There is no such thing as leftovers in the studio. I had 20 of these small plastic panels, 12 inch square pieces, leftover from my “Arcadian Forms” and “Passion Play” series. I covered them in acrylic, flat organic shapes just two or three colors per panel and then tried to make them work as a whole – twenty tiles in one piece with the simple forms sometimes jumping from on e panel to the next, sometimes changing color and other times staying the same. I rearranged and repainted the pieces many times before accepting the fact that it was a logistical mess.
Yesterday I cut a hole in a piece of white board and moved it around on top of the pieces until I found compositions that I liked. I took the panels out to the garage and used my table saw to cut out four 6 by 6’s for Rochester Contemporary’s upcoming show.
It seemed Steve could do anything. He was our hero when we lived together in Bloomington and he still is today in our minds. He did these drawings in my art pads and I hung onto them. We’d like to think we’re worldly while Steve is otherworldly.
Scans always need some work. Straightening, cropping, color correction and scaling. And then the page layout required serious concentration and any automated trick I could come up with. It reminded me of the old days when we were coding pages in html. Tasks that required endless stick-to-itiveness. Carpal tunnel would set in. To scale a few hundred images I copy/pasted the desired width dimension, hit tab, tab to the X dimension, hit the zero key, tab to Y, hit zero again and then Return. I sounded like I was doing drum rudiments.
I asked for it by offering to create three eBooks from the drawings Pete did while in confinement, a six month stretch of hospital stays and then rehab. Through poking, proding and procedures, pain medications and torturous healing techniques Pete continued to draw (and I sound like I’m complaining). Confined to a bed, Pete filled three small sketch books before his triumphant release. The two drawings above were created just days apart. They are so animated they jump off the page. Please download Pete’s free “Aaron Manor” eBook here.
Colleen Buzzard has placed herself at the center of a creative hub in Rochester by being a magnanimous host for the curious. Her studio is cabinet of curiosities that prompts questions and incubates ideas. She shares her thinking here and opens a portion of her space to other artists for shows of their work. Both feed off the dialog. She engages you and draws you in thereby creating a community of creatives.
Colleen gave an artist’s talk last night at the opening of her new show at Mercer Gallery. The place was packed, a testimony to her influence. I was struck by how her piece, above, a wire/shadow, three dimensional drawing reminded me of Chillida. We had seen so much of his work during our month in Spain. And when Colleen talked of working between 2D and 3D she is talking Chillida’s language. This piece is but a small detail in her installation, Colleen has work on all six sides of the cube as well as outside the window. I hope you can spend some time here in the next month.
We are taking in as much of Centro Madrid as possible before moving on to San Sebastián. We walk in a different direction everyday, usually with an art exhibit in mind. We stop for coffee, pop in book stores, have a midday meal somewhere and stroll some more before stopping for a cerveza.
I went home with 60 Euros and some change four years ago, our last visit, and I brought it back with me this time. The smallest cafes, the Metro and even the holy card store take Apple Pay so I’m still hanging onto most of it. Years ago we would go from one Telebanco to the next.
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres says “Even wars have rules.” How about, don’t start one? Which brings me to “Ben Shahn: De la no conformidad“ at Museo de Riena Sofia. This is a laugh out loud show. – if you take delight in Shahn’s skewering of the opposition. Shahn’s wit is fully employed in a series of paintings, photos, posters, book covers and murals. He steered clear of art movements and stayed true to the human heart as he championed the fight for a free world.
My father would have loved this show. He made sure I had a copy of Shahn’s 1957 book, “The Shape of Content,” a credo of nonconformity which he saw as a precondition for all significant artistic production and great social change.
His watercolors of the Dreyfus Affair, two paintings from the Sacco and Vanzetti series (his mural of Sacco and Vanzetti on Syracuse University’s campus is a must see), 15 gouaches on Tom Mooney, and a scathing caricature of Father Coughlin. It’s all here. He assisted Diego Rivera on his ill-fated Rockefeller Center fresco. Shahn is America’s Diego Rivera and he might just be a better artist.
