Our neighbor down the street told us he caught twenty-six raccoons this summer. Early on, they were digging trenches in his lawn so they could get at the grubs below. He found some sort of natural grub treatment and they stopped burrowing but they continued to stop by and shit on his deck so he kept baiting the have-a-heart trap. The raccoons come out at night and he only has one trap so that means 26 calls to animal control and 26 round trips for the town worker. Whether or not it is the same raccoons coming back is still a matter of debate.
Peggi and I just finished a spurt of tech support duty. We ordered a new computer for my brother and set that up. It is easier than ever these days if you’re synced to the cloud. My brother was but his desktop was using one id and his phone was using another. Once we figured out why the two devices had different photos, documents etc. it took some doing to merge the two. An artist friend sent an email to a group asking for help with an unusual issue. His photos were duplicating themselves. He had duplicates alright but I’m not sure the photos were the ones doing the duplicating. We suggested he just select the rows of duplicates and just delete all but the first one. That seemed to work. Our friend, Brad, dropped his laptop and cracked the screen so we helped him write a backup before sending it in for repair. He told us he didn’t want to use the cloud for some reason and we told him there are 850 million iCloud users for a reason. Turns out he was using the cloud with his phone without knowing it so we put the contents of his laptop up there too.
I hope a few readers were able to download and enjoy Anne Havens art books. Six of them are available for downloads now and Anne is rounding up some more for us to turn into eBooks.
We walked over to Kathy’s yesterday but she wasn’t home. We met the brand new baby, Vida, in her mother’s arms on the front stoop of the house next door and then wandered around the neighborhood. This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, so laid back it feels like vacation homes unless someone tries driving an ambulance into the bay.
I was hoping Ken Burns wouldn’t use Peter Coyote again as the narrator for his “The US and the Holocaust” series. As intense and disturbing as the material is, Coyote’s cadence puts me to sleep. We had just watched the 1999 version of The Haunting where Liam Neeson rounds up insomniacs for a sleep study in an old house plagued by paranormal special effects. Bruce Dern was the best thing about that movie but he was only in it for a few minutes. Coyote has a cure for insomnia. The Ken Burns footage of Hitler, Lindbergh and “The Radio Priest” made it clear how little has changed.
We had just read “The Transcendent Power of Walking” before heading out so we were primed for automaticity. We entered the park on the short path at the end of the longest street in our neighborhood of dead ends. A music stand was set about ten feet away from an array of percussion instruments as if it was awaiting a conductor.
The Eastman Wind Ensemble had set up their instruments in a dozen clusters all within earshot of one another. The students, all dressed in black, had gathered on the picnic tables after finishing their sound check. We asked one of them what was going on and he told us they were performing the premier of a Robert Morris piece commissioned by the Eastman School of Music in celebration of their centennial.
There were two performances, one at 1:30 and another at 3:30. We missed them both but we thoroughly enjoyed the setup.
Anne Havens did a series of life-sized plaster heads called “Sleeping Around.” We have one of them on our bookcase. Peggi and I spotted this rock down at the pool this afternoon, I think it may have been used as a door stop for the pump house, and we thought of Anne. She is stuck in Florida for a while so we carry on with our experience of her art as inspiration.
We talked to Anne Havens over the weekend and got her approval on posting some of her books as eBooks. We visit Anne’s website often and are always surprised at how well the technical end of the site is holding up as Anne did it herself with Apple’s long discontinued iWeb app.
Anne did a lot of those Apple Books too, from photos of her work. She did one for each show for awhile and she gave us the pdf files she sent Apple so we could pull the pages out for a slideshow on Colleen Buzzard’s big projector. With all those pages in a folder it was easy create eBooks of her long out of print editions. Five of her eBooks are available here as free downloads.
Peggi took this video of Anne Havens “Recent Prints” show the Little Theater Gallery in 2006. The resolution on her camera has improved since then.
