We slept with our windows open last night to take in the trilling coming from the pond next door. We ran into our neighbors out at the mailbox today and told them how much we enjoyed the sound. Jared told us there were about twenty five pairs of toads getting it down there. We had to for ourselves.
The males are usually smaller than the females and they are the ones that make all the noise. That’s how they attract the females. It works like a charm. The pond looks like a whore house with extra males calling and waiting their turn.
“Do golf carts have horns?” I wondered aloud as we got to the end of the trail near Horseshoe Road. It turned out to be a bagpiper player filling his air sack. The golf course just opened a few days ago and already I’ve found 13 balls near the trails that skirt the course.
A group of plein air artists were setting up along the lake and it was warm enough for a few people to stroll the beach in bathing suits. We stayed up on the sidewalk. A motorized bike came up behind us with with the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” playing. We stepped aside and watched a smiling, rather round man with a grey beard drift by. His tires were fat and only about a foot tall.
The Snowy Magnolias on Zoo Road were especially fragrant and already dropping their flower petals, living up to their name.
Since we walk everyday we like to vary the route as much as possible. We have our favorite paths in the woods and our favorite streets, of course, and lately we try to include a good stretch of beach walking. Lake Ontario is a foot below normal for this time of year so there is plenty of sand. We go out for somewhere near five miles and avoid taking the same way back to our house. It is like a meditation. And it is exciting to have a destination. Home Depot, Starbucks, the library, Rubino’s, Amen’s or the post office.
Things catch your eye. Birds, trees, boats, houses, funky lawn ornaments and lately a lot of discarded masks. I found these squashed beer cans and I’m submitting them to this year’s Rochester Contemporary 6×6 show.
We are so lucky Peter Schjeldahl is still writing art criticism for The New Yorker. He enriches our lives with each column. I keep thinking eachwill be his last.
And how can it be that Roberta Smith, one of the sole art critic champions of Philip Guston’s late sixties work (at the time), can still be at the top of her game, writing for the New York Times. Alice Neel has been one of my favorite painters since I first laid eyes on her work. Neel is the subject of a retrospective and Ms. Smith knocks it out of the park with her review of the show.
“It is said that the future is female, and one can only hope. But it is important to remember that the past, through continuous excavation, is becoming more female all the time. The latest evidence is the gloriously relentless retrospective of Alice Neel (1900-1984), the radical realist painter of all things human.”
We saw a Alice Neel show in Chelsea at Zwirner in 2012 and a few paintings at the Met Breuer in 2016. And twenty years ago, at the last Neel retrospective at the Whitney, we ran into Chuck Close where he and the guy pushing his wheelchair were hogging our view of a Neel painting. I was getting upset at how long they were taking and then backed off when I realized it was Close.
The Eastman has a Maplethorpe portrait of Alice which they’ve pulled out a few times over the years. That is about as close as we can get to her in this town.
I reworked most of my small pencil sketches and then created these black and white versions of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. And I altered a few of these after taking this photo. I cut one of the plastic panels, I’ve had in the basement for so long, down to 14 x 17 and gave it a coat of Gesso. I plan to scale these drawings up and paint the panel in three colors, black, cream and a blood red.
We drove out to Clifton Springs this afternoon to see the Diner’s Club show at Main Street Arts. Bradley Butler, the director, was editing a video of the artists in the show and had it posted to YouTube by the time we got back home. It was good to see so many red dots on the walls. Pandemic money finding its priorities.
The wildly diverse work, by Christina Bang, Paul Brandwein, Edward Buscemi, Tarrant Clements, Bob Conge, Kurt Feuerherm, Bill Hand, William Keyser, Susan Mandl, Peter Monacelli and George Wegman was hung shown in a mixed fashion not clustered by artist and is even richer than the sum of its parts.
Bill Keyser’s work, both sculpture and painting, certainly stands out in a crowd. I was particularly taken by “Drift.” Pete Monacelli’s drawings/paintings are multilayered mysteries. Ed Buscemi has a Carborundum print here that I would have taken home if wasn’t already sold. We marveled at Kurt Feuerherm’s metal bases for his animal sculptures, primitive masterpieces in their own rite. The show is an experience.
We probably won’t be able to watch as much television when this pandemic is over and that is probably a good thing. Maybe we can trim our programing bill. We’re finding some dynamite stuff on HBO. “Olive Kitterridge ” is the best thing we have seen since Breaking Bad. Our bass player, Ken Frank, turned us on to that one. Frances McDormand kills it and Richard Jenkins, who plays her husband, is sensational.