We are surrounded by churches in this old section of Madrid. Our place is on the fourth floor and we can see the tops of three churches, one basilica and one cathedral. We are quite happy with the place. It’s quiet at night, there are cafes nearby and grocery stores. When we step outside in the morning we hear tour guides pointing out the “oldest church in Madrid, San Nicolas.” We have not seen the inside of it yet, it always seems to be closed. We will head up to San Sebastián in a few days and eventually return to Madrid so we’ve been scoping out other neighborhoods. We walked up to Universidad, the college section, and then Malasaña, both felt really comfortable. We found too many young people in Chueca. Salesas and Justicia were low key and just right so we’ll look into renting a place there when we return.
Years ago we bought a Jose Guerrero print at Antonio Machón Gallery and we stop back whenever we are in town. Antonio recently passed and his wife, Margarita, is in the process of retiring. She was boxing up the artwork when we stopped in today. We chatted (Margarita y Margarita en Español while I watched the animation) for an hour or so and then she invited us to her art filled place for coffee and pastry and more conversation. In our last visit Margarita recommended the Abstract Art Museum in Cuenca and we loved that. We told her we were headed up to San Sebastián to see the Chillida Museum and she showed us her Chillida pieces and then gave us the catalog for Chillida’s last show (while he was still alive) which was in her gallery. She highly recommended the sculpture museum in Valladolid so that city has been added to our agenda.
Margarita told us Chillida was a goalie for a team in San Sebastián before turning to sculpture.
We stayed at Duane’s place near Prospect Park for two nights and divided the bulk of our waking hours between two big box museums, the Whitney and MoMA. Outside the museums we walked seven miles or so each day with Duane (in his orange hat) as our guide. We walked the length of the High Line after the Whitney and all the way downtown after MoMA. We found “restaurants nearby” with Apple’s map and ate Mexican and Indian. My brother, Mark, came in from New Jersey and met us at the Picasso show.
I had a crazy nightmare the first night and woke Peggi with my cry for help. Sea lions, like the ones we saw in Maine when we rented a boat, were climbing onto the bed (Duane’s coach) and one of them had three long claws wrapped around my wrist. The second night there was a fire at 1:30 in the morning at the 24 hour car wash on the next block. Peggi woke up to the sirens and the flashing lights. I was aware of the disturbance and had a restless night’s sleep.
Ed Ruscha is mostly fun. Once a commercial artist, he found a way into fine art by doing uncommercial projects. Playing art director he gave himself wacky projects like photographing every building on Sunset Boulevard. Also, he was from California, an outsider to New York cool school. His paintings look like comps for ads.
Ruscha revisited his Course of Empire, a ten-painting installation originally created for the 2005 Venice Biennale, repainting the buildings a decade later with signs of dubious progress (international logos, barb wire). I saw them all at the old Whitney a decade ago. MoMA had three of the pairs in their “Ruscha: Now Then” roundup. They were my favorites.
Henry Taylor’s “B Side” show at the Whitney was a real trip for me. A trip because I went in knowing only “I’ve seen a few reproductions of his paintings that really caught my eye” but here those paintings, large and on display in the first room, struck me as blown up reproductions. I spent the first half hour or so looking for others to like. I scanned the rooms instead of proceeding one by one, following my eye and I slowly discovered Taylor could pull off more than a few good paintings.
He paints quickly with exuberance. His brushwork is like Guston’s. His portraits have real personality, real likenesses if they are someone famous. They bring Alice Neel to mind. He is playful like Basquiat, he riffs on famous paintings, adapting Whistler’s mother in his portrait of the Black Panther Party Minister, Eldridge Cleaver (above) and giving him somewhat of a dandy appearance.
With time I was laughing out loud as I found one thoroughly enjoyable painting after another. Paintings that looked simple at first looked rich and expressive. Rewarding! Henry Taylor is now one of my favorite painters.
There are three generations of Seymour Knoxes. The first made his money with the Woolworth’s chain. The second, pictured above, played polo around the world and bought art from the modern masters as they were making it. The third owns the Buffalo Sabres. Seymour H. Knox (the 2nd) is seen (above) in 1957 holding court at the Albright Knox in Buffalo with Philip Guston, Jimmy Ernst, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko. Now, whose hand is that on Jimmy Ernst’s shoulder?