I’m thinking this guy, in the middle of Hoffman Road, is praying he won’t get run over.
Almost a week since I checked in here. Where did that week go? The weather changed and the summer job jar was near full so we took advantage of the cooler temps to tackle household/yard projects we had been putting off for months. Some, like pulling the invasive wisteria vines out of the hillside, left us near exhaustion.
But there was always time in the day for a European football match. Between La Liga matches and the Champions League one of our our three teams played each day on rewind.
I think that is the lake out there and our house somewhere on the horizon at the upper right. Tim Schapp used to have a view like this when he worked in the Lincoln First Bank, the white building on the left of this photo. Innovation Square, the former Xerox corporate headquarters, was our first stop on Saturday’s Rochester Landmark Society tour. This is the view from the shared office space on the 24th floor. We visited the gaming center on a lower floor and then an apartment before moving on to four other buildings. The repurposed, former industrial spaces were the most interesting. The newly constructed apartments are nice but a little too orderly.
To an old guy who grew up here it is just amazing how many living paces there are downtown now. Of course that goes along with the large scale exit of retail and office workers.
What you don’t see in this photo is the eastern portion of the old Inner Loop. The city listened when Chuck Cuminale led the crowd at Colorblind James gigs in the “Death to the Inner Loop” chants. The powers that be filled half of it in and apartment buildings sprung up overnight.
The recent “Clarissa Uprooted” show at City Space made it clear how destructive the highway boom was to cities like ours. But as Adam Paul Susaneck put it in an article in this morning’s paper, “It’s heartening that a few places show that change is possible. In Rochester, N.Y., the east side of a massive highway loop that cuts through the city’s Black community and walls part of it off from downtown has finally been demolished, the street grid stitched back together and affordable housing built on the site where the highway used to run. And yes, in many cases, cities should follow Rochester’s lead. “
I’ve been staring out the window now for at least five minutes, trying to figure out what the brown lump in our Hemlock is. I had just convinced myself that it was a bee hive, one of those layered paper structures, and then it moved. A squirrel in some sort of trance.
I took this photo from the road at the edge of the marsh that fills this whole valley. It didn’t always look like this. These purple flowering grasses are new, another invasive. Its all cattails on the other side of the road. The two don’t mix. Morning Glory vines crawl up both with blue flowers all summer.
According to the old-timers, back when we moved here, this property used to be garden plots for the neighbors. A creek ran through it, on its way out to the lake, but when a large plot of land was cleared for a driving range and then a sprawling subdivision south of Titus Avenue, the creek overflowed and the sandy soil shifted.
The lowest section of the road overflowed in the spring. Peggi and I would take our shoes off to wade through. Large snapping turtles crawled out of the marsh to lay their eggs near the road but coyotes got most of them before they hatched. A group of neighbors sued the town for failing to address the drainage issues and the Army Corps came in to engineer curves in the creek to slow down the flow. They raised Hoffman Road a good five feet and distributed the water over a wide area by cutting a least five culverts under the road. Over time we watched all the big trees, the ones with hawks at the top and the red winged black birds in the branches, lose their bark, turn white and tumble into the marsh.
Manifestation is back in boxes. The white walls of Colleen Buzzard’s Studio are singing a different tune this month, “Works on Paper” by Beauty. Although she has been an artist her whole life, this is only Beauty’s second show. I asked her if her clothes really looked like they do in her paintings and she said no. She animates them. In her own words –
“This show was inspired by my wardrobe which feels like it has a life of its own. I am intrigued that even inanimate objects have an essence, a sense of presence, and I find that especially true of my clothes and footwear. It is that unexplained, alive quality in the most ordinary of objects that led me to this work.”
Rochester Contemporary’s show, “Artists For Ukraine,” opened on Friday night and there were already quite a few red dots on the wall by the time we arrived. All proceeds benefit Humanitarian & Medical Aid to Ukraine. Larry Merrill donated two beautiful photos from his “Wards of Time: Photographs of Antiquities” series and we chatted with him at the opening. I wish Putin was listening.
