The two trails shown above are actually connected. Such is the nature of pano mode. We were coming from the right, back from the lake, when I stopped to take this shot. That’s the club house up on the hill. If we were in Europe there would be a café up there. We have had a string of beautiful weather days and perfect cross country skiing.
Four days after Valentines Day Ying Quartet, the Grammy winning, longtime ensemble-in-residence at the Eastman, selected a program of romantic string quartet pieces to perform at Kilbourn on Sunday. It was a perfect match with the Greta Gerwig Criterion pick we had watched the night before, “A Brief Encounter” with Celia Johnson.
As nice as it is to walk in the woods, the park and along the lake our walks were often more interesting when we lived in the city. We would find stuff on the street and at the curb. In the late nineties we came across a kid carrying boxes of stuff out to the street. We asked him what was going on and he said, “Someone died here.” So we went through the boxes and found personal effects like a social security card, a Taylor Instruments id, a Blinded Veterans Association card and a pass that would allow George Brandt to ride City buses for free if accompanied by an aid.
We also found a lot of photos. Strange photos in an interesting way. Some of them so odd we surmised they were taken by someone who might have been blind. But then George was in quite a few of the photos. So I don’t know who to credit these photos to. I am putting some of the on my “Found Photos” page. I have quite a few of those so it will take me some time to populate this page. I like to think someone will find some of my junk when I’m gone and at least puzzle over it.
Surely Rochester has more Italian restaurants per capita than any other city. At least it always seemed that way. The Refrigerator, the website not the broadsheet, had a section called “That’s Italian.” We, the editors, mostly me, would post reviews of local Italian restaurants and readers would send in their reviews, sometimes anonymously. We took the site down years ago but I kept the content and posted it under “Features” in the nav bar.
The only Italian food we had growing up was Chef Boyardee. My father would pronounce the word Italian will a long “I” (like eye-talian.) I had Italian friends though and quickly developed a taste. Caruso’s Restaurant on Canandaigua was the first Italian restaurant I remember eating at. In high school my girlfriend’s older brother (center above) drove us to Caruso’s on Canandaigua Lake for dinner before the prom. I think the main attraction was their reputation for not asking for id but the place felt exotic to me. We ordered Chianti and lasagna.
Peggi’s birthday is Thursday and we’re planning on having dinner at Lucano’s, a long time favorite Italian restaurant. There should be a review of it in “That’s Italian.”
Thirty-eight degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for walking. We headed up to the library today. Took Titus in both directions instead of the Kings Highway up and Titus back loop. I was tempted by the “Biblical Tales” and “80’s Mobster” packages in Blind Date offerings. I thought the idea was particularly creative but figured it was in the Librarian playbook. Peggi read a bit of Thurston Moore’s book while I checked out the art section. I bought a two dollar book titled “Windows to Rochester” in their sales section, a local history book put together by the Rochester School for the Deaf for Rochester’s 1984 Sesquicentennial. I was struck by this April 28, 1896 entry:
“The steamer, “North King” made her initial trip of the season yesterday. She arrived from Kingston and cleared for Coburg and Port Hope. She will make day trips from Charlotte this season instead of night trips, as has been her custom for several years past. The growth of steam navigation on Lake Ontario has met the requirements of modern progress, and for many years there has been a daily service. The perfection of steamboat navigation service in these days is one of the greatest boons. It enables people to make quick trips to new and interesting regions with little expense and much comfort. The North King is indeed a very different vessel to its venerable ancestor, the Frontenac, (launched on Lake Ontario in 1816,) whose ghost, if it sails the lake or walks the earth, must look with bewildering astonishment at the electric motors which provide the means to illuminate the saloons and staterooms of the North King with electric lights, and at the speed with which it conveys its passengers in luxury to the most charming and quaint resorts in the queen’s dominion, where many Rochesterians spend happy days in summer time.”
A steamship with saloons and staterooms making daily luxury trips to Canada! Mayor Johnson brought this idea back in the nineties and we crossed to Toronto a couple of times on the Fast Ferry before he was laughed out of town. We are indeed going backwards.
I played a Sarah Vaughn single at dinner the night before last and Peggi told me she woke up with the song stuck in her head. She sang a few bars of it and it was stuck in my head all day. We were pretty certain the RPO’s performance of The Rite of Spring would cleanse our heads. As magnificent as it was it failed to do so.