The Albright Knox has one of the best collections of modern art in the world and it is largely due to Seymour’s eye. The gallery/museum has continued to buy choice contemporary art so it is in good hands and with its new expansion now open they call themselves “Buffalo AKG Museum.” Boosting Buffalo is a good thing, demoting Knox to a K is kinda sad and do they have to be both a Gallery and a Museum?
The collection is all that matters and it is a feast for the eyes. We started with a gorgeous Gottlieb, Rodin’s life-size Adam and Eve sculptures, Gauguin’s “Yellow Christ” where put himself on the cross. I then spent considerable time studying Gaston LaChaise’s “Standing Woman” from all sides. LaChaise considered Standing Woman to be his best work and the piece dominates the Sculpture Court. Knox bought a pivotal Pollack, a gorgeous DeKooning, my favorite Rothko, a knockout Bacon, Motherwell’s “Elegy to the Spanish Republic,” one of Horace Pippin’s two self portraits and three Gustons. We have been here so many times and I love how my favorite pieces change with each visit.
We get chicken mushrooms at the base of this tree every year. When I took this photo there flies and insects crawling all over them. I thought they were past prime. Later looked down as someone stopped his car and picked the lot. Peggi speculated that he might have taken them for the spores.
The opening of “Portals & Planes” went well. You get a bunch of artists and musicians and friends together and they talk like crazy so you can’t miss. But it went well because I spent most of the two hours talking about the photos, taking pictures, textures and composition. I some collector card sized versions of the photos to give away at the opening. It seemed some people like those better than the large prints. Scott McCarney took an extra set and told us he plans to rearrange the sequence, maybe as a little book. I had to quiet the room down so Peggi and I could do a couple songs at the midpoint. The full band plays the café on Wednesday. That’s not exactly true. We plan to do the gig without a bass player as Ken has another engagement.
The title image, the one I’m using to promote my photo show at the Little Theatre Café, is a picture I took on my way to Editions Printing where Peter was making Giclée prints of the the images I had chosen for this show. Funny how that worked. It fit the thread of the theme I was working with perfectly. It encapsulated it. I was running back and forth to his State Street print shop and taking different routes each time when I stumbled on this warehouse on Hudson Avenue.
I carry a camera with me at all times, not a cellphone but the best Sony that will fit in my pocket. I had a lot of photos to look at before selecting and plenty of time to think about what my favorites have in common. It is the picture plane. I like to flatten it and square up my subject matter. Point blank. I’m not opposed to centering the subject. I keep my wide angle lens wide open. I never zoom. I walk up to the subject and compose the shot by repositioning my body. I don’t crop my photos either. The composition is done in camera.
“Portals & Planes: Pictures by Paul Dodd” is at Little Theatre Café for the month of September. The opening reception is Sunday afternoon, September 10, 2-4pm. There will be a short musical performance by Peggi and me at some point and I have some giveaways! Hope you can stop out.
Every year we talk about visiting Storm King, the outdoor sculpture museum in the Hudson Valley. Some friends of ours were just there and they loved it. I love Calder, Serra, Noguchi, Chillida and Moore but I have a hard time with steel beams and cute stuff. I’m thinking of the items that litter the grounds at the MAG. And then Storm King is so close to Dia Beacon, the citadel of sorts for minimalist art. We stopped in Beacon once and spent the day in there. How can you compete with that? We found this spring, shown in the picture above, while walking down Pete and Shelley’s dirt road in the Adirondacks. It is the centerpiece of our outdoor sculpture garden.
When Peter at Editions Printing asked when my show was I was almost embarrassed to tell him “September.” It was so far off. What artist has their work all ready to hang months before a show. Well, now I’m just weeks away and I have five more Giclée prints to frame before I can think about which walls to hang them on and in what order. I changed my mind on a few after having them printed because I was still honing in on my theme. This was not as simple as picking my favorite photos.