The four page handout from “Echoes of the Ether,” Jenn Libby‘s new show at Mercer Gallery, is an essential part of her show. We took one with us and it connected the dots, between Icarus and climate change. The wall of 45s with ambrotypes mounted in the center hole of each was her “letter to Mother Earth” and the sound installation by Joe Tunis, was a composite of the runout grooves from those 45s. The acoustics in the crowded gallery were so lively we were unable to hear the sound installation. When we mentioned this to a friend they told us when they were there the sound installation was so loud they had to leave.
I particularly liked the set of tintypes, “Seeing is Forgetting” (like the one shown above), camera-less images that reveal aspects of objects not normally seen. A return visit is in order.
Arugula likes Rochester. It’s hardy and rugged. It has a biting sense of humor. We generally do three plantings. It pops out of the ground in early spring, mid summer and early fall and you can start picking it almost immediately. It adds character to green salads where you would be hard pressed to taste the difference between Gentilina, red and romaine lettuce. On its own – a small pile of arugula, lightly tossed in olive oil and spritzed with fresh lime juice and a touch of salt – it is a rock star.
Monica made fresh pickles with the young cucumbers they grew and for the past few years she has given us a jar. She suggests that we wait at least a few days for the vinegar to permeate the pickles. She knows how much I love these so I count the days. Peggi doesn’t really care for them. I put them on my boiled egg and toast in the morning and make the jar last a at least a week. And then I boil a few eggs at once and put them in the brine. They get better each day.
These canvases are the same size but they don’t look it. One is just a little closer to the camera. I like how this photo conveys the simple technique employed by artists to convey a sense of space in a 2D work. You could, for example, make one eye bigger in a portrait and it would appear closer to you thereby adding volume to the subject and depth to your field.
Tomorrow brings a new show to Colleen Buzzard’s Studio, “Works on Paper” by an artist named Beauty, whose work focuses on the inner vitality she finds in familiar objects. Beauty won’t be using the projector in the big hallway so Colleen asked us if we could prepare a disc of slides of Anne Havens’ work, all taken from pdfs of the Apple Books Anne did for her shows over the past two decades. It was pure joy to spend time with images of Anne’s drawings, paintings and sculptures but it was pretty much of bummer to discover more limitations of the Micca Media Player that we’re using to interface with the projectors. You would think you would be able to view both movies and photos if they were in a folder together but it’s one of the other.
I came awake with “Rock Steady” going around in my head. I don’t remember hearing it recently. I couldn’t even remember who did it. Was it a Reggae song? There was a whole genre called Rock Steady. I could hear Aretha Franklin’s song by that name but that wasn’t it. I had to look it up. It was the Whispers from 1987 and the song was produced by Baby Face who is performing here this weekend.
The sun has set on “Manifestation,” my show at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. Peggi helped me dismantle it last night and Colleen was already prepping the walls for next month’s show. Certainly not everyone who attended the show liked what they saw but I took note when someone liked one of the pieces enough to tell me. For most it was “Los Inmigrantes.” There was plenty of talk about “Passion Play” and “Brief History of the World,” and surprisingly some liked the “For Fritz” pieces the best. For a select few, the most enthusiastic response was to the “Arcadian Forms” and that was rewarding. They are my favorites as well. I plan to mount them on the wall in my studio and find a way to move forward in that direction.
Do butterflies have sex in midair? The bottom one was following the top up and down the row of Sue’s Zinnias and unlike the top one it didn’t seem interested in the nectar. I could look up the answer to my question but its more fun to imagine that they do and I don’t want to be disappointed.
