We had dinner on Friday night at our neighbors’ place. I raided his record collection and checked out a dozen lps. Jedediah, derived from the name Yedidyah, meaning “beloved of Jah” in the Hebrew Bible, was born in Kingston and all but the Burning Spear lp (above) are Jamaican pressings. I showed this picture to my brother-in-law at a family wedding yesterday and he reminded me that he bought the “Africa Must Be Free by 1983 lp from me when we sold most of our records. The “Sons of Negus” dub version is worth a couple hundred bucks. I had the Ras Michael vocal version of that.
Speaking of dub. Ken couldn’t make our Margaret Explosion gig on Wednesday and instead of asking someone to sit in we played without a bass. A few things happened. There was a big hole in the middle of our sound. No other instrument fills as much space the bass. This was made alarmingly evident the first two songs. And then we relaxed instead over-trying to fill the void. The normally chatty crowd was mostly quiet which allowed us to even empty it out more. I found I could play as quiet as a mouse or even drop out.
First Friday’s art circuit was surprisingly quiet last night. The hot weather and the holiday weekend may have been factors. But it was easier to spend time with art rather than socializing.
Rochester had the 4th highest rate of homicides in the U.S. with firearms as the most common cause of death.’ There were 351 shooting victims last year. As a result, the city has been under an official gun violence state of emergency since July 21, 2022. The ten placards shown above are part of “We Remember” an installation by Gays Against Guns, currently on view in a show called “Unconditional Care” at Rochester Contemporary. Although this is certainly more pressing than any art concern I expected more of an art spin in this setting. Maybe the the take-away is we should address this issue first and then make art.
Over a Studio 402 I was knocked out by Nancy Valle’s section of wall in a group show. Cut, folded and inked cardboard pieces based on envelopes of all sizes were mounted to the wall. They were intriguing, playful and organic all at once. And then, where you see the blank spots, Nancy had hung three rectangular mono prints created with these playful pieces. Nancy was standing nearby and I couldn’t help but offer an observation. I suggested she separate the three rectangular prints from these beauties. In a dramatic move Nancy took the three pieces off the wall in the middle of her show. She plans to rearrange the Correspondence presentation.
The remainder of the rising orange blue moon was straight ahead as we drove down East Main so we made a bee line to Kathy’s backyard overlooking Irondequoit Bay and watched it slowly return to white.
Clarissa Street was much more than Rochester’s Black Wall Street. It was the cultural hub of a rich community until the city’s urban renewal schemers took a bulldozer to it. This highway (490) plowed through the heart of the community and destroyed The Pythodd, Rochester’s legendary jazz club, along with Shep’s Paradise and the vibrant commercial center.
On Friday evening Teen Empowerment unveiled their Clarissa Uprooted mural on Main near Cascade Street. The mayor was there and spoke to a crowd of a few hundred. The mural that features Roy McCurdy, Ron Carter and Pee Wee Ellis along with the Mangione brother.. Nearby Rochester Art Supply donated the paint.
We met this guy on the next street over. Conner and Miguel are babysitting him while his owners are away. I can’t remember his name or the mix of breeds but he is something else.
My horseshoe game has definitely improved. I know Rick probably thinks his game is off but I’m quite sure mine has actually improved. For ten years or so we have been very closely matched although he usually edges me out at the end of the year. I have won so many times this summer that he can’t possibly pull ahead and I am ready to share my secret with Rick.
As with so many other things in life, I find I just shouldn’t try so hard by overthinking or correcting. It is too easy to get in my own way. I stare at the stake for ten seconds for so and then step toward the stake as if my whole body was going through a funnel, one that comes out forty feet away at the base of that stake. The step I take and the way I swing my arm is needs to be close to effortless with all my energy focused on that stake. I let the weight of the shoe dictate the way I swing my arm. I try not to get in the way of the natural flow of gravity. I go with the flow, my shoe does a leisurely flip and it lands on the stake.
I don’t even want to know what went on in this hospital room but I like the presentation. We were up there to visit our friend, Pete, who was home for a little over a week before checking back in for a tune-up. He ordered some more posters. Peggi ran those off this morning and we’ll stop back up with the delivery.
We were only going to watch one World Cup match yesterday and fast forward our way through the other, but the first, between Nigeria and England, was a nail biter. and it went into overtime. We were rooting for the underdog. Their fans were having much more fun in stands. The Australian match with Denmark was a good one as well so we went along for the full ride.
A few friends have asked what we thought of the US goin home so early. Of course we were disappointed but it should be obvious that they didn’t deserve to advance. It is a competitive sport. The US has had the advantage for years – Title 9, soccer moms, privilege etc. Europe and the rest of the world are finally investing in women’s programs as well and they’ve already caught up. They also have the advantage of being steeped in the world football culture. Naturally they don’t play like hockey players. They are big on finesse, possession, passing and outsmarting. Spain, Columbia, South Africa, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Morocco and Japan are all so good.
