Love Letter


Zanne Brunner and Nancy Valle have organized another “Sight & Sound” show (2012201320162020) in their studio. It will open the first Friday in February and I was planning to do some abstract watercolors based on a series of photos I have taken in Spain over the years. I spent quite a bit of time culling the photos and then sequencing them and eventually decided to enter the photos themselves. I’m calling it “Abstracting Spain.”

I have them running on an old iMac and will carry that up to their space for the show. I dressed up the grey brushed metal screen frame with some black duct tape. We saw Nancy last night and she was trying to talk me into showing them on their projector but I am concerned the studio won’t be dark enough at the opening.

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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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Look Out

Bill Keyser Show at Universty Gallery RIT. "Sweep" and "White Intrusion" 2013
Bill Keyser Show at Universty Gallery RIT. “Sweep” and “White Intrusion” 2013

Bill Keyser has a few degrees, a mechanical engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon, an MFA in furniture design from RIT where he taught until 1997. That year he woke from a dream with a feeling that there was something very important he needed to do. He transitioned from furniture to sculpture and fine art while picking up another degree, an MFA in painting in sculpture. I met him in Fred Lipp’s painting class at the Creative Workshop. After all that school he told me Fred was the best teacher he ever had. 

His show, “Painting and Sculpture 2009 – 2019,” at RIT’s University Gallery is an eyeful. The two paintings shown above are my favorites but the large gallery has sculptures and paintings interspersed with one another all competing for your attention in riotous colors. 

Bill’s paintings are sculptural. They efficiently (masterly) animate their own physical space and incorporate the environment they sit in just as his sculptures do. The ideas in his paintings on found metal panels spring from the shape of the panel itself. The cut out corner becomes a beam in “Beam” and the angle in “Look Out” leads to another plane. I was particularly attracted to to his sculpture entitled “Pueblo.” In two milk paint colors  it is as elegant as a Chillida. The show runs to December 20th so you have plenty of time. 

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Mind Full

Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s painting Wedding Dance in the Open Air at Palacio de Gaviria
Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s painting Wedding Dance in the Open Air at Palacio de Gaviria

We worked our way over to the Palacio de Gaviria this morning where four generations of the Brueghel/ Bruegel family were having a show. It goes without saying that Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) is the master but there was so much life depicted here by the whole family that one can’t be picky. Funny to think the Bourgeoisie bought these paintings because they recognized the joy depicted by real people, the common folk.

The family was able to visualize and depict the four elements, a perfect companion to Joe Henderson’s lp, the virtues and parables as well as the Tower of Babel and the temptation of Saint Anthony.

An additional café con leche at Café Gijon, the legendary literary salon, fortified us for the next stop, “El Sueno de la Razón,” paintings by painters influenced by Goya’s Las Pinturas Negras at Fernán Gómez. It was two hundred years ago that Goya painted the walls of his apartment with his so called black paintings. Everybody from Anselm Kiefler, Robert Longo, Antonio Saura and incredible animations from William Kentridge were included but none landed like Goya’s punch. An acknowledgement and fitting tribute to the master.

Our minds are full.

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Colgados De Un Sueno

Museo de Arte Abstracto Español
Museo de Arte Abstracto Español

Margarita at Antonio Machón Gallery suggested we take a day trip to Cuenca, where the ancient hanging houses are, to see a show of Antiono Tapies’ work. The high speed Ave train to Valencia, whose first stop is Cuenca, was almost completo but we scored the last seats. I wound up sitting in Coche 7 and Peggi was in Coche 8. We were there in no time and inside the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español when they opened their doors at 11.

We have been going to museums for many years, starting long before they got so popular, and I have never seen a museum as beautiful as this one. The setting and art enhance one another and both are astonishing. They made an award winning movie about it.

The museum opened in 1966 when the wealthy artist, Fernando Zóbel, bought the fifteenth century building which just so happens to hang over the gorge of the Huécar. He bought the work of Spain’s best young abstract artists, his friends, in real time and built an astonishing collection. Tápies, Chillida, Muñoz, Millares, Sempere, Torner, Saura and Guerrero. 

As a bonus, their rotating gallery featureS exquisite prints from Picasso’s Vollard Suite.

We left the Museo just as they were closing for the afternoon meal. The staff recommended the perfect restaurant for us. We sat outside and had the bast green salad of our whole trip. Baby spinach sprigs, walnuts, mushrooms, goat cheese, a sliver of caramelized ham, cherry tomatoes, and a thick dark vinaigrette.

