Allegory Of The Month

Gaston LaChaise "The Mountain" Memorial Art Gallery collection
Gaston LaChaise “The Mountain” Memorial Art Gallery collection

I love this sculpture by Gaston LaChaise. It is in the permanent collection of the Memorial Art Gallery. We stopped there yesterday to see the Art Nouveau before it leaves town. Our favorite part was a book in the main gallery that had a section on Moderismo in Barcelona.

A bi-monthly visit to the MAG is always in order if only to see/hear the rotating shows in the Media Room. Ja’Tovia Gary”s “NÉGRESSE IMPÉRIALE,” shot in Claude Monet’s French garden connects her experience as a Black woman with art history.

Maureen Outlaw has some beautiful en plan air paintings in a show that opened last night at the Williams Gallery.

Annie Wells has a stellar band at the moment. We heard them last night the Little Theatre Café, Phil Marshall on guitar, his son Roy on drums Mike Kaupa on trumpet and Dave Arenius on bass. I hope Annie records with this band before one of them leaves town. The band makes magic with Annie’s cool Ice Age song and others by Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Phil Marshall and The Squire himself.

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Pronounced Infrastructure

One of the local wonders of the world, this broken, fake rock, hiding some mysterious machinery, formerly nailed to a surface and now sitting in a parking lot near Starbucks on East Ridge Road.
One of the local wonders of the world, this broken, fake rock, hiding some mysterious machinery, formerly nailed to a surface and now sitting in a parking lot near Starbucks on East Ridge Road.

Jeffery was calling our class a restorative one. We spent good bit of the yoga class on our backs with a rolled up blanket in various positions under our spines. I fell asleep at one point. But before that I was restless. I was noticing all the infrastructure on the walls and especially the ceiling. There is a four-way speaker up there, one horn-like speaker pointed in each direction, maybe something from the nineteen fifties for a duck and cover drill. And then there is a small wooden PA speaker with a grill cloth. I was picturing getting called down to the office on that thing. There is a grey plastic box mounted to the wall with a few short ethernet cables hanging out. And a brand new wifi repeater that looks like it could double as a drone.

The classes held in the small gym in the former Brighton High School administration building. It must have been a grade school at some point. The gym is small, not regulation size for basketball but the sealed wooden floor is lined for free throw marks, half line and out of bounds nonetheless. I spent a lot time in gyms when I was growing up and I feel really comfortable in here.

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Drinking And Driving

Mulched leaves in the back yard
Mulched leaves in the back yard

Just imagine if you were on the cross country ski team this year. Our dental hygentist was telling me her kids meets have been canceled. It was perfect weather for a walk up to Wegmans.

Without the snow covering you notice all sorts of debris along the sidewalks and roadways. I collected discarded drugs bags for a while. I have a project in mind for them. It keeps getting better in my mind. Maybe it will stay there.

Lately we’re noticing more and more little plastic airline-sized bottles of liquor. Not just Fireball whiskey but maple whiskey, vodka and gin. I guess you could paint them and line ’em up.

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Yard Name

View of Lake Ontario from Durand Eastman in mid January.
View of Lake Ontario from Durand Eastman in mid January.

There must be plenty of snow around the corner. Until it flies we will keep walking. Cross country skiing calls on a whole different muscle group and they want their fair share.

We had dinner down the street at our friends’ (and neighbors’) place. Their Jamaican relatives were there and they were talking about how everyone in Jamaica has a nick name, a “yard name.” They were talking like no-one knows your real name. They wanted to know if I had a yard name. Kids called me by my last name for a few years in high school but that doesn’t really count. I told them my name was too short to be abbreviated but that didn’t fly.

I could use a nickname. My one syllable first name is hard to enunciate. When someone on the phone asks “who am I speaking with?” I try to say my name slowly but there is not much there to work with. It makes matters worse. I often just spell it out.

Someone in this morning’s paper described the orange one as a “popinjay.” We looked it up and have added it to our vocabulary.

