Dick Storms calls this “Backyard Brutalism.” There is quite a bit of it in the Sea Breeze neighborhood and that’s what makes it so much fun to wander around in. There is plenty of it in the city but I don’t live there anymore. We moved up near the lake fifteen years ago. Nature trumps this stuff in most cases but I am still attracted to it.
We’ve been following the mystery of the art piece officials from the Utah Department of Public Safety found in the desert. David Zwirner says it was done by one of their artists, John McCracken. McCracken died in 2011 but his son said he talked about leaving pieces behind for people to discover when he was gone. McCracken’s friend, Ed Ruscha, is not buying it.
We always stop at Zwirner’s gallery when we’re running around Chelsea. Ran into John Baldesarri there when he was showing Georgio Morundi. In 2018 Peggi took this photo in the entrance, can’t remember what show we saw here but the reflective piece is one of John McCracken’s monoliths.
One day later: I’m revisiting this post to report the mysterious monolith has been stolen.
Friday the 13th marked exactly eight months since we last had dinner guests in our house. We spent the day virtually gallery hopping. We started by joining the Eastman Museum’s 1PM Zoom presentation, A Photographic Truth, with process historian Mark Osterman. He walked us through the various photographic image making processes, demonstrating how starting in the nineteenth century, photography has always had a challenging relationship with the truth.
I have had the Cultured Mag webpage that Louise sent us open for a week now because it had a link to the Philip Guston virtual show at Hauser Wirth. That became our second destination and turned out to be a deep dive as you would expect with anything related to Guston. The show was curated by Guston’s daughter, Musa Meyer, and she narrates a beautiful walk-through. The gallery’s site includes a short video of a 1979 Roberta Smith interview with Guston that is a must see. I’m a Roberta groupie and just had just read her review of Jonathan Lyndon Chase‘s show in Friday morning’s paper.
At 6PM we joined the Zoom meeting at the Memorial Art Gallery with art critic and Warhol author, Blake Gopnik. He shared a wealth of Andy info and was thoroughly entertaining.
By the time we were coming back from our walk this morning people were gathering on our next door neighbor’s lawn. Rick, the guy in the clown suit with the flaming torches, had been teaching our neighbor, Erica Bryant‘s son, how to juggle this summer and they decided to perform for the neighborhood. Rick invited his former partner to join in and it was a real show.
I typically play horseshoes every other day with the clown next door. We are pretty evenly matched so it keeps us on our toes. I cancelled today’s match to make room for Kathy’s “Brew by the Bay” event, a really small outdoor gathering on her pergola overlooking Irondequoit Bay. It was nice enough today hang out at and in the pool and tomorrow even looks better.
I was gonna complain about the cancelled Guston shows but I will do that tomorrow
Our street is not just tree lined. There are trees between and all around most of our neighbor’s homes. Woodchuck Tree Service has done a lot of work in the neighborhood this summer. One neighbor watches them work and then they think of something that needs addressing. And while they are doing that job another neighbor hires them.
These big oaks were at least eighty feet tall and they look small in this setting. They grew too close together and rotted at the bottom. So before they fell on a house our neighbors decided to take them down. A full day’s entertainment. The crew is Haitian and their bucket was being worked on so this one guy did the climbing. Peggi and I helped the neighbors stack the log length pieces along their driveway and we plan to take a few car loads down here tomorrow.
There was a serious amount of smoking in “Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood” and a lot of smoking in “In A Lonely Place” and then some smoking in “Being John Malkovich,” the last three movies we watched. We were happy to find they are still great. Really great in fact. You can see why directors want to use these things. The mood, the pause, the period, the smoke, the prop for the actor. We found this pack of Pall Malls on a rock along the shore of Irondequoit Bay this morning.
Will Heinrich reviewed a 56 Henry virtual art exhibit called “Labyrinth of Solitude” in this morning’s NYT and described it in a way that sound very familiar to me. The curator, Jens Hoffmann, chose 13 masterworks from the Metropolitan Museum, and matched them with new paintings in themed pairings that elaborate on the timely theme of solitude, from “Death” to “Salvation” and “Identity” to “Isolation. The show is presented online as if it was hung but the Metropolitan paintings were never borrowed.