The women’s game is so much better, who could possibly complain. Oh, that guy! “Many of our players were openly hostile to America — No other country behaved in such a manner, or even close, “WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!! MAGA.”
I remember canoeing along the shoreline of a lake in the Adirondacks and somehow disturbing a beaver. I don’t know if it was a nest or a damn but the beaver followed us like it was chasing us away from its project. We’ve never seen a beaver in the park but every year we see the damage they cause to trees along the two lakes, Durand and Eastman. They are determined, industrious and persistent. And creative! Look at this sculpture.
A few hours later I looked out at the spot where the nest was to see if there were any wasps and I found them rebuilding in the same spot. I hosed it again. The next morning the nest was again as big as it was originally. These creatures are big but have no memory. Peggi read that peppermint oil deters then so I but some on a rag and wiped it on the spot where they built their first three nests. They came back undeterred and had another hut built so I blasted that and rubbed peppermint oil all over the area. They have not returned.
We’ve had wasp nests on our house other years. I suit up and blast them with our garden hose while Peggi keeps an eye out for the wasps. The other hives were lantern like structures but these are long and tube-like. I looked them up and found they are called “organ pipes” because they are often in side by side groupings. The worker wasps come one after the other with packages of mud and this tube gets longer and longer. I timed my approach and blasted their construction with all the water pressure we had.
I couldn’t help but notice the form similarities in the beaver’s sculpture, the Mud Daubers’ nest and my “Shard,” the hunk of pine readymade that sprung from the shattered pine when it fell over in a heavy rain this spring.
This is how I pictured summer, the way it was in Costa Rica last winter. Instead, we’ve had a couple of weeks of smoke filled air surrounded by rain. We don’t have air conditioning so we count on opening the windows and turning on a fan but the air outside smells like an ashtray. Our neighbor, Jared, has a rain gauge and he told us we had two and a half inches yesterday.
They didn’t have NA beers in Costa Rica so we drank what everyone else was having, “Imperial.” It’s a lot like Genesee, which also tastes especially good cold, right out of a long neck bottle. I picked up a case of Genesee at Aman’s the last time we were there. I pictured having one while playing horseshoes and having it around to serve when friends stop by. I haven’t opened the case yet.
Peggi and I took a walk over the bridge near High Falls and stopped in the brewery. They have a huge map of the city in there with an array of buttons you can push to illuminate the locations of all the breweries in the city at periods. In the 1850s there were more breweries in town than there are now. By the early 1970s just Genesee and Standard remained. My uncle worked for Standard until they closed in 1972 leaving Genesee as the only brewery in the city. And then the micro brewery craze took off.m
“Summertime” will come and when it does all will be right with the world.
A big toad was sitting in the middle of our path when the solstice officially hit at 10:57, just sitting there while we looked at it. I scratched the bumps on its back and it hopped away. We saw a few deer and they too just glanced at us and went about their business. As we cut across the maple grove we found a snake in the grass. I would guess it was three feet long or so and it appeared to be sunning itself. Only when we got too close did it slither away. Time stands still twice a year.
Back at the house, Dave Ripton and Todd Beers were cleaning our soffits. They wrapped our porch in plastic and I got this shot of Todd in action. Both Dave and Todd are poets and painters and Dave is a musician as well. We’ve been friends for years and have performed with both of them. We bought the painting below, a joint effort by the two of them, at Godiva’s on Monroe Avenue. It hung over the fireplace in our house on Hall Street. It was good spending time with them again.
I am still amazed that the City tore up the eastern half of the old Inner Loop. I never thought it would happen. And I am amazed at how quickly it was redeveloped. That part of the city is enjoyable to walk in again. The other half of the Inner Loop is even more divisive but the talk of demolishing it has died down.
High Falls, the geographic reason Rochester was planted here, is just a short walk from midtown but getting by the wall of highway concrete is so unpleasant most people have given up. Artists are being chased out of their warehouse spaces on East Main as developers see bigger bucks in rehabbed living spaces and there are so many empty industrial buildings, former restaurants and storefronts along and off State Street, right near the falls. I have seen a glimpse of Rochester’s future. In another twenty years this area will be thriving again.
From Editions we walked by Obatala & Shango Religious Goods and picked up a couple of candles, Santa Barbara Africana and Santo Niño de Atocha. The owner of the shop asked if we wanted our candles blessed. I said no at first and then asked, “Does it cost anything?” He said no so I agreed. I was expecting a quick sign of the cross but he put a couple drops of a scented oil at the base of the wick and then sprinkled a few dried herb flakes on it. We continued on, across the bridge, stopped in the Genesee Brewery gift shop and headed back to our car.