Here’s a late, unsolicited entry to “If All Rochester Wrote The Same Song.”

"No One Will Ever Know" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“No One Will Ever Know” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.13.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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Contemporary Eyes

Abandoned house on Saint Paul Boulevard in Rochester, New York
Abandoned house on Saint Paul Boulevard in Rochester, New York

“Swatted a fly the other day and thought, Outlived you.”

Like my brother, Mark, I would start reading the New Yorker at the back, in the Critics section, with Peter Schjeldahl’s column on contemporary art. So the news that he was unable to continue writing is devastating. In his exquisite parting essay, “77 Sunset Me,” he says, “Oddly, or not, I find myself thinking about death less than I used to.” I was happy to read that line.

And this: “I like to say that contemporary art consists of all art works, five thousand years or five minutes old, that physically exist in the present. We look at them with contemporary eyes, the only kinds of eyes that there ever are.”

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Under My Radar

Guy with Suicide Shirt in line at Wegman's Pharmacy
Guy with Suicide Silence shirt in line at Wegman’s Pharmacy.

I stood behind this guy at Wegman’s while waiting for my Shingles vaccine. That’s Peggi, off to the right, up at the counter with her backpack on. We were doing a shop on foot. I made a note to look up Suicide Silence when I got home and I found this. Some 87,000,000 people beat me to it. I watched it with the sound off and still heard it.

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Reduced Palette

Colleen Buzzard art work on the white was of Colleen Buzzard's studio gallery.
Colleen Buzzard art work on the white walls of Colleen Buzzard’s studio gallery.

We made some art stops over the weekend and I came home with a few photos which I just got around to looking at. I took a photo of a big red abstract over at Warren Philip’s Gallery. It was painted by John K. Hansegger in 1984 and was part of Warren’is annual Collectors show. I really like the painting. The big red ball like subject was arrived at by painting into the edges with the ground color. It was painted on paper and under glass so my image wound up in the middle of the big red ball.

We stopped by RoCo to see the Member’s Show one more time before it comes down. My piece has sold. We didn’t really get to see the show because artists were giving five minute talks about their work. We were standing in the back talking to Chris Reeg when we we were asked to keep quiet.

Colleen Buzzard’s Studio was our next stop. I has become one of our favorites. She was showing her work this time and the show is a knockout. Colleen has been sneaking color into some of her recent pieces. Not this one. It doesn’t need or want it.

Down the hall on the fourth floor of the Anderson Building Zanne Brunner and Nancy Valle are hosting a self portrait show in their studio. Lots of fun stuff there from some familiar faces.

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Long Live Baldessari

John Baldesari at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea in 2015
John Baldesari at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea in 2015

We were looking at a Giorgio Morandi show at David Zwirner in Chelsea in 2015 when we spotted the tall guy. I tried not to make too much of a fuss but managed to get a few photos. Later I read that Baldessari bought one of the paintings from that show, one of the few paintings he ever purchased. He had great taste. I loved his artwork and was so sad to learn that he passed.

We have run into a few artists over the years and i have a few photos to show for it. I thought I would put a few those shots on Instagram.

We ran into Chuck Close a couple of times. Once at an Alice Neel retrospective where he and the guy pushing his wheelchair were hogging the view of a Neel painting. I was getting upset at how long they were taking and then realized it was Close.

In 2002 we were in Chelsea on a Friday night, popping in and out of galleries. Pace Wildenstein Gallery was showing Chuck Close paintings in the main space and Close’s daguerreotypes in a darkened side room. Most of the work was closely cropped faces of his friends and fellow artists in wooden box-like frames on shelves. The show was opening the following day and Close was one of the few people in the gallery. I watched him push the door open a crack and smoke a cigarette. When he wheeled back in I said hi and asked if I could take his photo. I told him his paintings were psychedelic. He sort of ignored that comment and asked what I thought of the daguerreotypes

At one of the Whitney Biennials there was drum set and some socks in a little room. I had heard them as we entered the show. I went in and played for thirty seconds and came out face to face with Alex Katz. I didn’t get a photo there.