One of my pandemic projects is creating eBooks from my artist books. Called “Brief History of the World,” they are an ongoing project and are constructed in a similar manner. Old and new images, mostly borrowed from newspapers , are presented in pairs. I have five of them online now. I suggest starting with Volume XIX, the most recent of the five. It’s an easy and safe read.
The book can be viewed with any reader on any device but the phone is just a bit too small. And the book reads best in 2 page spreads because there is a dialog there. Here is the link to the free download of Brief History of the World Vol. XIX. I hope you enjoy it.
On this clear spring day, the second in a row with blue skies and near zero humidity, I have decided to post these dreary, industrial, black and white photos. Both show the Genesee River flowing north from the upper left hand corner, through downtown Rochester, over the High Falls, past Kodak and eventually out to Lake Ontario.
The photo above was taken by an anonymous City photographer sometime around 1950 and the one below was taken by me in the mid seventies. Although there is twenty five year gap between the two these are both old photos now. And it has been forty five years since I took the one below. The smokestacks are gone. Someone invented the internet. The city is reinventing itself.
I put about thirty old photos of Rochester on page called “city of rochester” under the “pictures” tab above. Check ’em out and see how far we’ve come.
For the last six days I have posted a found photo to my IG feed. I have one more lined up for tomorrow, my favorite. All of them were found along the curb or just in the road. The one above is sort of a found photo. I had had a friend who worked as a photographer for the City of Rochester. Can’t image they even have a position like that anymore. He had access to all the photos in their library and this is one of them. I can’t tell if the photo session was done on the sly or if they really thought a glam shot on one of the city’s garbage trucks was a good idea. There is an alternate shot.
I love this sculpture by Gaston LaChaise. It is in the permanent collection of the Memorial Art Gallery. We stopped there yesterday to see the Art Nouveau show before it leaves town. Our favorite part wasn’t on the walls it was a reference book in the main gallery that had a section on Moderismo in Barcelona, the Spanish cousin to Art Nouveau.
A bi-monthly visit to the MAG is always in order if only to see/hear the rotating shows in the Media Room. Ja’Tovia Gary”s “NÉGRESSE IMPÉRIALE,” shot in Claude Monet’s French garden connects her experience as a black woman with art history.
Maureen Outlaw Church has some beautiful en plan air paintings in a show that opened last night at the Williams Gallery. Not the best weather for that (en plan air) but something to look forward to.
Annie Wells has a stellar band at the moment. We heard them last night at the Little Theatre Café, Phil Marshall on guitar, his son Roy on drums Mike Kaupa on trumpet and Dave Arenius on bass. I hope Annie records with this band before the youngest one leaves town. The band makes magic with Annie’s Cool Ice Age song and others by Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Phil Marshall and The Squire himself.
Does this leaf look happy? As light as leaves are they are weighted more heavily on the stem end. And when the snow comes before the leaves have all fallen we get this delightful show.
Only a few days remain to see “Inside Out,” the Current Scene show at 248 East Avenue, right next door to Little Theatre. This is a cosmopolitan show for a small city artfully curated by Colleen Buzzard. We’ve seen the show a few times and enjoyed it most when the only other person in the space was the gallery attendee, probably one of the participating artists. The front room is playful with work from both Ann and Sue Havens. And the back room beckons with a soundtrack composite, the video installation visible through a crack in the door, of oak balls being cracked open, underground sounds coming from a manhole cover, tape being unspooled as someone tapes himself to a wall and Alan Topolski’s found Super 8 footage with his model airplane soundtrack. Alan pulls out all the stops out with his piece and it deserves its spot above the mantle. His painting, a scene lifted from his video, disappears into the wall, frame and all!
And then there are the shadows which intentionally steal the show from the objects that cast them – Martha O’Connor’s slowly turning floating fabric and a row of four sided cardboard vessels, hand painted in black and white with turquoise interiors and no bottom and arranged on a narrow glass shelf. There is a lot to experience in this small group show.
I have a different book for each location and I’m working my way through the batch at the same time.
I bring Eduardo Chillida’s “Writing” down to the pool with me. I picked the paperback up at Hauser Wirth in Chelsea last time we were down there. I’ve read it a few times. Its that kind of book. I have every other paragraph circled.
I’m reading “The Autobiography of Frederick Douglas” on my iPad, a powerful first hand account of our grisly past. I was really struck by his depiction of slave masters raping their female slaves, creating more slaves with lighter skin who looked like and were beaten by and sometimes favored by their father.