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Otras Formas De Vida

Sara Ramo tapestry at Alcala 31 in Madrid
Sara Ramo tapestry at Alcala 31 in Madrid

We have a well worn path in Las Letras section of Madrid and we always stay somewhere close to it. We have our favorite restaurants, cafés, book stores and holy card shops inside the triangle and it is surrounded by museums and art galleries. Cervantes’ home is in Las Letras and poetry from him, Calderon de la Barca and Lope de Vega is written on the sidewalks. There is a statue of Lorca in Plaza Santa Anna. Each visit we venture further out of this historic old section.

After a few cups of coffee we walked up and down Calle del Doctor Fourquet where all the new galleries are. It was a lot of fun but like some visits to Chelsea you sometimes leave hungry.

We had an afternoon meal at a restaurant that is over three hundred years old. Goya worked here while waiting to be accepted at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes and of course Hemingway hung out in the place.

Sara Ramo, a Brazilian artist, who has a show at Alcala 31, does these beautiful tapestries. She showed twenty here and each was a knockout.

Antonio Saura mixed media at Antonio Machon Gallery in Madrid
Antonio Saura mixed media at Antonio Machon Gallery in Madrid

António Machón Gallery would be uptown if it was in NYC. We have gotten to know the galley owner there and bought print from her last year. We stopped in and visited this afternoon and she pulled out some stunning pieces from her white flat files. Tàpies, Chilida, António Saura and Jose Guererro. We are no longer hungry.

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Early Learned

Kenneth Martin sculpture "Early Learned" 2017 on display at Warren Philips Gallery in Rochester, New York
Kenneth Martin sculpture “Early Learned” 2017 on display at Warren Philips Gallery in Rochester, New York

Even art has an off season and it needs it. September’s First Friday signaled game on. We started at the William’s Gallery in the Unitarian Church where Jim Thomas showed recent  pastel drawings of stones as seen through water and then abstracted. They played really well with Don Burkel’s close up photos of the Maine Coast. Jim said he was working on a different project altogether, large abstract paintings like the beauty he had in the recent Arena Group show. Bill Keyser was there and told us he is preparing for a retrospective at the University gallery at RIT. Known primarily as a woodworker, I asked if he was still painting and he said he was still working on a few that he started in Fred Lipp’s class.

We stopped in the RIT Gallery downtown, a show with work from four faculty members, an academic show. Despite having a gallery space downtown I’m always struck by how isolated the RIT scene, the artists, the art and even the gallery visitors are from the city. I wish they would have back downtown.

We fully expected the Anne Havens show at Colleen Buzzard’s studio to be the smash of the evening and it didn’t disappoint. Her work is smart, expressive and most most importantly, pure fun. Anne offered to meet us at the gallery for a guided tour and we plan to take her up on it.

At Warren Philips Gallery, where you might expect to see work experts framed and hung, we found mostly wood constructions on stands, the floor and some on the wall. Kenneth Martin’s work is playful, mysterious and beautiful.  I was particularly attracted to this concrete. And mixed media piece entitled “Early Learned.” I asked Ken what his formula was for the concrete and gave it up. 

3 parts mortar mix,1 part Portland cement and Acrylic concrete additive instead of water, all available at Home Depot.

We finished the night at 3 Heads Brewery where Bob Henrie and the Goners were tearing it up. Still my favorite band in the city.

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Work From Life

Bonnie Graves Nude Sculpture at Creative Workshop in Rochester, New York
Bonnie Graves Nude Sculpture at Creative Workshop in Rochester, New York

We like entering the MAG through the Creative Workshop. We were there to see the the Finger Lakes show but we started with the student show in the Workshop. I’m quite sure Dejan Pejovic is a good teacher. His students’s work rises to the top. This small sculpture was done by Bonnie Graves and it was probably done from a live model. I know Dejan likes to work from life. It is worthy of one of my favorites, Gaston LaChaise.

Pat Pauli, Colleen Buzzard, Belinda Bryce, Nancy Jurs and Lee Hoag all have especially nice pieces in the show. Dejan’s sister, Lanna Pejovic, has a nice four panel treescape oil painting as well. I liked Andrew Zimbelman’s animation and Carol Woodlock’s “Woman Walking” video was beautiful.