A few years back we rationalized getting an Apple Music subscription by looking at the monthly costs as the price of buying one album. Yesterday we streamed Pharaoh Sanders new one, his first in twenty years, and Archie Shepp’s duo with Jason Moran. It was the early seventies all over again and it felt good.
We put our third row of greens in this afternoon, a short row of arugula next to the spinach and butter crunch. We’ll plant more of each in a few weeks and work the Swiss chard, mesclun and kale in. We started some of this indoors last year but found the things we planted directly were more productive. It was warm enough today to break out the Cumbia records and have dinner on the porch.
We are in the middle of a soccer drought as La Liga is off for Holy Week. We knew this was coming so to tide us over we recorded a Sevilla match. They are in fourth place just behind Atletico, Barcelona and Real Madrid, our three favorite teams. It looked like Sevilla was going to lose 1-0 to Valladolid but in the last minute of stoppage time they pulled out all the stops, left their goal empty and guess who put the tying goal in the net. Bono, the Montreal born Moroccan goalie!
Peggi just finished re-reading Strangers on a Train. (I think that might still be her favorite movie. I haven’t checked in a while.) Peggi read Patricia Highsmith’s bio and passed that on to Louise. We watched the French version of the Talented Mr. Ripley a few days ago and found it much more exiting than the American one which we loved. We plan to watch that again tonight. And last night we rewatched Carol. I hardly remembered it but loved it this time.
I’ve already dumped this layout for Roman numeral 1 and I have a pad full of alternate versions for the others. I don’t usually do so many sketches before painting. I prefer to just jump right in especially when the medium is malleable. But I would like these 14 Stations to be either positive or negative and sometimes both with nothing in between. So I can’t just push paint around. The expression is in the shapes/forms of course but also in the edges.
I was born on the feast day of St. Paul of the Cross and feel destined to do a version of the Stations of the Cross. I started one in the mid nineties but I got bogged down in source material. I created digital composites of of my sources and generated 14 large ink jet prints which I hung in the Bug Jar during Lent 1998. I submitted “Passion Play” to the Finger Lakes exhibition in 1999 and won a couple of awards. This project has been on my mind for a long time and it has been thrilling work on it during Lent.
We’ve come across work by Eduardo Chillida in Spain and recently at Hauser Wirth in NYC and I started this project by doing a charcoal drawing based on one of his pieces. He is primarily a sculptor but I love his two dimensional work. When I’m happy with the sketches I’ll scale them up to fit these 14″ x 17″ plastic panels that I’ve been itching to paint on. I gues that means acrylic paint.
We couldn’t decide who this guy looks like. Sort of a cross between Michael McDonald and Ricky Nelson or maybe Brian Williams from Bobbie Henrie & The Goners. Someone had left a few Jehovah’s Witness pamphlets in the pocket of the information board in the park. “Please join us for the annual commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ. The date, time and location will be Saturday, March 27, 2021. Scan code for additional information.” That’s today!
Our lenten roses are in fact blooming on Palm Sunday.
High winds were forecast until 4 PM so we planned a route that would circle our house in case we had to run for cover. It was raining when we left and pouring before we got to the end of our street. A small stream of water was running along the edge of the road at the top of the big hill on Hoffman. It grew bigger on the way down. Jack Koffman was out at the road picking up his paper. We surprised him. He said, “It’s raining guys.”
There is a big drain across the street from him where the runoff goes down and then under the road before emptying into the creek. The creek was overflowing as it raced further toward the lake. Tom from Whispering Pines was out by the road in rain gear. He laughed and said, “You guys are hard core.” He pointed to the impromptu stream that was flowing across his property, run off from his son’s ATV tracks, and then to the drain that he had just freed up in hopes of keeping his yard from flooding.
By the time we got to the marsh the rain was letting up. We confirmed that it is just as pretty on a dark, wet, dreary day as it is on a sunny one. The birds didn’t seem to mind.
When the 4 o’clock hour passed we went out with a wheelbarrow and picked up sticks around the house. We use them for kindling and may just start a fire tonight now the temperature has dropped.
There are still a few pockets of snow but the dog shit has thawed in the park. I’m guessing people drop these bags along the main arteries thinking they will pick them up on the way back. At least they pick the stuff up. The clear plastic sandwich baggies with poop in it are a little disturbing though. It seems most people bring their dogs to the park so they don’t have to pick it up.
We played horseshoes today, my neighbor and I. It’s the earliest start to the year that I can remember. They are usually in Florida at this time but this year is different.