We heard John Zorn performing in a Chelsea gallery on Saturday afternoon and Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson were sitting near us. I snuck a photo but felt bad about it. They were both looked really tired. The MAG brought Jullian Schnabel up to talk and I went. I didn’t know much about him at the time. In 2016 Peggi and I saw him walking around the Metropolitan in his pajamas or cargo pans anyway.

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Lock Number 2

Lock 2 along Genesee Valley Greenway
Lock 2 along Genesee Valley Greenway

Our friend, Kathy, suggested the Genesee Valley Greenway to us. It is an old canal bed that runs from the Genesee River near RIT to the Allegheny River. It was at its peak in 1854 when 5,345 boats passed through Lock Number 2, pictured above. Our friends Jeff and Mary live along the river so we started at their house. They were busy packing for a trip to Mexico so Peggi and I walked it alone. We headed toward Scottsville but didn’t make it. I was picturing us stopping there for a beer. It was like being back on the Camino and it is a lot closer to home I recommend it.

"International Velvet" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 09.04.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“International Velvet” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 09.04.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.

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Pulling The Plug

Turquoise camera case on Durand Eastman beach
Turquoise camera case on Durand Eastman beach on Lake Ontario

There were a lot of people on the beach today, like maybe twenty, twenty five. All it took was a little sunshine. And there was more beach to walk on. I’m wondering if the lake level is already going down. The Saint Lawerence shipping routes are closed for the season so they have lowered the level there. We still have four other Great Lakes upstream of us so we will probably each record high levels again this Spring.

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Y2K + 20

Red and gray building across the street from Saxon Studio near the Public Market
Red and gray building across the street from Saxon Studio near the Public Market

We walked up to Starbucks a little after noon and the place was busier than we have ever seen it. The baristas were joking that everyone had just woken up. It is a seven mile round trip so it takes some time but every bit of it is beautiful to us. Mostly just the spacing out part.

On the way back it started sprinkling and the wind picked up. Then we got an alert, Peggi’s phone and my watch, something like the Amber Alert. “Snow Squall Warning til 2 PM EST. Sudden whiteouts. Icy Roads. Slow down!” It did snow but its winter.

Twenty years ago Pete LaBonne, who sometimes came to our New Year’s party, sent us a song of his to play at midnight 1999. We did, right after Prince’s song. “Shut down your computer now baby.”

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Smashing Mailboxes

Center Entrance mailboxes after being hit by a car
Center Entrance mailboxes after being hit by a car

It must have been noon or one when we cut through Center Entrance on our way up to the lake and it would appear none of the four houses that collect their mail here had even noticed that their mailboxes had been hit overnight. One of the boxes still had mail in it and a morning newspaper was thown on top. We thought about setting them upright so the mailman could deliver the mail this afternoon but then there is that whole federal crime for tampering with US mail thing so we continued on.

When my brother was here over Christmas we took a walk with him along Hoffman Road and noticed someone had run off the road down there. They skinned all the bark off a tree and left a pile of plastic car parts in their wake. Too much holiday cheer.

My dentist doesn’t work Fridays. He gets a three day weekend and he deserves it. On Thursday I was eating some of Peggi’s Mahogany Almonds, a recipe she got from Karen Miltner when she used to work for our ever string paper. It’s roasted almonds with Chinese five spice and maple syrup. Something cracked in the back of mouth and by the afternoon I had a bad toothache, one of those where you can’t ever smile without it hurting. I made it through the night but kept waking up in pain. Funny thing is it seemed to quiet down as the weekend unfolded.

I called him at eight this morning he got me in at ten. They took an X-ray and showed me the crack. It will need to be pulled but it has a cap and its already the post for a bridge that will have to be rebuilt. This time the bridge will have to straddle two missing teeth. It gives a headache thinking about it.

