Rochester Contemporary’s annual 6×6 Show provides an opportunity to revisit the small format. So many of the show’s parameters are fixed, the size (36 square inches), the $20 price, the 100 per cent take by RoCo (a donation) and yet there are so many possibilities. I particularly like working in multiples, letting my four submissions play off each other. And beyond that I enjoy competing with or complimenting my pieces from earlier 6×6 shows. Win/Win and all that.Leave a comment
It was SRO all afternoon at the Little Theatre Café for Pete’s opening. Zanne Brunner visited Pete’s downtown warehouse space and curated a mini retrospective of his work entitled, “Thread – Art of Seven Decades.” The pieces she chose spanned 56 years a period of non-stop creation for Pete Monacelli and he is by no means done. Anybody who know Pete knows he is a dynamo. And everyone, it seems, knows Pete. He connects us to one another. He is the glue that holds our community together in Rochester.
Pete only misses a Margaret Explosion gig if he has one himself. If he wasn’t the man of honor yesterday his band would have been working the room. We were honored he asked Margaret Explosion to perform. It may have been the loudest room our quiet band has played but it was a treat.Leave a comment
It wasn’t until we were back home, looking at my pictures, that I realized how similar these two paintings are. Both artists were Abstract Expressionists but Gottlieb’s painting was done in 1946, before that movement had been established and the Guston painting was done after Guston had moved on. Both artists, of course, took what they had learned with them as they broke barriers.
Gottlieb called the pieces he was doing in the forties “pictograms.”Almost like a box of curiosities, the elements interact and tell a story. Guston calls the elements in his paintings “forms.” His piece is more three dimensional than Gottlieb’s but his forms are pushed to the surface. They are in your face.
Both paintings continue to tell stories long after they were completed.2 Comments
In The Room Over
The first thing Colleen said to us was, “This is the first time I’ve seen you here without masks.” We didn’t think we were being that cautious. She was standing by the door of her studio on First Friday and we were there for the opening of Madeline Coleman’s show, “In The Room Over.” Oddly, at that moment I was in the incubation period of a case of Covid. The place was packed when we played on Wednesday so I probably picked it up there. Peggi has escaped so far and I’m just coming up for air.
A young man and woman handed us a pamphlet as we entered Colleen’s studio. I assumed the woman was the artist but I don’t like having to read something before I look so I didn’t take one. The couple turned out to be the artist’s parents so that was understandable. And I’m so happy Peggi took a booklet. Rather than explaining the pieces we looked at, the pamphlet was an additional treat, sketches, poetry and more questions. I hope you can get up to see this show, it is sensational on many levels.Leave a comment
The Mess Is The Message
Joyce’s “Dubliners” was referenced in something I was reading this morning so I downloaded a public domain copy and read most of the first story. The eBook library on my iPad is stocked with books I have only partially read but I have devoured the artist’s books in my collection. My favorites are are from friends, Anne Havens and Pete Monacelli. Strangely, they were both born on the same day in the same year.
Anne Havens is in the habit of making an exhibition book for each of her art shows. The printed versions are long out of print so she gave me pdf copies of the original files for seventeen of her books. I converted them to ebooks and they are available as free downloads here. In Anne’s “Graceland” book there is a statement from her that points to why I like her work so much. “I borrow from biblical themes, and play with the BIG questions in my quest for Beauty and Truth – and usually find my resting place on the fence between the sublime and the ridiculous, the priest and the jester.”
Visit “Artists Books” page for more free eBook downloads.Leave a comment
The wind storm last week took down a huge pine tree on Zoo Road. The core of the trunk was slightly discolored so maybe it was compromised. It snapped off at the base throwing large pieces of wood in all directions. I found this piece, carried it home, put a couple of wood screws in the back with a short wire and hung it on the wall. It is my first art piece of 2023.Leave a comment
Why Did The Beaver Fell The Tree?
A beaver felled this tree with his teeth and left it for us to marvel at. Interesting that he or she started gnawing at the trunk nearer the ground and then moved up a bit. Once the trunk was down the beaver stripped the bark off the top side for food. They usually topple trees nearer the lake in hopes of damning the outflow but this one is quite a ways from the shore. It is a striking art piece, an installation in the woods.