Pete has sorted out the world from his hospital bed. Four weeks in now, but close to being released, he has turned lemons into lemonade as the adage goes. He has art supplies at his fingertips and stories to tell. He cares about each of the hospital workers, the ones that are in charge of his care, and that opens new channels. They take their breaks in his room or stop by to visit after their shift is down. We have witnessed this and it is really quite remarkable.
He wrote this beautiful poem (above) and asked us print fifty copies so he could give them to his caregivers. As Pete said to us, “Imagine how different the world would be if we all took care of each other.”
Pete was hoping to be out in time for his gig with Debbie Kendrick on Friday but it didn’t work out. Peggi and I caught their second set. Debbie dedicated “You Send Me” to Pete. Lamar from Sons of Monk sat in for Pete along with Jahaka Mindstorm on congas. They were great but to my ears the songs didn’t sound as sweet or soulful with Pete on drums.
I guess it wasn’t a traditional first date. In 1973 Steve Hoy suggested we go to the Kentucky Derby, not even a two hour drive from Bloomington. I invited Peggi. We were just getting to know each other. Thankfully we are still getting to know each other. We plan to watch the race tomorrow, just after the Copa del Rey final. We’ll celebrate with a bottle of Spanish Rioja and toast to our golden years.
Secretariat won, setting a record that still stands fifty years later, and went on to win the Triple Crown. NBC just posted restored footage of the race. I suspect they used a version of the AI app that Duane Sherwood is applying to Suicide footage.
I was going to enter two of my pieces from “Manifestation” in the biennial Finger Lakes Exhibition but I spaced out the deadline. I’m working on pieces for a Little Theatre show in September and enjoying the blank slate mind set.
We stopped by the Finger Lakes show yesterday and found some things we really liked. John Griebsch had a beautiful arial photo of a row of trees. I voted for Bill Keyser’s painting on found metal as my favorite and later wished I had voted for Eric Kunsman‘s black and white photo of two pay phones at the four corners of Webster.
The Gap Band’s “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” is like magnet drawing viewers onto the media space at the MAG but we only had time to duck our heads in and grab this still shot. We made a note to visit Crystal Z Campbell’s “Lines of Sight,”a take on the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, at a later date.
Walking around Manhattan, popping in and out of galleries, digesting rectangular artwork on rectangular walls does something to your senses. It puts them on alert to possibilities. And they are everywhere.
John Hogan, a long time Sol LeWitt business partner and friend, spoke at the Memorial Art Gallery last night in conjunction with the recently installed “Wall Drawing #957, Form derived from a cube.” He explained how LeWitt’s thinking evolved as an artist, how he thought of himself as a composer and how he came to the realization that the idea is the art, not the execution.
His first wall drawing was installed at Paul Cooper’s gallery in New York in 1968 as a benefit for the Students Mobilization Committee to End the War in Viet Nam. He sold the concept without a maquette. The buyer received paperwork like the one shown above (the title to Wall Drawing #957) and then hired craftspeople to produce the drawing on a wall as the MAG did.
We have seen many of LeWitt’s drawings over the years and I am always stuck by the way the isometric rendition of the forms plays with my senses. His forms don’t recede to any diminishing point. I came home with action points. Look up “Sol LeWitt – Sentences on Conceptual Art,” “Download Sol LeWitt app from the App Store.”
In this weekend’s NYT in an article entitled “35 Ways Real People Are Using A.I. Right Now” an entry by the artist Amy Goodchild called, “Draw like Sol LeWitt,” she described feeding Sol LetWitt’s instructions to various chatbots. “On a wall surface, any continuous stretch of wall, using a hard pencil, place 50 points at random. The points should be evenly distributed over the area of the wall. All of the points should be connected by straight lines.” With OpenAI’s older model, GPT-3, it was mostly a flop but GPT-4 did OK. Imagine if LeWitt was alive for this.
In Netflix’s extras for the new Pinocchio, Guillermo del Toro’s shows us some of the puppets used in the making of his retelling. Many are at different scales to suit the character that Pinocchio is being stop-motion-filmed with, but there are dozens at the same scale, each with a different facial expression. Del Toro says the models were printed so I assume they are plastic. I had a Pinocchio mask when I was young that I wore on Halloween. I loved the Disney version, the trip to the bad boy island especially, and I am almost afraid to watch it again. I’m quite certain del Toro’s is much richer, no matter what your age.