We ordered a new iMac for my brother, Fran, and found they were on back order (like everything else). The box arrived yesterday and we took it out to my brother’s place in Webster. He had just returned from a Corvette show in Pennsylvania where he bought a reconditioned panel for the inside of his 1969 Vette. His old Mac was from 2009 and his browser was slow as molasses. We made sure he was backed up to the cloud before we migrated and we discovered he had two Apple IDs so his photos on his old computer were never in sync with the ones on his phone. That took some doing to straighten out.
We took a break and walked over to the community of small cottages near Hedge’s on the lake. While we were gone my brother went out and bought us lunch from a joint down the road and a bag of fresh corn from his favorite roadside stand. Once we had the combined photo libraries on the phone and the new computer we took off. But we didn’t get far. We stopped at a new craft beer place on Lake Road and had an amber ale from Lunkenheimer’s.
Brad called this morning And I almost expected him to tell us his tv had slipped off the wall. We were out there a few days ago and Peggi and I mounted his big tv on a wall in the living room. I brought my stud finder out there but had better luck listening for hollow spots. We got two of the four giant wood screws through the top two holes of the mount and solidly into studs. But then directly below those two screws the studs weren’t lining up so we had to put them in at an angle. We listened to Brad’s message and heard that he dropped his laptop and broke his screen.
At dinner last night, in Kathy’s backyard, Jan mentioned a recent house fire in which someone had died. It was on Garford Road, one of the streets off Culver, and we were trying to place it. We walk in a different direction most days so if it is nearby, we have been down it many times. Turns out it is one of the sunnier streets and we prefer the tree-lined ones so we were not that familiar with it. We walked over there today and most of the Cape Cod is still standing but it looks like a total loss.
This nearby house caught our attention and we stopped to study it. We discussed the charred logs on the beds of white stones and the weathered stump with a plate on top of it. Peggi directed my attention to another detail and I broke out laughing, quickly catching myself because some of the neighbors were outside. She had said, “It appears they don’t want anyone using their front door.”
An American flag seems to completely cover one of the few windows in the house. The eagle (is that where the “spread eagle” term comes from?) at the peak is a nice touch. This patriotic section of the house appears to have a spotlight on it. It’s odd that the person who designed the house recessed the garage. And the canvas awning they have on the window near the garage makes it impossible to see in or out of it.
The shades are completely down on the criss-crossed picture window and the diamond pattern is picked up again on the tiny window in the door. Finally, I love the house number, the two digits separated by the bare bulb lamp.
Despite the recent rain the lake level is .7 feet below its long term August average. The outlet of Eastman Lake had cut a deep chasm through the beach. We took our shoes off to wade across and it felt great. While we waited for our feet to dry I collected a handful small smooth stones, all the size of coins, and we marveled at how each one was a different color from the next. Exactly how do these well worn stones wind up together on our beach?
We take walks around the woods once the paths close in with the invasive garlic mustard and swallow wort. We had a hunch that those may have died back enough for clear passage but we were just a bit early. We went straight to the shower when we got back to drown the microscopic ticks before they had a chance to bore into our bloodstreams.
We picked our first proper batch of Pimientos de Padrón and watched our first La Liga match of the new season. Atlético beat Getafe won 3-0.
Colleen’s gallery space included this small white wall in the back that I was originally going to leave empty. But why? How many opportunities does one get to show your work? So pulled these b&w abstracts out of a box and pinned them to the wall. They were taken in 1976 and were part of a much larger series. We had a darkroom in our basement at that time with an enlarger that our friend, Kim, gave us. They are in the same key as the rest of the show even if they don’t align with the subtitle, “Recent Work by . . .” The show is up for another week.
Our neighbor, Diana, shops at Costco and they sort of force you to buy too much. She offered us some mangos and we said yes but some other things came along with them. Pairs of cold little pancakes and some flat, chocolate crepes from France. We ate the crepes while we visited with our friends, Rich and Andrea, over Zoom. They told us they had decided who would inherit their houseboat when they passed on.