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Perambulating

Hairdresser near Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York
Hairdresser near Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York

Our Netflix dvd, Jean Renoir’s “The Rules of the Game,” has been kicking’ around the house for weeks now. We tried it one night but feel asleep. You need to be fully rested for this 1939 classic. It plays like a non stop dance with the actors and camera swirling about in a witty, fluid, fast paced, stunning display of moving pictures. Jean Renoir stars and he is as good an actor as he is a director. The dialog skewers the Bourgeois as well as Buñuel’s “Discreet Charm” and despite being eighty years old it feels completely contemporary.

We shop at the co-op once a month with our 10% member’s discount and we almost ran out of days this month to take advantage. We parked in their lot and walked over to Park Avenue looking for a cup of coffee. We stopped in to see my sister at Parkleigh but she had the day off. She was living there in the run-up to Christmas.

We had to get out early today in order to beat the rain. We walked through the Park and along the lake. We turned up Horseshoe Road and walked around the clubhouse, across the golf course and up Hoffman Road. We were temporarily perambulating and then we headed home.

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Chill Pill

Lake Ontario in late December
ILake Ontario in late December

I know I’m not the only one who finds the holidays stressful but I feel lucky to have an antidote. A walk to the lake is a chill pill for me, one that works every time. I loved having my family over for dinner on Christmas Eve, a good part of them anyway. My stress comes from the string of holiday parties, friends in from out of town, the holiday shows, all the activity packed into a two week period. I just want to stay home and watch Perry Mason.

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I’ll Take It

Christmas tree at Eastview Mall
Christmas tree at Eastview Mall

It was like Christmas in LA when we would stay with Peggi’s sister or Christmas in Savannah where Peggi’s parents retired to when they left Detroit. Rochester has had temperatures near 50 degrees and blue skies. It just ain’t right. But I’ll take it.

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Happy As Can Be

Santa on the corner of Garson and Goodman in Rochester, New York
Santa on the corner of Garson and Goodman in Rochester, New York

I discarded this picture at first but couldn’t let it go. Peggi was driving and I saw Santa up ahead on the corner where Webster splits off of Goodman. I rolled down the widow, just like I did with anti-vexers in a post from a few days ago, but then I mis-timed the shot and failed to get Santa’s attention.

I’m always composing in the frame and and only clicking when I feel it is right but this approach misses so much, not to mention chance. Our friend, Duane, sent us up one of those beautiful Robert Frank books on Steidl. The master uses an incredible toolbox of approaches to image making and he is an inspiration.

The shot above captures quite a bit. The turquoise house on Garson that matches the utility box. The shapes of the bare trees against the deep blue sky and the curve of this intersection. The rear view mirror on our car. The yellow signal light hanging over the street and the Walk sign that caught only half of on the left. There is a convince stare in the direction Santa is facing and he probably greeting one the patrons. We take this route every trip downtown and are usually stopped by the light. I don’t think it has ever look so good.

And the shot captures my connection to Christmas at this point. I am mostly an observer. No tree and nothing under it but happy as can be.

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Another Day In Paradise

Rubino's on East Ridge Road Road in Rochester
Rubino’s on East Ridge Road Road in Rochester

Rubino’s is about eight miles round trip, a nice walk on a good day. Thursday was not not a good day in the traditional sense. It was a beautiful day with snowfall heavy enough to narrow traffic on East Ridge Road to one lane in each direction. We stomped our feet and brushed off before crossing the threshold at Starbucks where the baristas were giddy. There was hardly anyone in the place and our server congratulated us on braving the elements.

Rubino’s was packed with holiday shoppers. We bought two tubs of olives for our holiday party and gallon of olive oil for general purposes. Near the secret sidewalk that runs off Kings Highway we saw someone collecting his mail. Before we could say hi he looked up and said, “Another day in paradise.” It wasn’t even snowing when we left The house and by the time we got to the cemetery on our return trip the sky was turning blue.