We called Brad and he had a joke for us, just like in the old days. But this one was pretty bad. Brad plays drums (he taught me everything I know and that is not much) and he favors musician jokes. “Why did the trombone cross the road?” We gave up. “To get to the other slide.” He told us he gets his jokes from Alexa now. I picture that as a bank of generic jokes. An artificial intelligence joke app is just around the corner.
Ken Frank has been fooling around with AI art sites. He picks styles, dictates a description, sits back and asks it to generate an image. He did a mind-blowing, surreal version of the stations of the cross for me. And last night he sent along portraits of Margaret Explosion’s band members. Here’s what the drummer looks like.
Kurt Ketchum walks a fine line well. His fine art work comes right out of his advertising work and engages you like a good ad but leaves you with questions rather than answers. To me this feels very comfortable, a space where everything around you could be an art piece. He has a finely tuned sense of color and uses it sparingly. White, he uses loosely and liberally. His show is up at Colleen’s until the end of the month.Leave a comment
Body of Body Work
I found the video of a talk and slide presentation by Ana Mendieta at Alfred University in 1981, currently showing as part of a show called “Elemental” at RIT City Space, particularly engaging. I watched it three times before moving on to the five videos of her recently restored one hundred films, most documenting her “earth-body” work.
Mendieta worked in drawing, sculpture, photography and video and the wall text summarized the themes in her work as “exile, displacement and the return to the landscape.” Why had I never heard of her and why did she die so young? I turned to Wikipedia.
In Cuba Mendeta (1948-1985) attended an upper class, all girls Catholic school. She was able to escape Castro’s dictatorship but her father spent 18 years in a political prison in Cuba. Ana Mendieta died on September 8, 1985, in New York City, after falling from her 34th-floor apartment in Greenwich Village at 300 Mercer Street. She lived there with her husband of eight months, minimalist sculptor Carl Andre, who may have pushed her out the window. She fell 33 stories onto the roof of a deli.
I kind of like Carl Andre’s work, I modeled the base of our outdoor fire pit on one of his works, but not anymore. “Elemental” runs until February. Don’t miss it.Leave a comment
Anselm Keifer’s show at Gagosian, entitled “Exodus,” features extremely large paintings based on the Hebrew book of Exodus. I stood in front of the one above for the longest time, drawn in by the glass-filled walls on either side but then never really landing in the space before the back wall. I loved the disorientation. “The penumbra between life and death,” as Roger Cohen calls it in a recent article on the artist’s work.
We fell in love with Keifer’s work after spending an afternoon in the large warehouse/gallery devoted to him at Mass MoCa. There the paintings fill the walls, three high, salon style. Gagosian has given him an ultra luxurious amount of room. Enormous paintings on enormous subjects mounted in an enormous space. I am still wow struck by the experience of being in this space with these works.2 Comments
Alex Katz was right up there with Andy Warhol when I was in my twenties. We used to stay with Charlie Coco at his place on 43rd when we came down to New York back then. He took us over to see Moondog passing out sheet music on the corner and to Times Square in 1977 where Katz’s giant portraits were painted on the sides of building, back when the cigarette billboard puffed steam, before LEDs took all the visual space. I still have the article from the NYTs.
Alex Katz is on a short list of artist’s I have run into in New York (Chuck Close-twice, John Baldessari, Julian Schnabel and Annie Leibowitz). A full drum set was part of an installation at one of the Whitney Biennials. Visitors were welcome to play it. I sat down and made a two minute racket. When I stood up I was face to face with the smartly dressed Alex Katz.