We told them we had just finished the series finale of “Better Call Saul” and Rich asked if the ending was disappointing. Peggi and I went both ways on that. Diana had already told us last night she didn’t care for the finish. But then she added she is bored with all the shows. The ending was a feel good one and I can see how that might be disappointing.
Our friend, Brad, has moved from the Bay Area back to Rochester. He’s living in a house he inherited, the one where he was living when I first met him in high school, the same one where his mother started screaming at him for singing, “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth,” a line from a popular song at the time
Andrew Cloninger contacted us about playing a gig with his band, Wren Cove, at Joy Gallery on West Main. We didn’t know him or his band but of course we said yes. Galleries are a good place for our band. The floors are usually bare and the acoustics are clear and lively. The people in the room are unusually quiet and that gives us the space to bring it down to a whisper.
Luvon Sheppard is the curator of this space and he was showing work by someone from Alaska. I’m quite sure we parked behind his car because the plates caught our attention. Margaret Explosion has played every gallery in town, a few times. RoCo, Visual Studies, RIT’s Dyer Arts Center, Mercer Gallery at MCC, the Eastman, Memorial Art Gallery and Colleen Buzzard’s space just last week.
I looked at my watch before we started and it was 88 degrees downtown and hotter inside but the door was open to the street. Wren Cove, an improvisational duo with guitar and cello, sounded so beautiful it was startling. We had a cello player sitting in with us years ago and it works so well we couldn’t resist asking Melissa to sit in with us. She fit like a glove.
Don’t mind me if I continue to talk about my show at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. In another ten days most of it will be in boxes. “Los Inmigrantes” are featured on the brightly lit, white wall directly in front of you as you enter the gallery. If you were to turn 270 degrees to your left you would be facing a small black wall with a white pedestal in front of it. I knew this would be the perfect spot for my self portrait and it looked especially good in the daylight when we stopped by the other day.
If Studio 402 hadn’t invited me to participate in their ”Self Portrait” show last winter I probably wouldn’t have titled the piece as such. I was already thinking of the driftwood pieces as bodies, the ones that frequently wash ashore in southern Spain when their overstuffed boats capsize in a desperate attempt to flee poverty. I mounted the more sculptural found pieces, the ones that hold your interest when viewed from all sides, on long finishing nails (like the piece shown above.) And of course that led to creating my own small body.
I picked a piece of oak firewood out of our stack and brought it into the garage. I put in the vice grips and went at it with saws, chisels and files and then drilled a hole in the bottom and mounted it on a nail. I was determined to create a piece as interesting as the ones I found on the beach.
The pieces in this show could easily be read as a disparate collection of work but I get to connect the dots. I think of my “Arcadian Forms” as forms and not shapes even though they are flat colors and two dimensional. The forms are reductions based on the figure, like the self portrait that followed from “Los Inmigrantes.”
Duane lives in Brooklyn but came up for a wedding. He missed the opening so Peggi and I gave him a private showing yesterday afternoon. Colleen was working, adjusting a cloud of steel wool, so the studio was open. We turned on the lights in the gallery and then set up the slideshow while Duane took in the show. It is a little more difficult to get the hallway dark in the middle of the day and I can see in this photo I forgot to temporarily twist that light bulb off but Duane got the picture.
Duane is a camera man by vocation and he helped me, via FaceTime, photograph most of the work in this show. Seeing it in the gallery setting he told me the “Arcadian Forms” were “sexy.” I told him the best thing about the show was moving on from the work. The clean slate is exhilarating. I’ve been stretching some canvases for oils and, of course, I would like to move forward in an orderly direction so I plan to keep the capsualized view of my show (the postcard) top of mind. Like the Guston quote, ”What I’m always seeking is some great simplicity.”
Duane put some serious hours into editing a video he did for Margaret Explosion this summer and he told me when he finished it he was determined to do nothing for while. I can see both strategies. Neither of us have air conditioning and the humidity is thick enough to slow your momentum.