It is hard to imagine people walking out of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps in 1913. One hundred and ten years later the piece is so melodic and memorable it feels like an old friend. Instead of Ballets Russes, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, the RPO performed with Garth Fagan Dance, choreographed by Norwood Pennewell, “PJ.” It was magical. One moment sent chills down my spine. The primary dancers were clustered on the left side of the stage (is that stage right?) and they were lit to direct our attention accordingly. A group of dancers, either sitting or reclining on the right side of the stage were minimally lit. They rolled their bodies to the left in unison. In our peripheral vision it felt like spring unfolding.
We spent Saturday at our neighbor’s birthday party. Four hours of Jamaican dancehall music, party chat and football playoffs. I was in the kitchen, showing someone my picture of swimmers at Durand from earlier in the day, when my watch and every iPhone in the room sounded an alarm from NY Emergency Management. “Heavy snow will reduce visibility to zero and travel will be impossible.” We were planning to go to Nod’s record re-release party.
The party broke up around nine and the weather didn’t look so bad so we braved the 13 minute ride, our second Saturday night at Skylark. Brave of Casey to host this bill. We hadn’t heard Pengo in a few years and they sounded great. Two synths, drums and a guitar that sounded like a bass in one swirling rush of avant Rochester. Emily Robb was next. She bowed her guitar while we struggled to hear what her synth accompanist was playing. Having started the party early we started to fade early and left while Nod was still planning their set. We brought home their lp, a re-release of their 1992 debut but this time on vinyl. “Summertime” is an anthem like the Stooges “1969” and “1970” and it so good to have on wax.
“I have come to the sad conclusion that there never was an age that was wholly civilized—that there was always the barbarism & savagery that we know to-day, with a few beautiful spirits who lit up their age.”
—Janice Biala, quote from Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel
That quote is from “Ninth Street Women” by Mary Gabriel, a fascinating book about the women artists at the center of America’s Abstract Expressionist movement. I was anxious to read more last night but we opted to watch the third to the last episode of the original Hawaii Five 0 series and I feel asleep. We have worked our way through all thirteen seasons. Danno bailed last season and the show seems lost, just as we will be when the series ends.
Today is the last day that “Lost In Translation” will be available on Netflix. It was so good. Roger Ebert, while still alive, (his site lives on) wrote “Bill Murray’s acting in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” is surely one of the most exquisitely controlled performances in recent movies. Without it, the film could be unwatchable. With it, I can’t take my eyes away. Not for a second, not for a frame, does his focus relax, and yet it seems effortless. It’s sometimes said of an actor that we can’t see him acting. I can’t even see him not acting. He seems to be existing, merely existing, in the situation created for him by Sofia Coppola.”
A neighbor of ours dropped dead at sixty. We saw his obit on Christmas Eve and stopped over to visit his longtime partner. It’s pretty clear time is running out. We heard the Stooges,”1970,” in our car on the way home from Jeff and Mary Kaye’s. “1969, baby,” “Ninteen-seventy rollin’ in sight” and now – I don’t want think about it.
The witch hazel, the ultra fragrant, butterscotch strain in the park that usually blooms in February is out now.
My brother, Mark, and his family came up from New Jersey bearing gifts for the holiday – three collages by Qasim Sabti. Scott McCarney would call this one “book art” since I don’t see much added to it. It is what is left of a book, wide open, turned on its side with all of its bound pages and some of the inside cover removed. Proving subtraction is as powerful a tool as addition. We love these and plan to take them out to Warren Phillips Framing when he reopens after the holiday.
I have no idea where Qasim Sabti is today but he did a beautiful job of providing the back story to these pieces.
Tale of the Phoenix
“In April, 2005, the bombings took a heavy toll on Baghdad. Many parts of the city were reduced to rubble. Worse, chaos broke out in the streets, driving the city into utter hell.
The morning after that first sleepless night I went to check on a place most dear to me, the Academy of Fine Arts. It was here that I had studied and enhanced my artistic skills. To my dismay, the Academy’s street was littered with books, and pages torn from them blew in the dry wind. As I entered the Academy’s library, my senses were abruptly confronted by an acrid smoke that silently drifted above irregular mounds of charred books. In that instant discovery combined with pain, I saw that my beloved Academy had become another victim of a mob out of control. They had emptied the library shelves and set the books afire. The destruction was total. As I walked about, the pressure of my feet on damp and partially burned pages seemed to gently squeeze more pungent odors into the silence around me. I realized that a new bitterness in the air was the source of my tears. I just couldn’t be certain how much of those tears were caused by the smoke and how much were from being emotionally distraught.
I felt like a fireman desperately in need of finding survivors. As I pushed through the piles, I noticed a few books that, although covered with soot, appeared to have survived. That’s when I spotted a book with a pale yellow cover. As I picked it up, I felt my fingers shaking. I brushed off the soot. Here was a survey of beautiful Russian landscape paintings. Suddenly, just as I started to turn the pages, the book collapsed. The whole block of pages, first weakened by the fire and later by the water, dropped from its spine. The pages scattered around me on the damp dirty floor.
