown above. My favorite image of Saint James is this one by Guido Reni.
There were two apostles named James. The Greater is said to have brought the gospel to the Iberian peninsula. He returned to Israel and Herod the king had him beheaded, the first of the apostles to be martyred. His remains miraculously found their way back Spain and they are said to be kept in the cathedral of Santiago. During the reconquest, Saint James is said to have helped the Spaniards repel the Moors. In this grizzly role he is known as “Santiago Matamoros.”
We took a photo of the cards and sent it to my cousin, Maureen. She is, by far, the best Catholic in the family and I have two cousins who are or were nuns. We walked the Camino de Santiago with Maureen a few years back and have talked of doing it again.
I fired up a slideshow of our Spain photos (almost 4000 of them) on our tv this morning and it is still shuffling along. I set our LED kitchen lights to deep red. We had Spanish hors d’oeuvres, Quince paste on Manchego cheese, and roasted Marcona almonds with a bottle of Lan Reserva. Peggi made Gambas al Ajillo for dinner and Tarta de Santiago for dessert.
Heat impacts productivity. Without air conditioning we spend less time in front of our computers and more time on the screened in porch. We wear less clothing, drink more NA beer, spend more time watering the garden. We take more trips down to the pool and then one more before bed. We fall asleep to the white noise of the fan.
I‘m happy it wasn’t this hot last week for my opening. I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for staying in. On the day after the opening, with my studio walls so empty and white, I was anxious to dive into new projects. Nature had other plans.
In my last post I talked about the first of my two HPER classes at Indiana University. I mentioned that you were required to take two. My first choice was diving and my second was trampoline. Of course you pick things you like and feel you are pretty good at. I’ll have to ask Peggi what her second choice was. I know she took bowling and while in that class she developed a wicked hook and her game fell apart.
By second semester in freshman year my hair was starting to get long. I was headed to Woodstock that year. The teacher was really bothered by my appearance and continually mocked me in front of class. I shrugged it off at first so he continued to escalate his verbal abuse. Instead of just calling me “Pocahontas” he started using all sorts of homophobic slurs. I was as good as anyone in the class so I tried to ride it out but near the end of the course we were doing some really tricky flips and twists and the teacher arranged it so I only had two guys to spot me, two guys who laughed at all the teacher’s jokes and not nearly enough to keep me from cracking my head open if I fell off the trampoline. The guy gave me a ”D minus.” I tried to complain to higher ups but they said there was nothing they could do. Just a tiny taste of what discrimination feels like.
Later that year I was visiting a friend off campus. He wasn’t home so I walked a few blocks and sat on the stone wall that surrounded the IU Law School. A car with someone hanging out the window drove by and he screamed ”faggot.” I flipped him the bird. They came back around the block, the doors swung open and three guys, all wearing blue windbreakers with yellow Greek letters on the front, started swinging at me. I landed a few good punches but quickly got the sense they wanted to kill me. I came to with my face planted in the sidewalk, my glasses smashed, my nose and jaw broken and some ambulance guys standing over me. Another small taste.
Gym class was my favorite period in school. In fact, it was the only one I loved. And after school I would most likely be found on the playground or in a gym. When I got to Indiana University they had a requirement that you had to take two semesters of gym, except they didn’t call it gym, they called it “HPER.” There was a HPER building and a HPER program. The acronym stood for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The two HPER classes I chose were Diving and Trampoline. The Diving class was taught by Hobie Billingsley, who at the time was the US Olympic diving coach. IU had a great swimming team as well. Doc Councilman was the coach and he also coached the US Olympic swimming team. Mark Spitz was in my class. He sold pot on the side.
Hobie’s obituary was in today’s paper along with this photo. As the obit stated, “Great trust and rapport is needed between diver and coach.” I tell this story all the time but it bears repeating today. On the very first day of class, just after he introduced himself, he asked us all to climb to the very top of the high platform and fall backwards into the pool below. The 10 meter platform is comparable to the top of a three-story building. My knees were trembling as I climbed the open stairs. He told us that we needed to trust him and if we did and followed his instructions we would not be hurt.
Once at the top we were to walk to the front of the platform and then turn around so that our heels were on the very edge. We were instructed to stand tall and stiff and then simply fall backwards. There were some sloppy and somewhat painful entries but if you followed his instructions you would do a complete 360 before your toes entered the water.
We were sitting with the drummer’s family in the front row at the Little Theatre Café. Pete’s wife was holding their granddaughter in her arms while the baby parents ate. Another grandson, Jacob, was sitting next to us drinking a Different Animal IPA while he was hunched over his phone. Peggi asked me what I thought of the paintings. There is a different show here every month. I said “I’ve been trying to find one I like. They all look a mess.” Peggi said, “I hope the artist isn’t nearby.” And Jacob quietly said, “I’m the artist.” We were startled at first but then laughed. We spent the rest of the evening chatting between songs. He was playing chess with someone online while the band played.
We told Jacob that the bass player in Margaret Explosion was a chess master. He asked, “What’s his name.” Apparently there is a database of chess players online with a ranking system that Jacob tried to explain to us but we didn’t follow. Our bass player, Ken, is right up there. We gave Jacob Ken’s contact and they plan to play in person.
