Weep America

George Floyd, BLM posters downtown Rochester NY
George Floyd, BLM posters downtown Rochester NY

Cambridge Analytica mined Facebook data to manipulate the swing state persuadables in the last election. Four years later the manipulators are surly more sophisticated. In 3 minutes, 4 seconds Bill Posters and Daniel Howe’s AI synthesized video personas, “Big Dada,” at Rochester Contemporary illustrates the mind-blowing possibilities. You could almost walk into RoCo, hold your breath for the duration and not risk inhaling the virus.

Kota Ezawa “National Anthem” is one minute and thirty eight seconds long. The video installation was one of the stand pieces in the 2018 Whitney Biennial. It will make you weep, both at and for America. The show, “Big Data”Kota Ezawa: Taking a Knee,” is up til November 7th at Deborah Ronnen Fine Art 328b University Ave.

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Labor Of Love

Pine needles and leaves on ridge trail
Pine needles and leaves on ridge trail

Time to think about what I might enter in RoCo’s upcoming Members Show. I put a photo in last year. It sold and I gave 100% to RoCo. It won some sort of prize too, the “Lumiere Photo Award” chosen by William Edwards, photographer and owner of Lumiere Photo, a $200 gift certificate.” I never saw that either but I am not complaining. Art is a labor of love.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow and that would make three days in row that we have walked in the rain. I feel like we are back in Galicia, completing the Camino de Santiago in October. Our rain gear is boss and the rain only deepens the meditation.

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Too Much For Now

From Philip Guston Small Panels show at McKee Gallery,  NYC 2009
From Philip Guston Small Panels show at McKee Gallery, NYC 2009

Philip Guston has been my favorite artist for a long time and I don’t expect him to lose that position before I pass but you never know. I always loved the photo of Guston’s studio with the late 60’s small panels on the wall. The photo has been reproduced in many Guston books and David McKee rounded up the small panels for a show at his gallery in 2009. Of course we made it to that show and Duane Sherwood took a photo of us there looking at this painting. We used it for our holiday card.

The 60’s was a turbulent time, at least as turbulent as ours and Guston’s paintings spoke to that directly. As bluntly as punk rock. If you don’t see the absurdity of these buffoons pointing out their next victim while hiding under their sheets no wall tag is going to help you. And he went much deeper putting himself under the hood painting a self portrait. Apparently this is all too much for us delicate pansies today. Or so the bone-headed thinking of four major art institutions goes as they pulled the plug the Guston retrospective, “Guston Now.” Even though the show is already on the wall and the catalog is on my coffee table.

The directors of National Gallery of Art, Tate Modern, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston came up with this explanation.

Philip Guston Now
Statement from the Directors

After a great deal of reflection and extensive consultation, our four institutions have jointly made the decision to delay our successive presentations of Philip Guston Now. We are postponing the exhibition until a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston’s work can be more clearly interpreted.

We recognize that the world we live in is very different from the one in which we first began to collaborate on this project five years ago. The racial justice movement that started in the U.S. and radiated to countries around the world, in addition to challenges of a global health crisis, have led us to pause.

As museum directors, we have a responsibility to meet the very real urgencies of the moment. We feel it is necessary to reframe our programming and, in this case, step back, and bring in additional perspectives and voices to shape how we present Guston’s work to our public. That process will take time.

In a statement sent to ARTnews, Musa Mayer, the artist’s daughter and a scholar who has written extensively on Guston, took issue with the decision and said she was “saddened” by the show’s delay. “Half a century ago, my father made a body of work that shocked the art world,” she said. “Not only had he violated the canon of what a noted abstract artist should be painting at a time of particularly doctrinaire art criticism, but he dared to hold up a mirror to white America, exposing the banality of evil and the systemic racism we are still struggling to confront today.”

Citing Guston’s Jewish ancestry and his family’s history of having fled Ukraine at a time when their people were under attack, she said Guston’s work resonates with contemporary concerns. “This should be a time of reckoning, of dialogue. These paintings meet the moment we are in today. The danger is not in looking at Philip Guston’s work, but in looking away.”

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Dipping Our Toes In

Three 6x6 entries, Untitled, Oil on wood 2020
Three 6×6 entries, Untitled, Oil on wood 2020

We had not driven anywhere in weeks so everything about the trip down Culver Road was weird. A lot of people, mostly women, were out doing yard work. Peggi and I had been in the basement all day working on art projects. A young couple was sitting in lawn chairs out by the sidewalk, maybe six feet from it. They weren’t wearing masks. They looked desperate for interaction.

A man and a woman were having coffee out in front of Dunkin Donuts. The woman had a mask on. Two twenty somethings with masks on were taking a selfies in front of the Vape Shop. A man on Webster Avenue was moving the lawn with a mask on but we saw quite a few young kids playing and teenagers hanging out without them.

Our mission was a safe drop-off of our RoCo 6×6 entries. We parked in front with our trunk open and Jess came out with a mask on. Ideally she would have picked up the artwork and disappeared but I complicated things because I lost one of my entry forms. She told us to roll down our window and she would come back out with a basket. The basket was hanging on the end of a long stick. I took the form and filled it out and we drove down East Avenue where even joggers were wearing masks. The outing was somewhere between a zombie movie and an acid trip.

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Todd Beers painting/assemblage "Untitled" at Lumiere in Rochester, New York
Todd Beers painting/assemblage “Untitled” at Lumiere in Rochester, New York

All the best stuff is “Untitled.” Todd Beers had a rockin’ opening at Lumiere last night. A dj was spinning old 45s, a mixmaster was serving craft cocktails (I had a can of Genny), and Todd’s mom was there. And there were plenty of red dots on the wall by the time we got there. Todd was showing a wide variety of work and I’m guessing it was from a long stretch of time. Peggi and I used to back Todd up at some of his poetry readings and it was a thrill to see him and his paintings.

We were dog people for a day when the dog sitter next door asked us to cover for him while he went out of town. We got to the corner with Gus after he stopped to smell almost every plant and we came face to face with the big black dog, off lease again. We’ve had several run-ins with the creature but were worried about Gus this time. Gus emptied his bladder by the time we got to the park he surprised us by holding up for a two hour walk. We circle Durand Lake on the trail that hugs the shoreline, one of the prettiest walks in the park.

Heard the trio, Twin Talk, tonight at the Bop Shop. Hit the spot. I came home with a Mingus album, Live in Europe Volume 1, with Eric Dolphy.

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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 a reflection of 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 himself.

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 sticks in a little room. I had heard someone playing 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.

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 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 Schnabel 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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