Now I held only the cloth cover. Looking closer, I was haunted by the little details of life that filled the inside cover: strips of cotton, some Arabic verses scribbled in pencil, notes written by the librarian. My imagination was reborn. Here I found the essence of life deeply inscribed as signs of one book’s extensive journey. I was filled with a new sense of life and hope. I also found it visually inspiring. Like the fireman realizing that some victims were still breathing, I began to gather together more covers that called to me. The appearance of the cover was most important. Collectively, these books challenged me to bring them back to life from their graveyard floor.
I brought a pile of the damaged covers back to my studio and immediately started to work. With passionate fingers, I started to transform them. First, I rubbed their surfaces to remove much of their previous literary appearance. Next, I cut swatches from the covers, punched holes, re-applied loose delicate strings and lacey webbings, and even painted on them. In the process, I was ever-mindful that these books once documented so many great achievements in world history. Once, they had been valuable resources for the people of Iraq. Now, in their transformed state, these collages were bringing back life to books whose texts had been completely destroyed. These works of art are newly-derived from sacred bones. As such, they should stand as symbolic documents of the resilience of cultural life. They are also my attempt to gain victory over the destruction surrounding us in Baghdad.”
The clerk in the clothing store was sitting in the corner of the small shop. We were in Merida for our nephew’s wedding and they paint walls there in colors that are not in our vocabulary. In this case both of the walls leading to the corner were beautiful. And, of course, there is that black cord in the corner, an electric line that would not be up to code in the U.S. I waited for Peggi to take something to the dressing before asking the clerk if I could move the table in order to take this photo. I didn’t have enough Spanish to express this so I mostly used gestures. The photo was in my “Portals & Planes” show. It didn’t sell so I put it in the RoCo Members Show which opens tonight.
Could there be more of a contrast between two images than these two photos?
We stopped into Casado Santapau Gallery to see a show our first evening back in Madrid. The woman behind the desk recommended three nearby galleries and she took me to an instagram page that rounds up contemporary art in Madrid. We made a point of going to those three galleries this morning and each was eye opening. The Colombian artist, Mateo Lopez, at Travesia Cuatro was playful and entirely modern. Inma Feminía at Max Estrella showed her black mirrors, dyed plastic hangings and a black light image in a dark room that captivated us. The Japanese artist, Yoshihiro Suda, at Elvira Gonzales showed tiny botanical motifs at actual scale in large white rooms. The concept overwhelmed the work.
Our next two stops were more provincial. The Museo del Romanticismo was fun but I suspect only romantic for the very, very wealthy, as in royalty. The Museo de Historia de Madrid was enlightening as it made clear the city developed over five centuries as a playground for the elite. The royal family employed 22,000 people alone.
We found a great spot for dinner and split an arugula salad with fennel, pear, parmesan and walnuts and a deep black rice dish with calamari, ink and a large prawn. We came back to the hotel room to relax for a bit and went out to the exhibition at Fundación “la Caixa’ entitled “Venerated and Feared: Feminine Power in Art and Beliefs.” This show covered some 5000 years with pieces from antiquity to the present, from Ancient Greece to Marina Abramovic.
Oranges litter the streets in Sevilla. It is the warmest city in Europe. Our hotel room has an outdoor shower on the patio. I took one this morning. We took one last walk across the bridge over the Rio Guadalquivir and then got on a high speed train to Madrid where it is ten degrees cooler. We had roasted asparagus and a mixed mushroom dish at a restaurant around the corner from our hotel. And then we wandered.
We found a gallery on the next block with some intriguing paintings, abstracts painted on a mesh over abstracts on board. The attendant there told us about a show, “Before America,”at Foundation Juan March so we walked over there into Salamanca, a neighborhood we had not yet explored. This isn’t a corporate sponsored foundation. Juan March was the richest man in Spain, “the Rockefeller of Spain,” “the last pirate of the Mediterranean.” With the richest of sources the show illustrated the influence of indigenous civilizations on what is now called the Americas, on art from Man Ray to Joseph and Annie Albers. There were no photos allowed but the foundation is offering a poster of my favorite piece.
When we walked across Spain five years ago we divided our trip in two, walking from France to León and taking a break to return to Rochester for a month of Margaret Explosion gigs. In León we visited Casa Botines, the Modernist building designed by Antoni Gaudí. There is a museum in the building now and I found a small Chillida book in their book store. The book was in Spanish but the illustrations went deeper than anything in the museum. I bought the book (google translated it) and ever since we have crossed paths, either by plan or serendipity.