I decided on Tuesday when I was told I had to get an artist statement, image of my work and the title of my show to City Newspaper. I’ve created a web page with the twenty one photos I plan on showing. I created a two hour playlist for the opening. And I had I set of 100 mini versions of the photos printed on 16pt uncoated matte stock, same size as baseball cards. I plan to give those away at the opening.
Peggi and I plan to play a short set as a duo at the opening and we have a Margaret Explosion date before that so found some time between rain showers to spray paint my drum dampeners black. They will match the black heads that I bought a garage sale last week.
We met our neighbor, Jared, at the mailboxes. He pulled a pamphlet from “In Touch Ministries” out of his box and gave it to us. He told us he didn’t know why he got these and he said he had sent them an email to ask them to take his name off their mailing list. An avowed atheist, he said, “I think the world would be better off if they banned all religions.”
Our friend Pete is attracted to the spirituality in art and his art certainly has that as a foundation. I came across a couple of passages I thought he would like so I texted them to him. He called a few minutes later to say he loved the statements and we arranged to meet in his hospital room today at one.
When we got to the front desk, a woman was checking out as we were checking in. She told the woman behind the desk that she had been visiting Peter Monacelli. I told her we were on our way up there and I asked how he was doing. She said, “He has lots of stories.” We were thrilled to hear this. That is the Pete we know.
We found his new room and shouted in to him. He told us we had to suit up with the baby blue gowns and dark blue gloves that were sitting by the door. And while we did he sang the first verse of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue.”
He has been in the hospital long enough to see the division between life inside, where the focus is on healing, and outside where the focus is on . . . here he let us fill in the blank. I was thinking “Partying? Peggi said “Living?” Pete offered “Fixing things.” Imagine if we focused on healing on the outside.
Below are the two statements I sent Pete.
Chillida – “I am a religious man. Questions of faith and my problems as an artist are closely linked. Naturally my conception of space has a spiritual dimension, just as it also has a philosophical dimension. My continued rebellion against the laws of gravity has a religious aspect.“
Kiki Smith – “It’s one of my loose theories that Catholicism and art have gone well together because both believe in the physical manifestation of the spiritual world, that it’s through the physical world that you have spiritual life, that you have to be here physically in a body. You have all this interaction with objects, with rosaries and medals. It believes in the physical world. It’s a thing culture.“
“It’s also about storytelling in that sense, about reiterating over and over and over again these mythological stories about saints and other deities that can come and intervene for you on your behalf. All the saints have attributes that are attached to them and you recognize them through their iconography. And it’s about transcendence and transmigration, something moving always from one state to another. And art is in a sense like a proof: it’s something that moves from your insides into the physical world, and at the same time it’s just a representation of your insides. It doesn’t rob you of your insides and it’s always different, but in a different form from your spirit.”
Dia Chelsea is an oasis of sorts. Not only do they have great art shows, they have a bathroom and a bookstore. We were there to see the Chryssa show but I spent some time with this book on the Chicago Art Institute’s collection of Ray Johnson work, mostly collages and mail art. The book feels like the original Whole Earth catalog, one foot in the recycling bin, but the more I looked, the more I wanted to see.
Born in Detroit the same year as my parents, he doesn’t fit neatly into any movement but he heralded several simultaneously. A pop artist, earlier and more fluid than Warhol, a performance artist before the category existed and certainly a conceptual artist. He made fun of them all. A queer street artist well before Keith Haring. His collages looked like the best of the punk era a decade before they were born. He made fun of it all. He blew up a deal with Gagosian when he priced his collages at one million each.
At ease with appropriation, Johnson was quick to make connections between everything. As a student at the legendary Black Mountain College, his art was in dialog with his teachers, Joseph Albers and Robert Motherwell and his friends John Cage and Jasper Johns. He lived like a monk and made art with magazines, Xerox machines and the post office. In the sample spread above he spoofs the intellectual Abstract Expressionist, Barnett Newman.
Most of all I see my friend Rich Stim’s work in the humor. And the post cards that Pete and Shelley sent us over the years – rectangular pieces of cereal boxes with cryptic messages for the mailman to decipher before we tucked them away.