The Alex Katz retrospective, “Gathering,” at the Guggenheim was on our agenda. Not that we had much of one. We seem to have the best return, a feast for the mind and eye, when we just stumble around the gallery districts of Tribeca and Chelsea as we did on Tuesday and Wednesday. Full days of absorption. And at Marlborough Gallery on 25th Street we found an Alex Katz spoiler on their second floor gallery. I was able to study, up close, the magic at the edges of Katz’s broad brush strokes that David Salle calls loving attention to in his book, “How to See.” After watching the Guggenheim video of the show and with the forecast for a few feet of snow upstate. we lopped a day of our NYC visit and took a train back.Leave a comment
A Perfect Storm
If we are lucky we will see some Carroll Dunham paintings on our upcoming trip to NYC. I’ve been reading “Into Words – Selective Writings of Carroll Dunham” and really enjoying it, especially his probing interviews with artists. Since the 1990’s he has written for Art Forum, Bomb and various artist catalogs. According to Wikipedia Dunham came from great wealth, which he had squandered on a series of misguided investments. He is married to the artist Laurie Simmons and they have two daughters, actress-writer Lena and writer-activist Cyrus Grace
We have come across two shows of paintings in Chelsea on previous visits and his images have stuck with me. David Pagel, in a Los Angeles Times review intended to be complimentary, described his paintings as “vulgar beyond belief…” They are graphic. Dunham describes “painting’s dual nature as a repository of capital and a facilitator of profound contemplation, a perfect storm of the crass, the sacred and the intimately personal.”
I am looking forward to reading the piece he wrote on Otto Dix. Here is a page from his book describing the work of Max Ernst.
Why did I have to go all the way to Madrid to discover Leon Golub, the tough as nails New York painter, husband of the tougher than nails painter, Nancy Spero? So American, Golub’s critical eye is on the page and his work was almost rude in Spain. It occurred to me that Golub is too distinctly American to be appreciated in the US.
Our 2011 tickets to the Reina Sofia, the contemporary art museum in Madrid, included admission to two satellite exhibitions in the park. Leon Golub at Palacio de Velázquez in Parque del Retiro was mind blowing. His work remains as fresh as the day he painted it. When we saw the show then I wrote, ” Golub’s scruffy tactile work holds its own with “Guérnica” from the Reina Sofia and Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” at the Prado!
Marlon Brando’s memorable line in “Apocalypse Now,” “the horror,” is shown in this monumental canvas. Golub said his work “was an invitation to a place where nobody wanted to go.”
I brought home the catalog to this show and never put it away. It has been at arm’s reach for eleven years. Included in the show were a series of portraits of Franco and this may be why Spain laid the royal carpet out for Golub. They are hysterical and devastating at the same time. Long live Golub!Leave a comment
I was so good to see clothing displayed on mannequins again in the window of the former Sibley’s building downtown. The current show at City Space, an RIT gallery, on the ground floor was curated by Unique Fair-Smith and featured a group of emerging artists living and working in the city. Erin Nesmith’s says her work “is inspired by the natural beauty of the human form.” She recreates historical paintings of women wearing E’rouse (above), her own line of lingerie.
RoCo’s “State of the City” show complimented the City Space show with one overlapping artist, Quajay Donnel. I particularly liked this photo of his.Leave a comment
We walked up to Wegman’s this morning to get another shot, this one to protect against the flu. On the way up there I called Pete to get clarification on his origin verses beginning thesis. In yesterday’s post I mentioned that Pete drew a distinction between the two in similar fashion to the way Mondrian drew a distinction between instinct and intuition. I got a comment from Andrea that asked how you tell the difference. That called my attention to how I fudged the definitions. I am still trying to sort out instinct/intuition and I was not clear on the beginning/origin thing either so I called Pete. He was having lunch with some friends at Rocky’s so he called back once we were home.
When the Jesuits can’t give you a straight answer to a question they say it is all part of the mystery. Pete sees origin as “what caused all this?” He started painting these blobs of Casin paint without knowing what they were. Were they crashing the party, landing on top of or poking out from behind tight line drawings of physical objects? He discovered they were nebulas like the implosions of stars that led to the beginning of the universe.
Pete is forever searching, as any thinking person is, and he is currently illustrating lines from Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” I was at Woodstock, Joni wasn’t, but she captures the optimistic spirit of the festival better than anyone. I knew this. But I had no idea how deep the lyrics to her song are. “We are stardust.” Not glitter in some hippy’s hair but “billion year old carbon.” “We are caught in the devil’s bargain. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”Leave a comment
Equals One Hundred And Eighteen
Peter Schjeldahl, writing (still!) in the new New Yorker about Piet Mondrian says, “Intuition was everything for him—versus “instinct,” which he deplored as an ego-inflating snare and came to associate with, among other derangements, the brutally repressive mystique of Nazism. ” Going forward I will pause long enough to make that distinction.