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The Art of Connection:

Gallery wall at The Yards in the Public Market, Rochester,New York
Gallery wall at The Yards in the Public Market, Rochester, New York

Jim Mott amazes me with his ability to capture a scene on a small scale in a rather short period of time like maybe an hour. He paints in oil on cardboard and the finished piece is consistently true to the color in front of him. Nothing in his finished image is overworked yet they are perfectly readable. His paintings remain painterly and fun to look at. But Jim is looking for something else. He wants to make a connection with his work.

He gave a talk, “The Art of Connection: 20 Years of Socially-Engaged Art Projects,” at The Yards at the Public Market and passed a short stack of his paintings around the room as he showed slides. He grew up wanting to be a local artist but found it was impossible to make any money. And furthermore, nobody seemed to really care. He became disgruntled.

In 2000 he placed a small ad in the New Yorker offering to paint pictures at strangers’ homes in exchange for hospitality. He arranged tours that took him across the country and back several times. He estimates he has been to 200 homes and each time the homeowner chose one the paintings he did at their place to keep for themselves. Jim brought the rest home. His presentation contained a bar chart that showed how much more productive he was on the road compared to staying at home. It was dramatic.

Last year he came up with a Landscape Lottery project where locations were chosen by random GPS corordinates. It took him to some strange places like the middle of a parking lot where he found he had to work harder to make a good painting and they were often some of his best.

He told us he is looking for new ideas for his next project so he has us thinking.

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High Pockets

"Uncle Ray" Paul Dodd Painting from 1990 Pyramid Arts Center show entitled "The City" Acrylic house paint on billboard paper, 54" wide by "60" high
“Uncle Ray” Paul Dodd Painting from 1990 Pyramid Arts Center show entitled “The City” Acrylic house paint on billboard paper, 54″ wide by “60” high

Ray Tierney II, my mom’s only brother (she had four sisters) was my godfather. I guess I would have gone to live with the Tierney’s if something had happened to my parents. I had a godmother too, one of my father’s sisters, Aunt Helen, who at the time of my baptism was unmarried. She was my parent’s go-to sitter. Ray already had a family of his own.

My grandfather, also named Ray Tierney, owned a grocery store on North Street with two of his brothers. He was dynamo so it was only natural that his son and Ray Tierney III went into the grocery business. I worked there during high school and eventually was in charge of ordering for the dog food and paper aisles. Fellow workers would send newbies out in the dark to take down the flag (there was none) or into the back room for shelf stretchers. They referred to my uncle as “High Pockets.”

I was certain my uncle had left the store when I snagged a banana cream pie and took it in the cooler where I climbed up on the milk crates to work on the pie. I didn’t have any silverware so I was holding the whole pie up to my mouth when my uncle walked in. When I told Ray III this story he said, “Don’t worry, he probably saved the empty box and got credit for the pie.”

I painted this picture of my uncle in 1990 for a Pyramid Arts Center show entitled “The City.” It was one of ten large portrayals of one member of each family in my extended family, a show intended to show the connection between family and place.

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Beyond Knowledge

Piero Manzoni “Lines” show at Hauser Wirth in Chelsea.
Piero Manzoni “Lines” show at Hauser Wirth in Chelsea.

“The artist knows what he is doing, but for it to be worthwhile, he must take the leap and do what he doesn’t know how to do. In that moment he is beyond knowledge.” – Eduardo Chillida

Hauser Wirth has been a must stop in Chelsea for years. Their incredible stable of living and dead artists (Guston, Hesse, Golub, Bourgeois and Chillida), their book shop, cafe/bar and their exciting new exhibition space going up next door are all hallmarks of an advancing civilization.

The Shed, a brand new performing arts space at the top of the High Line, is the only sign of an advancing civilization in the former Hudson Yards. It is completely engulfed by piles of new glass buildings and a Neiman Marcus shopping experience. We walked up here for a 5 pm performance of “Reich, Richter, Part” and it was a transcendent experience.

We were studying Richter’s gorgeous tapestries and floor to ceiling Rorschach prints when performers, standing in our midst, one right next to me, began singing Arvo Part’s choral composition, a piece that enriched the visuals. The Shed attendants opened the second gallery where we heard an ensemble playing Steve Reich’s Patterns while an animated, nothing short of psychedelic, Richter film animated one of his paintings.