We sunk and hour’s worth of quarters in a parking meter downtown and stopped in to see Rochester Contemporary’s “Last Year on Earth” show. It is not intended to be entirely enjoyable but much of it was. Ong Siraphisut’s impressive “Tumeric and Charcoal” drawings fill the first wall, all portraits of virus victims. It sets the tone for the show.
Martha O’Conner created a big red book over the year and embroidered relevant haikus on its pages. We watched someone read every page and we did the same. Some of the work literally addressed the pandemic and some could only be construed as referencing the pandemic. I wanted to look at artwork so the premiss was bothersome. The pandemic has stolen enough time and energy. I checked the time.
Just enough left on the meter tossup into the video room in the back of the gallery where the mood changed entirely. “The Road We’re On,” a short film by Rochester Homeless Union and the NYS Poor Peoples Campaign, was an unlikely rocket ship of positive energy. Patrick Braswell eloquently expressed what he saw, how his perception changed and then, as the camera followed him addressing the needs of the homeless, exactly what can be done about it. Only later did I learn that Braswell had died suddenly in February. He lived an artful life. His artwork, a day in the life of the Rochester Homeless Union, stole the show at RoCo. Patrick Braswell is a saint in my book.
Celebrate the life and work of Patrick Braswell Sunday, March 21st at 6pm via livestream on the Rochester Homeless Union Facebook or YouTube page
I started this project a few years ago and it took a pandemic to finish it. From a box of aspiring model headshots (photos that were sent to us when we doing commercial art) I chose pairs and then swapped the top of one for the top of the other. If you like this sort of thing there are 47 pieces in the series and they can all be view as a slideshow here.
When we lived in the city, Carrol’s was our corner bar. We’d walk up there just before noon on the 17th. Shamrock Jack’s is the closet Irish place to us now but that has gotten crazy. I think already had a huge tent set up in their parking lot last when everything shut down. You can’t beat crowds there so we looked for greener pastures.
Google Maps estimated it would take us an hour and seven minutes to walk to the Bayside in Webster. We called before leaving home and ordered two corned beef sandwiches to go. I put two beers in my pocket and Peggi and I celebrated Saint Patty’s at a picnic table overlooking the lake across the street from the restaurant. The McKeil Spirit was just pulling out of the Port of Rochester after dropping a load cement at Turning Point terminal. The sun came out while we we eating and turned the water turquoise.
We looked in on the premature post-pandemic scene at Shamrock Jack’s on our way back. The picnic tables in the parking lot looked safe but the bar was crowded and loud. A good place to test our vaccine but we moved on.
We learned yesterday that the last of the Tierneys has passed, my mom’s cousin, from the Maloney/Tierney side. We will toast her with some cherry water tonight.
We nit meeting around. We’ve picked some forsythia clipping at different stages and their yellow blossoms are popping in our living room. We brought home a few clippings of fragrant witch hazel and our house smells like butterscotch. We have our seed packets out and the little plastic pots. The garden season has begun. The red wing blackbirds are our official bird and they are back, the early arrivals anyway, atop the tall grasses and dead trees that surround the marsh. Their call stops us dead in our tracks.
So many funky places to live. We walked down to the bay and found clusters of homes we never noticed before. Places that you can only get to by foot and can only see when the trees are bare. Seneca Road dead ends here at the Newport Yacht Club, thankfully not as fancy as it sounds. Just to the south Titus Avenue winds its way down to the bay. You can see the last of the homes on that street from here but you can only get there by boat. And to the north Point Pleasant goes down a steep hill to a gated community of condos but the road splits off into the forever funky Schnackel Drive and the private access walkway that leads by foot only to at least ten more homes that line the shore. All these neighborhoods are a short walk and each one makes you feel like you’ve left town.
Exactly one year ago today we had two other couples over for dinner. In our house without masks! An event we had arranged at the Little Cafe where Margaret Explosion was playing that Wednesday, the night news broke that Tom Hanks and his wife had Covid. Our house guest, Steve Black, had just left that morning. We went into lockdown the next day. Fast forward in a year that somehow went both fast and slow and we are only one week from being fully vaccinated. That is we had our second jab one week ago.
We had a 3 o’clock appointment at Kathy’s house today to sit by the bay and watch the birds. Mostly gulls fishing at the edge of what’s left of the ice cover, but a few Junior Bald Eagles floated overhead. Kathy haunts estate sales, the tail end of them that is, when prices have been slashed, so she had a box of binoculars. Mine were made by Bushnell and Peggi found a Sears pair that worked for her. We spent most of our time looking at the houses on the other side in Webster. Some had staircases built into the hillside that descended five or six stories at least. The temperature was seventy when we left at five and the two hours felt like a mini vacation.