We took a high speed train to Sevilla this afternoon where it is almost twenty degrees warmer. We walked across the Rio Guadalquivir river and along the bank on the other side, a neighborhood called Triana. We crossed back over on another bridge and came across this piece called “La Tolerancia.” I photographed it from all sides and couldn’t decide which to post. We bought a loaf of fresh bread, some cheese and a bottle of wine and returned to our room in the old section of this beautiful city.
“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.” – Eduardo Chillida (1988) from “En Silos”
Our room here in Bilbao is almost too small to exercise in. In fact it is barely bigger than our bed. We’ve been averaging 8 or 9 miles a day of walking so we’ll let the morning exercises slip for a few days. We had a café near our place and then walked to Cafe Iruña, the oldest café in Bilbao according to something Peggi read, for more café, tortilla and fresh squeezed orange juice.
We bought tickets for the Guggenheim online and we started with the Richard Serra installation. He has his own wing here in Frank Gehry’s space age castle. I was reminded of my first encounter with Serra, an article in Art Forum about the controversy surrounding his “Titled Arc,” commissioned by the city of New York and eventually dismantled when people complained about having to walk around it on their way to work. The pieces here, all giant slabs of steel, gracefully shaped into forms that invited you in, reminded me of the fun house at Sea Breeze Amusement Park. I was a little bothered by the clash with Gehry’s organic setting, wondering if it was any better than a white cube, but that’s being way too picky. This was tour de force. Like every major museum in the world, the Guggenheim has a Picasso show timed with the fiftieth year since his passing. This one was all sculpture from all his periods and it was a sensation. The museum installed this show with a generous amount of space, allowing you to move freely around the work. Finally, someone here curated an absolutely beautiful show of the Museum’s collection, a Sol LeWitt installation, Motherwell, Tapies, Oteiza and more Chillida!
We had lunch/dinner at a seafood place nearby. We split una ensalada verde, gambas al ajillo and sea bass (the whole fish). We had walked by the Museo Bilbao yesterday and someone outside said the museum was closed for the installation of a new show. They told us to “Come back tomorrow,” so that was our next stop. The Museo paired centuries old artists like Morales, Ribera, Velazquez with artists from the last century. Some really nice Saura’s and Oteiza sculptures.
From the Museo we walked across the river into the Casco Viejo, the old section. We had a beer at an outdoor café, a “1906,” the especial cerveza from Estrella Galicia. When we were here in the nineties Bilbao was celebrating their big yearly festival and we watched a parade with gigantescas in this old section. We stopped at a bookstore and chatted with the. owner. He confirmed our assessment. Nearby San Sebastián is idyllic but Bilbao is for real. San Sebastián is aristocratic and Bilbao knows how to have fun.
Arranging our itinerary on the fly last night, Peggi booked a room in the Parador in Hondarribia, about a half hour to the east of San Sebastián, still on the coast, it is the last town in Spain before the French border. We are just north of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, where we started the Camino de Santiago. The hotel was formerly the home of Carlos Quinto, the Holy Roman Emperor in 1500.
Our room overlooks the channel that separates Spain and France, the Bay of Bisque and the Pyrenees. This was the first first parador we stayed in thirty three years ago. We reread our trip notes from that year and noted that we played Gin in our room and Peggi won two out of three. So we asked at the desk if they had any playing cards but no luck.
We had dinner at a restaurant called Zeria and sat outside on the patio of a small very Basque looking building that has been here since 1575. We had bream fish, the whole fish, baked with garlic and olive oil, ensalada and a glass of wine. After dinner we walked back to the statue we had seen from the bus on the way into town. It depicts San Juan de Dios who has apparently been knocked from his horse by the Archangel Gabriel. Maybe his conversion?
At the Chillida Museum we learned the number 3 had a special significance for the artist. Today we found that the third time is indeed a charm. We walked to the edge of town for the third time and finally found it safe to enter the the plaza where Peines de Viento is installed. The wind had prevented us from entry for two days. We took at ton of photos like everybody else except we didn’t do any selfies. The three Chillida pieces installed here are a flat out masterpiece. This is how Chillida described it.
““My sculpture, The Comb of the Wind, is the solution of an equation that has elements instead of numbers: the sea, the wind, the cliffs, the horizon and the light. The steel shapes are mixed with the forces and aspects of nature, they speak to them, they are questions and answers.”
Now what? Chillida Leku was our target, the pièce de la résistance of our trip to Spain. We did not imagine it would be as good as it was. How could we have? We were in the master’s garden for most of today. Near the end of his life Chillida bought an estate on a gently rolling hillside just outside of San Sebastián. He situated his sculptures in this gorgeous, natural setting so they have a dramatic dialogue with their surroundings.