Peggi and I are both listening to “Bitten” by Kris Newby from Audible.com. It’s “The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons” and it plays like a vampire story but much worse. We’re about two thirds of the way through and we just had to talk a break. I resist conspiracy theories but this one is irresistible.
I picked up a copy of Dr. Bill Valenti’s book, “AIDS: A Matter of Urgency,” from one of those little libraries in our neighborhood. He was an early AIDs specialist and I had heard he mentioned early local patients by name. I thought I might come across Tim Schapp, Danny Scipione, Bobby Moore or Larry Fritch, all friends and early victims, but I didn’t. Not much of a book, just a bunch of well deserved thank you to people who devoted so much to that fight.
I finished “The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand” last night. It’s a beautiful book of photos with one hundred essays, one for each photo, by Geoff Dyer. Winnogrand and Dyer is a perfect match of manly artists. Winogrand’s photos are graphic, animated, visual novels and it is delightful to stay on the spread, slowly reading an essay while continually studying the photo.
I have Amy Rigby’s “Girl to City” and Sonja Livingston’s “The Virgin of Prince Street” preordered from the Apple Store.
Not much of a lineup for opening night of the annual Jazz Fest but we did find a gem.
Girls In Airports will probably reconsider their moniker when they get a little older. A five piece from Denmark, they appeared here with only one sax player and he was filling in for the other two. The keyboardist’s layered, sweeping, full range soundscape was the foundation with drums on one side and a percussionist on the other and a breathy saxophonist. There was no lead instrument, just dreamy textural magic.
I have moved my yearly Jazz Fest Notes to new location.
I won’t have to keep doing this if they keep bring back the same artists. Here’s a link to photo I took of Jake Shimabukuro, the ukulele YouTube sensation, from eleven years ago. Julia Nunes, a local ukulele YouTube sensation, can be seen down front. Jake in Rochester 2008.
I never understood how garage bands got away with it. I remember hearing bands practice in a garage in the sixties and they were as loud as hell. They were usually playing in the afternoon, when the grown ups in the house weren’t home. The walls of garages aren’t even insulated. The neighbors wouldn’t stand for it. Basements make much better practice spaces.
Now garage art is something I understand. I was a garage painter in the eighties when I painted this series of “Community Icons.” It was easy for me to pick these archetypes, the foundation of any city, in 1989. It got me thinking about who I would choose today.
“The Role Model,” above is one of 16 from that series. They were big paintings, 54″ wide by “60” high, on the back of billboard paper. You can see the whole series here: “Community Icons.“
Ken Frank has a dance song, one he did under a pseudonym, called “Lady Liberty.” First thing I thought of when I saw this place. I like the contemporary lady out front, something the owner apparently wheels in and out each day. He leaves her strapped to the cart.
We gave Duane a call while we were out walking. He was out walking too, in Brooklyn. He was over by the Brooklyn Museum when reached him. We covered all the bases, politics, race relations and the stock market.. He arrived at back at his apartment just as we reached our front door. Both of us did about six miles.
Peggi has been been doing our taxes the past few days so I’ve been fielding a lot of questions. “What did we get at “Ship To Shore?” MX-80 Out of the Tunnel on blue vinyl. “Why did we pay so much to Dropbox?” I went Pro. That reminds me. Duane put a bunch of dub Reggae remixes in a shared folder for us.
I am ready to move on but I am still savoring and digesting our big walk. Peggi and I did the Camino in two installments, a month long each, passing through Madrid on both ends of both trips. I took a lot of photos on this journey and edited them down to this batch (click on “CaminoFavorites” on the photo above and go full screen). It visually tells the story and I may want to reread it.
Jim Mott suggested we do a slideshow. He suggested that on two occasions so I considered it. I’ve not used my projector since “Subterranean Surrogates'” when it ran for a solid month in the Lab Space at RoCo. So I cleared a white wall in the studio and brought every chair we have in our house down to the basement. We invited Ann Schauman who encouraged us to do it after she completed it, people who commented on my Camino blog posts, Hispanophiles, a few artists and friends and Jim Mott, of course. The old fashioned idea worked like a charm. The conversation flowed and it was closer to a party than a presentation. We’re ready to take this show on the road.