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Rainbow Drive

Delivery truck stuck in the snow on Rainbow Drive
Delivery truck stuck in the snow on Rainbow Drive

Were were headed out for a walk but I had to finish something on my computer. Peggi was shoveling the driveway while she waited for me. We only had an inch or so. I heard dance music cranking out there and then Peggi talking to someone so I took my time. When I got out there Peggi told me she was chatting with a delivery guy. He told her they gave him 300 packages to deliver each day. And he had a cold. But he got a little too friendly when he asked her how long she has lived here.

We walked down Hoffman Road Road and at the very end, where Rainbow Drive darts up the hill, we saw the delivery guy. His radio was silent and he was standing outside the van which had slid off the road and came to a halt against this tree. He told us the red light at the top of the back door was smashed but he seemed completely unconcerned. We chatted some more and took off.

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Imperial Sounds

Ucal Bernard drawing of his brother-in-law's store on Chili Avenue in Rochester, New York
Ucal Bernard drawing of his brother-in-law’s store on Chili Avenue in Rochester, New York

Ucal Bernard lived in Jamaica where he made money by doing drawings for the tourists. Most of his family lives in Rochester so when Ucal passed away recently they held a celebration of his life at the Baobab Cultural Center on University Avenue. Ucal’s artwork, mostly pencil drawings on big sheets of paper, was hanging on the gallery walls.

Ucal was our neighbor’s youngest brother so the group moved to his house for food and drink after the celebration. Our neighbor showed us a big volume of Ucal’s drawings, dramatic fantasy-like drawings, many with voluptuous women. I found them inspiring.

One of the drawings in the show (above) was done when Ucal was in Rochester. It depicts his brother-in-law’s record store on Chili Avenue in 1996. I had heard about this shop from my neighbor and we had met Courtney, the owner, at his house. I asked Courtney what the address was and found out it was right next door to where the Dodd/Miller Tavern (formerly the Munich Restaurant) was, at the corner of Thurston.

I sent Duane the drawing. Duane went to West High and grew up in the neighborhood. In the late seventies we used to buy imported Jamaican 45s from Andy’s shop on Genesee Street and I remember checking out some other places with Duane but all he remembered the reggae shop by Bullshead or further down West Main near Jefferson. I see a date of 1996 in the bottom corner of this drawing so that is after our time and long after my grandfather’s.

Business card for Munich Restaurant in Rochester, New York circa 1940
Business card for Munich Restaurant in Rochester, New York

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Not Kidding

Anti Vaccine people on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford
Anti Vaccine people on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford

Funny how all these signs look alike, like Barbara Kruger made them all. And kind of creepy how some parents enlist their kids to stand out in the rain in front of Pittsford Plaza with signs they couldn’t possible understand. The little guy in the green mittens and a red Santa hat is holding one that reads “Vaccine Mandates Violate Bodily Anatomy.”

There were about twenty of these signs out there with variations of the same message. “Stop Government Research.” “HPV Vaccine Known To Cause Death.” I rolled the car window down to photograph them and one women with a sign smiled at my like I was a supporter. I shouted, “You’ve got to be kidding” and she shouted back, “No, we’re not!”

My brother’s lady friend celebrated her 60th birthday last night out at Trio on Winton Road. The sign above the door reads “Drink, Dine Dance,” a trio of “D” words. The agenda makes life easy.

The bar had 80’s videos playing on the big screen without the sound and they looked especially fun that way. At some point a dj or vj, someone who appeared older than we are, got in the booth and stood in front of two big shelves of 12 inch records. The sound system kicked in and the videos were all current hits. I went up to check out his set up and saw a turntable off to the side with some stuff piled on top it. There were two digital turntables front and center, those little ones that look big enough for a cd. He wasn’t using those either. Instead he stood in front of a touch screen monitor with a playlist of videos. The wind kind of goes out of the room when everyone is focused on the video images.

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