We too carried on a dialog with the pieces as we walked from one to the next. Some were thirty yards or more apart so your perspective and vantage point continually changes as you approach. And when you’re near, your instincts take over. You get close enough to touch (you are allowed to) or walk around the piece or maybe back off to find your sweet spot for dialog. It was exhilarating.
During our time with Duane in New York I devoured as much as I could of two Brancusi books. One featured Brancusi’s photos of his sculpture (the catalog from a show we saw in Chelsea) and the other his relationship with Duchamp. With photography Brancusi brought new beauty and mystery to his work. His photography was a full fledged part of his work, presenting sculpture in a two dimensional space. As Duane pointed out – no studio photographer, no matter how skilled, could bring as as much mood and feeling to his work.
“Medardo Rosso. Pionero de la escultura moderna” at Sala Recoletos in Madrid dramatically illustrates that Medardo Rosso was way ahead of his time. Working at the turn of the century in Italy and then France he was profoundly misunderstood in his time although appreciated by Rodin, Giacometti and Brancusi. Rossi and Brancusi even traded pieces before having a falling out. Like his god-like successors Rossi doesn’t hide the heroic effort involved with creation from a lump of clay. “Carne altrui” [Flesh of Others], above, features a French prostitute.
Photography was a brand new medium in Rosso’s time and like Brancusi Rosso photographed his sculptures in a manner that transformed the sculptures. The photographs look mysterious and unreal or sometimes more real than the sculpture. Rosso’s time has come.
Bands perform in the Little Theatre Café every night but Tuesday. On Tuesday they took down last month’s art show and put up the new one, “Portals and Planes – Photos by Paul Dodd.” I check the Little’s calendar to see who would be playing there while the photos are up. Ensemble Aztlan was there last night so we stopped out. It was some sort of cosmic alignment that had my photo of a musician in a white shirt strumming a guitar as he crossed the street in Merida hanging directly behind a Mexican guitar player in a traditional white shirt.
The six musicians in Ensemble Aztlan play guitar, bihuela, guitarron, jarana, trumpet, violin, cajon, bass, saxophone and a donkey jaw. They were muy tipico and a pure delight. My opening for the photo show is scheduled for Sunday afternoon on September 10th, 2-4 pm. Peggi and I plan to play a very short set at some point. Margaret Explosion plays while the show is up on Wednesday, September 13.
Yesterday’s match was nerve wracking. Japan, a typically possession heavy side, frustrated the hell out of Spain, a way heavy possession side, by hunkering down in their own half, 5 4 1 style, and picking moments to breakaway. They scored four goals in what seemed like only ten forays into the Spanish end. Spain had three quarters of the possession and no goals.
We have been limiting ourselves to one match a day for the opening rounds. It is tough staying away from the news. Even watch alerts can spoil our recorded matches. This morning Kerry and Claire met us here at 7:30 AM so we could watch the US/Portugal match that was aired live at 3AM EST. They brought croissants from Pittsford Bakery and we made eggs. The match, as Sparks would say was, “Sad.” They failed to score and settled for a tie to squeeze into the round of 16.
Our favorite team in the tournament is Colombia. Our favorite player is Linda Caicedo. They thrilled us with their goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time, defeating number two ranked Germany. A clash of civilizations.
That’s Australia’s Alanna Kennedy next to the US’s Lynn Williams, New Zealand’s Abby Erceg and Sam Mewis from USWNT when they were all playing for the Flash, our local soccer franchise. I glommed onto a professional photo of the team at a dinner for season ticket holders. Samantha Kerr, Marta, Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair all played for the Flash. Kerry Regan reminded us how lucky we were. And we got see all the other international stars when they traveled to Rochester with their home teams.
We’re watching older versions of all these players now as the World Cup unfolds. The US is not a cinch for their third title. Spain looks amazing. And mighty Haiti almost undid the European champions, England. This tournament is just getting started.
In the middle of the World Cup it is tempting to pick up an Apple TV+ subscription to MLS just to watch Messi. His first match in a pink uniform and he scores in the 94th minute to break a 1-1 tie with Cruz Azul vs Miami. And it is not just Messi. Two of our favorite Barcelona players, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have joined him in the unofficial capital of Latin America.
Our friends, Matthew and Louise are settled in their swanky new place in Waikiki. And their car is no longer in our driveway. A driver from Hot Car Go arranged to meet us near the cemetery where he loaded their car onto this mile long truck. He is bound for Oakland where the car will be put on a freighter and shipped to Honolulu.