The Colorblind James band, the classic lineup without its leader, performed again at Abilene. There are no new songs in these performances as there was in the heyday, when Chuck was consistently churning out classics, but these songs have a whole lot of life left. They transcend Chuck’s self-described “circus rock” genre. I took that as classic, old world aspirations. Chuck was a troubadour and his poetic lyrics transcend time. His songs, performed by his band, sturdy musicians who have only gotten better over time, continue to touch your soul. Chuck’s songbook is in the most capable hands of his son, Mark. Mark is a better singer than his father. Chuck would love that! He handles the material respectfully and the same sly, wry humor shines. Long live Colorblind!
According to Visualising Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora, this Frederick Douglass monument was the first statue in the United States that memorialized a specific African-American. It was installed in front of the New York Central train station in 1899 but then moved to Highland Park in 1941 for some reason. More curiously, it sat not where it is now but down in the bowl, just off to the left in the picture above. In 2018, on the 200th anniversary of Douglass’s birth, the city commissioned Olivia Kim to construct a series of life sized replicas of the statue. The statues were placed in throughout the city in locations that were important to Douglass’s legacy. A nice idea but the fiberglass replicas look cheap compared to this one. Douglass deserves a fleet of bronze statues.
Frank Gannet died after a fall in his Sandringham Road home in 1955. He built the mighty Gannett newspaper chain, now USA Today. Rochester’s two newspapers, the Democrat & Chronicle and the Times Union, rolled off the presses in the bottom of the Gannett building on Exchange Boulevard for many years. The editorial offices were upstairs. They moved the offices to a new building in Midtown, left the heat off during the pandemic and the pipes in sprinkler systems broke open. The printing facility was moved to the western suburbs and they recently announced they would be laying off some 700 workers there. What’s left of the paper will be printed in Pennsylvania. We still subscribe. Our carrier delivers the New York Times as well. Our NYT edition is printed in Buffalo so it was understandable that they weren’t able to get the papers here during the recent snowstorm.
This morning, a mild mid-winter day, there were no papers in our box. We called our carrier, Marie, and she had left a message on her phone that informed all that were calling about “missing papers” that she drove into a sinkhole on Titus Avenue. Her car was stuck in the hole and she recorded the message while walking back to her house. We could hear her breathing hard as she walked and her story was heartbreaking, a metaphor for newspapers.
I’m guessing this photo was taken by my father on Easter Sunday. You can see my mom’s artistry in the clothes she picked out for us and herself. I treasure these old photos because they crystallize the fuzzy memories I carry around in my head. That place, that time, the relationships, the happiness along with the craziness.
My sister, Amy, who was a few year’s off when this photo was taken has the family’s slide collection in her front hall closet. I hung my coat in there last night and saw the stacks of carousels. She selected 600 some slides and we had them scanned so we could all have a copy, the evidence of our childhood. There was a Kodak slide scanner under her tree last night. More revelations are in store. We’re having dinner with Mark (shown above to my left) again tonight. It has been a real joy to to spend time with my siblings at Christmas
Pete and Shelley set the standard by which we judge woodpiles. Off the grid in the Adirondacks, they thin their property for heat in the long winter months. Their stacks are worthy of a Chelsea art gallery installation.
Our neighbor, Jared, a retired chemist for Eastman Kodak, puts wood up not like an artist but like a scientist. We turn to him for advice on all matters practical.
After two 75 year old oaks came down out back this spring Peggi and I had a record amount of wood, more than in 2020 when the picture above was taken. Instead of walking we’ve been chipping away at the pile each day for the last two weeks. We strap on our Home Depot noise cancelling headphones, cut the trunks and limbs into log length with a chainsaw, fire up the Heathkit splitter we inherited from our former neighbor, Leo and then stack the split logs. This is where it all comes together physics, geometry and risk. We have had only one pile tumble over in twenty years.
So autumn lasts forever now. We split wood yesterday. We have a serious amount from the two oaks that came down this spring. With temperatures in the fifties today it was too warm to split we so moved a few face cords onto the porch in preparation for winter’s fury.
We tried a new setup for our Thanksgiving eve gig. Melissa, the cello. player wanted to hear a little more bass. Ken usually plays his double bass in the corner so he can get a big sound without an amp. I set my drums up between him and the piano and the cello was in front of the piano. This time Melissa sat right in front of me. I had to move backward and Ken forward to accommodate the new arrangement and everything felt off.
We took Brad Fox’s stereo amp to the Hi-Fi Lounge for some maintenance. Mark, the owner was talking about the upcoming Record Store Day. I looked at the releases and spotted the the Clear Spot reissue with an album worth of outtakes so I had my neighbor pick me up one of those on Friday. Frying Pan had one of their rare gigs that night, along with Nod, so we made a night of that – after watching two World Cup matches. We have Argentina vs. Mexico in the can and plan to watch that soon and then we’re off for more music, the Debbie Kendrick Project at the Little. We plan to bring the new Clear Spot out to Brad’s and listen to it on his big speakers.