There was a period, a few years back, when I photographed every dumpster I saw. One of them was in our next door neighbor’s yard just after he died. He was one of the old timers, the original owner of a Don Hershey classic that was built in the late forties. You can see just a bit of his former garage door in the photo above. The dumpster is in our driveway. We’re getting a new roof, a metal one, just like our friends, Pete and Shelley.
The workers left their magnet on wheels here when they left for the day so Peggi and I took turns pushing it around the yard. Mostly`we found nails, roofing nails.
The cash register lines at Home Depot all had a sign that read “National Cash Shortage. Please use exact change for your purchase if possible.” It struck me as odd because I take every opportunity not to use cash. I use Apple Pay whenever possible and if others are doing this too you’d think there would piles of extra cash around. Then again, I try not to carry coins in my pockets. I have an old ashtray next to the bed with a pile of coins in it. Maybe that’s where all the cash is. And why doesn’t Home Depot accept Apple Pay?
These sidewalk preachers were really putting on a show. Dressed like shepherds in a manger scene they were videoing the proceedings while preaching to a handful of other guys in robes. And then there was me, on my way to Rochester Art Supply. The sign in front of the speaker showed the classic head of Christ, the 1940 portrait by Warner Sallman, but with red horns and the head proclaimed, “This Is The Devil. Jesus Is A Negro.” I kind of suspected that. I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from, going on about President Wilson and the Gold Standard. I took a photo and moved on.
Today is la última jornada for most European soccer clubs. The three teams we follow, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid all play at the same time. They did this last week as well and it surprised us. We record the games and planned to watch them one at a time but they go split screen in the middle of the match when a team in a concurrent match scores a goal and that sort of spoils the ones we have recorded.
La Liga got us through the pandemic. They played the whole season without fans and most of the teams had Covid outbreaks amongst the players but they completed the 38 weeks (the 20 La Liga clubs play each of the other teams twice in the season). We watched well over a hundred matches.
We started the season cheering for Real and Barcelona. One of those two have won the league championship every year but one for the last twenty years. But each time we watched Atlético we liked them more. There is a lot riding on today’s match. Atlético has been in first place for most of the season. Barcelona is out of the race after losing last week but if Real wins and Atlético loses Real would be champs. Atlético has an easier game going against one of the bottom placed clubs, one of the three that will be relegated to Segunda División next year. Go Atlético!
These guys in day-glow suits had Parcel 5 perfectly graded this morning. The grass seed will probably be next. I was one of the contrarians who wanted something other than empty space in the middle of downtown but I’m good with the park idea as long it is more interesting than lawn. I was holding out for the return of city center and all that used to go with it. Stores, offices, newsstands, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and a place to hang out while skipping school. Stuff that is never coming back.
Imagine how this 1822 octagonal lighthouse feels today. It’s not just that the Port of Rochester is no longer bustling but the land around it has been “reclaimed.” That’s the term the historical society uses in the signage on the property. Piers were built and rebuilt on either side of the mouth of the mighty Genesee and over time the land on the other side of the river filled in, stranding the lighthouse. It still manages to overlook the river rather proudly. My father gave it some respect in a series of watercolors.
When lockdown started last spring Jim Mott told us the birder crowd was bad about social-distancing. So desperate to see what others spotted they get right on top of each other and it spooked him. We stopped today to take in some sun while we looked out on the marsh off Hoffman Road. Our neighbor’s daughter walked by and we told her we thought we had seen our first Red-winged Blackbird. She told us she already had. My father was an avid birder and it is his birthday today. This is one of my favorite paintings of his. So descriptive. He perfectly animates the typical birder body type.
We got the new issue of the Historic Brighton newsletter this week. We did their website for many years. My father was one of the founders and the group now has a Leo Dodd Fund they use for preservation projects. They give out an annual Leo Dodd Heritage Preservation Award and this year it is going to Richard Miller for his work a volunteer caretaker of the Brighton Cemetery. At the end of Hoyt Place off Winton Road, the cemetery sits right next to the expressway, which in 1821, was the Erie Canal bed and when they moved the canal it became the subway line. And then the expressway.
We wizzed by the cemetery on our way downtown yesterday. You can get a quick look of it from 490 before the trees fill in. The cemetery is older than Brighton or Rochester. The area’s earliest pioneers are buried here. Abner Buckland, Brighton’s brickyard owner, is buried here. Its two acres filled up a long time ago but today it is a pretty oasis full of history. With the help of the “Leo Dodd Fund,” Brighton Cemetery is now a designated landmark of the City of Rochester. A birthday gift to my father!
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.
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 sounds 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” byKris 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 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.“