We borrowed chairs from our neighbors’ for Christmas Eve dinner and returned them today along with a plate of cookies. Peggi made two kinds, Christmas butter cookies from her mom’s recipe and cardamom cookies from our friend, Shelley’s, recipe. Our neighbors showed us all their cookies and offered us some homemade toffee. We took a plate of cookies to neighbors across the street too. Turns out they had been making cookies all week and they offered us some of theirs. They have a 3D printer and printed a replica of their Don Hershey house a few months back. They had their mini house on a some snowy white felt along with four new Irondequoit-centric 3D print-outs, House of Guitars, Rubino’s, Pasta Villa and DiVincenzo’s Bakery.
We invited my siblings and their families for Christmas Eve dinner. My brother, Mark, comes up from New Jersey with his family, my sister, Ann, came from her seven day Christmas season shift at Parkleigh and our niece, Brittney, from our old neighborhood. We started with appetizers and conversation, wedges of Spanish Manchego cheese with quince paste, Greek olives from Wegmans, smoked salmon from Jeff Spevak’s backyard with Señorío de la Antigua Rioja.
We overate for dinner. Peggi made applesauce with Jonagold apples from Schutt’s and we served a baked ham from the Co-op, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, mixed green salad and Pears al Vino Tinto, poached pears in Red Wine for dessert. This is why Santa Claus looks the way he does.
“What if the physics of entropy was sliding between humans and objects through pure inertia?” The artist, Carlos Irijalba, uses this premiss as a springboard for his current show at Galeria MPA in Madrid. We popped in and out of a dozen small galleries on Calle Doctor Fouquet. This is our third time wandering the neighborhood behind the Reina Sofia and we were happy to see it has continued to blossom with a heavy dose of art.
We loved the Wim Wenders movie on the pope. And against all odds we’re still rooting for him, Francis. With all the walking we have been doing friends keep asking if we’ve seen Wenders’ “Paris Texas.” And of course we have but it has been a long time. So it was no surprise that the movie on our train from Madrid to Leon was “Paris Texas.” Harry Dean Stanton’s dialog was dubbed and the subtitles were in Spanish so it was a different experience.
Our first stop in Madrid, as we stumbled around the old city waiting for check-in, was this small church. People were gathering for mass so we only had a few minutes to look around. I paid my respects to this statue of Christ depicting a scene from the Passion while Peggi studied a depiction of the Virgin on the side altar next door. El Camino, part 2, is laid out before us.
Five or six miles takes a good sized bite out the day but we are less than a month away from part two of our Camino walk and we need to be ramping it up. Peggi plotted a loop from our house that took us over to the bay, down to the lake, across Lake Bluff Road (where I photographed this house on the lake) and up Birch Hills to the trail that runs along the lake at Durand. When we got to Kings Highway we scurried across the golf course to Hoffman Road. We were surprised to see a vehicle in the driveway of the house on the hill, the one that has sat empty and unfinished since the original owner walked away from place the because he couldn’t figure out how to put a driveway in. Of course he should have given that some thought before he built the house.
Bankruptcy takes time. This house sat empty for eight years. Wouldn’t it have been in someone’s interests to get an occupation there who is paying both a mortgage and taxes? I don’t get why it takes so long. Suddenly it is on the market again and sold in days. The house is built close to the road on such a steep hill that it took three switchbacks to get to level of the garage. And by the time you get up there you don’t have enough room to turn and enter the garage. The driveway is mostly washed out now but this guy got a four wheel drive pickup up to the first turn. He told us the “house was a steal.”
Forget about walking along the beach at Durand. The lake level is too high again and there is hardly any sand visible after all that rain.
We met our friends for Fungi pizza at Napa Bistro in Webster. I had been playing Sly and Family Stone singles before we left, I kicked it off the set with with “Family Affair,” and realized I had two copies of “Everyday People.” So I gave one to Matthew and Louise at lunch. Matthew tried returning the wine glasses we had left out at their place but I refused them. Louise was wearing a vintage t-shirt from her brother’s band, Luna, and we talked music, art, home improvement and boating. The time flew by.
The Church of the Transfiguration, on the corner of our street, was having a cookout toady. We had it on our calendar for a month but we had the timeframe wrong and they were packing up when got there. So we came home and ate leftovers.