Debbie had a friend sitting in on background vocals. The band was pretty relaxed, a quality that is right up there in my book. Debbie and her friend were singing the lyrics to the 1968 Delfonics song, “La-La (Means I Love You).” Sean was trying to find the chords. It lasted for five minutes or so and then they announced they would be taking a break. We loved it.
Four hours seemed like a ridiculously long time for an opening but just as we turned the projector on people were walking through the door. Most of them were short of breath after climbing four flights of stairs. Gail and Jim Thomas took the elevator. They got off with masks on so we temporarily suited up. I was happy to see them but so surprised considering their recent heath issues. There was a steady flow throughout the evening with a nice lull around 7:30. A few windows were open to keep the Covid away and I’m hoping it did the trick.
I had pictured myself trying to hide from everybody but I was engaged in conversation non-stop, most of it about the work. Everybody had different favorites. Some the slideshow, others Los Inmigrantes, the color fields, the stations or the shapely Arcadian Forms. In fact they were surprisingly the favorites. This is just what I gathered. If they hated hated it all they didn’t tell me.
I talked with George Wegman the longest. Discovered we look the world the same way. George used to play guitar with The Hangmen back in the middle sixties. We bought one of his paintings a while back. Pete and Gloria watched the slideshow until it started repeating. I didn’t think that was possible. Jim Mott helped me move one of the paintings after I told him I wished it was lower and to the right a few inches. Scott McCarney wore a Personal Effects shirt that he designed. A cassette tape was pictured on the front labeled ”This Is It.” But the sweetest thing that happened all night was the call from Anne Havens just before the show.
Before Peggi and I started hanging the Manifestation show in the Anderson Arts Building, Colleen took us in the back room to show her array of tools – everything in its place, laid out on a table like an art installation in itself. Picture a row of needle nose pliers from small to large, the nose of each pair between the handles of the next. They looked like they were going to have sex. She told us she shared a studio with Scott McCarney and learned the organizational feat from him.
She pointed to hammers in all sizes and called attention to one with a felt tip – “for tapping in push pins.” I had never heard of such a thing but days later I used the velvet hammer to hang some last minute additions to the show, six black and white photos taken in 1976.
Peggi and I decided to hang “Los Inmigrantes” first. I’ve had them hanging in my studio for about a year now. I drilled a couple of small holes in the back of each, corresponding holes in the wall and then backed a finishing nail into the holes in the wood pieces. This allowed me to push the piece toward the wall but not but not flat against it. I did this rather organically and started to take measurements of all the holes so I could transfer the piece downtown. Peggi suggested that I take a tracing of the holes, a brilliant idea that she said sprung from her sewing background. We laid the tracing paper out on the freshly painted wall and I drilled right though the paper.
We were so lucky to find a house that that had not been overly mucked with by previous owners and hapless contractors. There were a few real clunkers, the barn wood in the kitchen and the ornate, white wrought iron railing along the opening to our basement. Julio Sanchez Baños designed and installed the hand rail that you see coming at you in the photo above. The heavy red oak, matching our red oak floors (which were milled from trees growing where our house stands today), is supported by thin stainless steel rods and appear to float.
A few years back we found a metal frame in the trash while we were out walking. I carried it home and made a wood top for it. We used it as an outdoor table, under our overhang and near the fire when we sat around with friends during the pandemic. When our neighbor came over with muddy shoes and found nowhere to sit by our door we realized we need a bench there so we brought the table in and started using it as a bench. We use it everyday.
My brother, John, a woodworker/craftsman has made a number of pieces for us – a chair as a wedding present, a coffee table made out of redwood from our old deck and a utility table in our office. We asked him if he could make us a bench that worked with the red oak in our railing. He dropped it off a few weeks ago and we love it.
It looks particularly good with the “For Fritz” paintings. I have sixteen of them and I was planning on hanging the six shown here at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. The show opens on Friday and I’ve just decided to show a different batch there. This grouping will include the white one.
I was looking for a title for this upcoming show and also kicking around ideas for an album title for some recent Margaret Explosion songs. I found both on two succeeding pages in Musa Meyer’s recent book, “Resilience.”
Writing about her father’s work in the early seventies she described how Philip Guston was dogged by questions about why his work had changed, from abstraction to figurative. One critic complained the “manifestation” was different. Guston answered, “That is our fate. Constant change.”
“You have to keep learning how to play in new ways all the time. It’s always good for the first time. There is a popular Italian song called “Per la Prima” – “For the First Time.” It’s about a love affair, but it’s the same thing. It’s always good for the first time, and somehow, that has to be recaptured, constantly.”
Margaret Explosion improvises. Each song we play is being played for the first time. When we do try to recreate a song it is never as good as it was the first time. “Per la Prima” will be the title of our upcoming lp.
This art show would more accurately be sub-titled “Paul Dodd | Recent Play.”
Opening Reception: Friday, July 15, 5-9pm First Friday Open Studio August 5, 5-9pm Margaret Explosion performance w/ slideshow Friday Aug. 12, 7-8pm Open by appointment July 15 through August 28, 2022
Anderson Arts Building, Studio 401 250 N. Goodman Street Rochester, NY 14607 (Enter behind Good Luck Restaurant)
Exhibit also includes “Brief History of the World” slideshow (detail shown below) ePub book format of “Brief History of the World” is available as a free download at www.popwars.com/artist-books