It is alumni weekend at MCC and two graduates are featured in the art show, “Thirty Eight and Eighty,” at Mercer Gallery. Peter Monacelli was a chemist, a life insurance salesman, a factory worker at General Electric before Art Essentials at MCC. He went on too teach art classes at the college for many years. In his half of the artist talk this afternoon, drew a distinction between “origin” as a process and “beginning” as a time stamp. Speaking for Bradley Butler, the other half of a great new show at MCC’s Mercer Galley, Pete said both he and Bradley were getting at the same thing in their work, the origin of everything.
Chemist, life insurance salesman, worked at General Electric at night an$ took Art Essentials at MCC.
Their work, Pete’s drawings and Casin paintings on white paper and Bradley’s rich, dark and moody palette on canvas, worked beautifully together. An eBook version of Peter Monacelli’s “Origins” is available as a take-home piece. Visit the “Artist Books” page for free downloads.
Anne Havens did a series of life-sized plaster heads called “Sleeping Around.” We have one of them on our bookcase. Peggi and I spotted this rock down at the pool this afternoon, I think it may have been used as a door stop for the pump house, and we thought of Anne. She is stuck in Florida for a while so we carry on with our experience of her art as inspiration.
We talked to Anne Havens over the weekend and got her approval on posting some of her books as eBooks. We visit Anne’s website often and are always surprised at how well the technical end of the site is holding up as Anne did it herself with Apple’s long discontinued iWeb app.
Anne did a lot of those Apple Books too, from photos of her work. She did one for each show for awhile and she gave us the pdf files she sent Apple so we could pull the pages out for a slideshow on Colleen Buzzard’s big projector. With all those pages in a folder it was easy create eBooks of her long out of print editions. Five of her eBooks are available here as free downloads.
Peggi took this video of Anne Havens “Recent Prints” show the Little Theater Gallery in 2006. The resolution on her camera has improved since then.Leave a comment
Manifestation is back in boxes. The white walls of Colleen Buzzard’s Studio are singing a different tune this month, “Works on Paper” by Beauty. Although she has been an artist her whole life, this is only Beauty’s second show. I asked her if her clothes really looked like they do in her paintings and she said no. She animates them. In her own words –
“This show was inspired by my wardrobe which feels like it has a life of its own. I am intrigued that even inanimate objects have an essence, a sense of presence, and I find that especially true of my clothes and footwear. It is that unexplained, alive quality in the most ordinary of objects that led me to this work.”Leave a comment
Turn Up The Volume
These canvases are the same size but they don’t look it. One is just a little closer to the camera. I like how this photo conveys the simple technique employed by artists to convey a sense of space in a 2D work. You could, for example, make one eye bigger in a portrait and it would appear closer to you thereby adding volume to the subject and depth to your field.
Tomorrow brings a new show to Colleen Buzzard’s Studio, “Works on Paper” by an artist named Beauty, whose work focuses on the inner vitality she finds in familiar objects. Beauty won’t be using the projector in the big hallway so Colleen asked us if we could prepare a disc of slides of Anne Havens’ work, all taken from pdfs of the Apple Books Anne did for her shows over the past two decades. It was pure joy to spend time with images of Anne’s drawings, paintings and sculptures but it was pretty much of bummer to discover more limitations of the Micca Media Player that we’re using to interface with the projectors. You would think you would be able to view both movies and photos if they were in a folder together but it’s one of the other.Leave a comment
I came awake with “Rock Steady” going around in my head. I don’t remember hearing it recently. I couldn’t even remember who did it. Was it a Reggae song? There was a whole genre called Rock Steady. I could hear Aretha Franklin’s song by that name but that wasn’t it. I had to look it up. It was the Whispers from 1987 and the song was produced by Baby Face who is performing here this weekend.
The sun has set on “Manifestation,” my show at Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. Peggi helped me dismantle it last night and Colleen was already prepping the walls for next month’s show. Certainly not everyone who attended the show liked what they saw but I took note when someone liked one of the pieces enough to tell me. For most it was “Los Inmigrantes.” There was plenty of talk about “Passion Play” and “Brief History of the World,” and surprisingly some liked the “For Fritz” pieces the best. For a select few, the most enthusiastic response was to the “Arcadian Forms” and that was rewarding. They are my favorites as well. I plan to mount them on the wall in my studio and find a way to move forward in that direction.1 Comment