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Money Laundering

Amy Robinson Gendrou Over and Over Again at Colleen Buzzard Sudio
Amy Robinson Gendrou Over and Over Again at Colleen Buzzard Sudio

I went down for the count for a few days. Didn’t have the energy to sit at my computer. We were making the rounds on First Friday and I felt pretty good at Colleen Buzzard’s. I was loving Amy Robinson Gendrou’s drawings, paintings and whatever you pieces that involve string or thread mounted to drawings and paintings. But by the time we got to RoCo for the opening of the Cut & Paste show I felt like I had been beat up. I was so out of it for the next couple days I put my pants in the laundry with my wallet in the pocket.

I am on the mend now and the restorative yoga class Jeffery taught tonight was just the ticket. It would have been a perfect class if he hadn’t read a Yoga Sutra during Savasana. I was thinking about how Suzanne, our old yoga teacher, used to drop a small bean bag on our eyes during deep relaxaton.

Suzanne’s hair spilled down to her waist and some people called her Gypsy. When she did a forward bend she could fold up like a jack knife. She taught class in her living room and the only equipment or props that we used were bolsters, which she had piled up in a corner. We didn’t bring anything, not even a yoga mat. We used to walk down Culver to her house on Vermont Street and then stop and pick up a slice on the way back from Romano’s Pizzeria.

Now, we bring mats, blocks, straps, tennis balls and a towel which Peggi and I use when Jeffery says, “OK, get out your blankets.” Props are for old people.

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Police Composites

Paul Dodd collage "Police Composite 04"
Paul Dodd collage “Police Composite 04”

I submitted a few of my Police Composite collages in Rochester Contemporary’s “Cut & Paste” show and one got in. I’m not sure which one got in but I’m guessing it was this one. The show opens tomorrow night and features collage artwork by over 100 artists. That is one surefire way to get a big crowd at the opening.

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All My Plans

Painting entitled "All My Plans" by Paul Brandwein at Geisel Gallery in Rochester, New York
Painting entitled “All My Plans” by Paul Brandwein at Geisel Gallery in Rochester, New York

I particularily like this acrylic painting by Paul Brandwein at the Geisel Gallery downtown. Entitled “All My Plans,” I read his riotously colorful structure as big enough to claim the plans but too porous to contain them. And a reminder to pick your battles, let some things go and keep a few to kick around some more.

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Generation Z

Nancy Wiley Generation Z portraits at Main Street Arts
Nancy Wiley Generation Z portraits at Main Street Arts

Clifton Springs is only 55 cents away on the NYS Thruway. Our passengers, Pete and Gloria, paid the toll and provided the kind of conversation that makes time fly. The shows at Main Street Arts, in the center of this restored town, are consistently good. “Perception of Time,” a group there now is a case in point. I liked Nancy Wiley’s loose, painterly Generation Z portraits, particularly the second one in from the bottom right. Wiley apparently likes this one too because she shows it in the catalog for the show along with this statement. “I have been struck by the struggle many of them go through to be authentic and honest about who they are as individuals, often challenging old social norms.”

Sam Rathbun, an artist in residence for the month, was working on ideas for an upcoming Glens Falls show in the the studio space on the second floor. She had covered a wall with large, fluid India ink drawings on paper. She told me she grew up on a farm near Naples and is influenced by the equipment her father uses there.

Kurt and Judy Feuerherm have a fun little show up there as well. Kurt was my Fine Arts mentor at Empire State and his work is in the permanent collection of MoMA, Albright Knox and the MAG. The small assemblage sculpture and painting/collage pieces here create an idyllic winter garden.

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Lonely Block

Four "Untitled" entries to Rochester Contemporary 6x6 Show, oil on wood, Paul Dodd 2019
Four “Untitled” entries to Rochester Contemporary 6×6 Show, oil on wood, Paul Dodd 2019

Rochester Contemporary’s annual 6×6 Show has afforded me the opportunity to push the boundaries of one idea for five years now. Revisiting that idea each year, probing it for new life or attempting to reduce it further. You can see all five year’s pieces here.

I pictured a simple block, something with a third dimension to it like those painted toy building blocks we had when we were kids. Years ago we helped our friends, Pete and Shelley, finish the roof of their Adirondack home and I fell in love the rough-cut pine boards they were using. They came from a local saw mill and they gave us a few. I went out to the garage to cut them into 6 by 6 inch pieces but the boards I found weren’t wide enough. So I put two pieces together, ripping the boards in a pleasing proportion, leaving the rough cut exposed when possible and gluing them together.