“Some people just didn’t get it, and other people like me thought he was an absolute genius,” said the painter James Rosenquist, with whom Mr. Johnson corresponded for years, often asking him to forward mailed artworks onto Willem de Kooning. “Sometimes I did what he asked and sometimes I just couldn’t part with them,” Mr. Rosenquist said, adding: “I really miss him because I accumulate all these strange things that I’d like to mail him, but I can’t because he’s not there.”
We couldn’t leave the house until the Atletico/Cadiz match finished so we got a late start on First Friday. Our first stop was the Wilder Group opening at Lumiere on College Avenue. George Wegman had sold about half of his beautiful pencil shaving drawings before we even got there. Pete Monacelli was having some repair work done so he wasn’t able to attend. His drawings on digital prints of his work added yet another dimension to his dynamic work.
We headed over to the Anderson Building and ran into a couple that had just come from Lumiere show standing beside their Hyundai. The passenger side glass had been smashed but nothing was stolen. They surmised the thief had been scared off. The sun was still up and their car was scheduled to get the theft protection software upgrade in two weeks.
We loved Ann Punzi’s paintings at Colleen’s. Her show, called “Current Events” features gorgeous abstracts based on environmental disasters. In her statement she says, ” While researching information on climate change I discovered information on Blue Carbon Ecosystems and this presented a hopeful direction for this series.
Twelve years ago we stumbled onto a Hermann Nitsch performance at Pace Gallery in Chelsea. This wasn’t one of his bloody crucifixion performances, this was a musical performance of Hirsch’s composition for strings inside Pace Gallery where Nitsch’s paintings were on display. Nitsch, himself, sat in a chair in front of the quintet.
Last week, while popping in and out of galleries in Chelsea, we stopped in at Pace, just as they were turning off the lights for the day. It was six o’clock and we were cramming in as much art as we could digest. They turned the lights back on and we discovered we were at another show of Kitsch’s. He died last year and his paintings looked particularly somber but even more beautiful. His altar installation in the back of the gallery knocked me out.
I love the fact that Mark Bradford gets all his art making tools at Home Depot. I love our local outlet as well, even though the owner supports the T-man and they don’t take Apple Pay. The place is full of art supplies. We saw his show in Chelsea last week and I particularly like “Manifest Destiny,” above. The idea that the United States is destined by God to expand and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent is so bloated it is laughable. But then here we are. Underneath Bradford’s piece is a large billboard for a Los Angeles entrepreneur that reads, “Johnny Buys Houses.”
Earlier in the day I took the photo below as we worked our way through TrBecCa.
Dia Chelsea’s two large spaces are currently filled with big work by the Greek artist Chryssa. Her light sculptures were in the first dark room and her large newspaper like pieces are hanging in the the light filled space. I love her little plaster, terracotta sculptures from 1955.
Gerhard Richter has stopped painting for now but he is still working at the top of his game. His show at David Zwirner in Chelsea is a showstopper. In addition to some some of his last paintings there are rooms of pencil drawings, ink and wash drawings and watercolors. Peggi and I spent quite a while in front of this one (his third drawing from September 12, 2022) marveling at how he layers abstract textures and then dramatically plays with the space by adding ink lines.
We had tickets for a Broadway play in the old Studio 54. The building was originally an opera house and I can’t imagine how the space ever worked as a club. The play was a matinee so we I made a short list of Midtown galleries to check out before the show. We struck gold in three of them, I don’t remember the fourth and we discovered the fifth had closed permanently. The John McLaughlin show was fantastic (above.) Had never heard of Markus Lüpertz but the picture in Time Out drew us to his “Et in Arcadia ego” show and we loved his funky, luscious paintings. And at Hauser Wirth we discovered Winfred Rembert‘s dye on carved and tooled leather work, a revelation.
The play went deep into family relationships. Just three actors, all great, performing a script developed from the text in photographer, Larry Sulton’s book, “Pictures From Home.” That text is mostly transcriptions of dialog with his parents as he involved them in a series of photos of them in their home. He turned the tables on his parents who documented him as he grew up. What he uncovered was rich and moving as his parents pushed back on the “art project.”