They are awkward to hang. I ask that they be hung in a specific order and hope they don’t wind up being separated when the show is hung. The first year I painted the two boards a different color, three colors for the four pieces, all straight from the tube. The second year I toyed with leaving the wood unpainted altogether as the the two pieces were different tones but I chickened out. I let the natural wood show and only used two colors.

Year three I reduced the palette to one color. I ripped the boards in three inch widths this time and painted either a square within the square piece or the space surrounding the square. I played with black and white for the fourth year but decided the white would not hold its own on a white wall so went to this silvery color. If they hadn’t sold each year I would have moved on (RoCo takes 100% as a fundraiser.) This year (shown above) I pushed it and left the blocks au natural. After a few days I decided to strengthen the dark portion of each piece by coating it with a quick drying oil.

Finally, I went to the Rochester Contemporary website to see if they had reduced the number of submissions per artist as I heard they might. Sure enough they are only accepting three this year so one of these will be voted off the island.

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What Are You Looking Up Here For?

Alan Singer painting at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York
Alan Singer painting at Axom Gallery in Rochester, New York

We were about four hours early for the opening of Alan Singer‘s new show at Axom Gallery. This gave us plenty of clear shots at the vibrant work and it allowed space for a few of the pieces to jump off the wall. Alan mixes science, art, and mathematics in work that looks tightly controlled at first glance but like LSD it opens up, becomes confounding and ultimately delights. I could look at this piece all day.

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The Rounds

Scott McCarney "Married After Gilbert & George" on view at Colleen Buzzard's Studio
Scott McCarney “Married After Gilbert & George” on view at Colleen Buzzard Studio

It is getting harder and harder to make the rounds on First Fridays. We get bogged down at each stop, mostly in conversation and we wind up running out of time to complete our short list of stops. Jim Mott reminded us that artists are influenced by one another, sometimes in the least obvious of ways. Colleen Buzzard and Dejan Pejovic asked me if I was doing any painting and I answered that I have been organizing my digital life. That response threw both of them and Colleen said, “That doesn’t sound like any fun.”

I love this 2009 Scott McCarney piece, “Married After Gilbert & George.” And it is great to see it out in the open again at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. Scott has transformed this gallery space with a collection of work pulled from storage. A large paper quilt fills your field of vision as you step off the fourth floor elevator. The show, entitled “Disjecta Membra,” brings Scott’s prints and artifacts together with the bound bookworks of their origin. Married After Gilbert & George” appears here in book form as well. As Scott says, “The private act of turning pages on a horizontal surface can be experienced in tandem with the public viewing of images on a vertical plane.” The show runs through January 12th.

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Like A Rocket

Crowd around Van Gogh's "Starry Night" at MoMA
Crowd around Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” at MoMA

The last time I saw Julian Schnabel he was wearing what appeared to be pajamas as he and his lady friend left the Sculpture Pavilion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I say “the last time” even though I only saw him one other time, when Rochester’s Ingrid Sischy brought him to the MAG for a lecture. This was during his smashed plate phase.

Schnabel’s “Basquiat” was embarrassing. His “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” was beautiful but an awful lot like “Johnny Got His Gun.” His “At Eternity’s Gate” is brilliant. Maybe just because the subject is so. But William Defoe is too. Because the movie was done by a painter I expected a more painterly dialog. Instead we have Van Gogh’s personality, his intense relationship with the world, his social ineptness, his psychological disorders and his glimpses of eternity on full display. Maybe that is what it took to produce such extraordinary art.

There is some choice dialog, probably taken from Van Gogh’s letters. “Paintings have to be painted fast, made in one clear gesture.” There is a scene Of Van Gogh and Gauguin taking a piss and talking about how they have to start a revolution. “The Impressionists are so boring.” And Van Gogh adds “But Monet is pretty good.” But there is a cringe worthy scene near the end of the film where Schnabel’s Van Gogh, comparing himself to Jesus, while talking to a priest, says maybe he paints “for people who are not born yet. Adding “nobody knew Jesus until 40 years after his death.”

Van Gogh essentially had ten years where he continued to get better and astronomically better as a painter. Like a rocket. Schnabel’s depiction of Van Gogh in his coffin (Defoe made up by an undertaker) and surrounded by his paintings was incredibly beautiful.

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