“Untitled 002 with yellow” is my favorite painting in RoCo’s annual Members Exhibition. Show runs through February 10. It’s a good one.
Suspicion and speculation clouded our recent conversations with neighbors. Someone’s dog was leaving piles in the road. Not formed but soft-like mounds. Jared’s grandkids stepped in it when they throwing a football around. We spotted some in front of our house but didn’t think much of it. Monica probably didn’t want us to think it was their dog – the piles were too big for Domino so he was off the hook – and she speculated that it might be a coyote. We hear them all the time but hardly ever see them. Over the weekend Jared found a dead coyote behind his shed. He said it looked like old age had caught up with the greying animal. Peggi and I went down to look at it. It’s frozen and intact. Animal Control was called but they probably have the day off for the holiday.
Before posting my mail art collection the other day I looked everywhere for my favorite postcard, one we had hanging on our refrigerator for years, the one that had Peggi’s mom in hysterics. But no luck. I did find a low res version of front and I’m posting it here.
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 guess it was the Ray Johnson book that prompted me to post some of the postcards we’ve received over the years. I have a cigar box full but have only added a few in recent years. The custom is so old-fashioned. As I scanned them I realized about half of the senders have already passed. And if some in the other half object to me sharing these please let me know.
So it finally snowed. We waxed our skis and tried to ski for the first time this year. We got most of the way up to the lake before the snow started sticking so we trudged back. Not complaining. It was pretty. Supposed to go back in the forties this week. In my New Year’s Eve post I noted the ultra fragrant (butterscotch like) witch hazel in the park, that usually blossoms in February, was in full bloom already. I’m sure it will be fine but this cherry tree is not so hardy. What is it doing blossoming in January?
The Members Show opening at RoCo was so crowded we couldn’t see the art. We made a point of revisiting over the weekend. It is always a good one. So many familiar names on the wall, most of whom you recognize before reading the tag. I was happy to see my “Cord in Corner” sold, 100% to RoCo.
Our refrigerator was stuffed before the holidays and nearly empty yesterday. A trip to Wegmans was in order. The battery in the key fob was low so we changed that before getting in the car. We watched a YouTube video on how to get it open. I used my knife and the fob fell apart in our hands. All the little plastic buttons fell on the counter. I placed them back in their slots and inadvertently set off the car alarm. I looked out and saw a delivery truck in the driveway. The driver was afraid to get out of his truck while the alarm was sounding. We opened the car door and the alarm stopped.
We put the fob back together with the new battery and got in the car to go to Wegmans. The car wouldn’t start and the dashboard display cycled through a series of warnings. We went back in the house and called Triple A. We have been members for years and have never used the service. An attendant was here in twenty minutes and he ran a few tests on our battery with his phone. He told us we had about twenty per cent left in the battery and we should be ok for a while.
We went up to Wegmans, saw the guitar player from Joywave in the produce department and we spent a couple of hundred dollars on the basics. We loaded up the car and it wouldn’t start. We called Triple A again and the same guy showed up. He gave us a jump again and suggested we go to Autozone for a new battery. 2024 is off to a good start!
Cheryl Laurro was the queen of Monroe Avenue back in the nineties. Her clothing store, Godiva’s, functioned like a coffee bar with no coffee. Conversation was the main item on the menu, then music by her latest infatuation. She was a big booster of local artists, poets and writers. She released a series of cassette tapes, all produced by Arpad, by local musicians. My favorite was by Dave Ripton, “Poetry Sucks Me.”.
Peggi and I bought the painting above after seeing it in Cheryl’s shop. Later we got to know both Dave and Todd. Peggi and I backed Todd in a series of poetry readings and I played drums in Ripton’s band. Dave was as much a poet as a musician. He tore it up at a Water Street gig I played with him. Every encounter with Dave since the nineties was meaningful. He made it so.
Dave moved to Maine for years and ditched most of his bad habits. He painted houses there and we hired him this summer when he returned. It was a treat spending time with him. He asked me if I ever go down a street and think, this is the last time I’m gonna drive down this street? I said, yeah, sometimes. He said “that’s “Black Irish. I do it all the time.” He became somewhat of a regular at Margaret Explosion shows again. I hugged him at the November gig and he was all bones. I held my tears. We heard he was coming to the Christmas show but . . .
I asked ChatGPT to “Write a short blog post for New Years in the style of Paul Dodd.” It came up with the heading above and this:
“As we bid farewell to the old and embrace the uncharted terrain of the new, let us channel the spirit of Paul Dodd and embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth.
In the canvas of time, each stroke of the clock paints a unique masterpiece, and the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve is a symbol of renewal. Dodd’s approach to art teaches us to find beauty in the imperfections, much like the tapestry of our lives.
As the year turns, let us not just make resolutions but rather, let’s sculpt intentions. Dodd’s artistry lies in the ability to capture the essence of the moment, to freeze time with a stroke of his brush. Similarly, let us freeze our aspirations in the frame of purpose, creating a roadmap for the months ahead.
In the spirit of Paul Dodd, let’s not fear the blank canvas of the year ahead but instead, embrace it with open hearts. May we paint our stories with courage, resilience, and a touch of the extraordinary.
As the clock ticks, let the stroke of midnight be a celebration of the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. Here’s to a year of artful living, where each day is a canvas waiting to be adorned with the colors of joy, love, and purpose. Happy New Year!”
“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 neighbor wears headphones when he takes the dog out. Who reads anymore? If I were you I would skip reading what I have posted below and just click the play button.
Does my voice sound funny? That’s kind of what I thought. I created a fake voice and I’m tryin’ it out. If you didn’t know better, would this fool you? I know the cadence is wrong. It is too formal and the personality is a little flat. I plan to do another take – loosen it up.
This is not a tech post by any stretch. I stumbled my way through the setup process. I read about a new feature in the latest IOS and I couldn’t wait to check it out. Apple gives you 150 sentences to read. Mundane sentences that have no relation to one another. All matter of fact like. And when you’re done you plug your device in, lock it and let it grind away. In the morning you’r’ll find a “Personal Voice” waiting for you, one that sounds an awful lot like you. But something is off.
Our friend, Pete, was using this technology back around the turn of the millennium. He created a radio show called “Ask Mr. Breakfast.” The guests who called in spoke in the default system voices. This track is on the recently released $100 invisible box set of digital downloads of twenty full length projects. A real cd is available here.
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 years go by but each one goes in a circle at the same time so that brings us to another Goners Christmas Show. Bobby is a marvel. He plays guitar upside down, sings, solos and covers most the arrangement of classic swing, jazz, country and rock n’ roll Christmas songs by himself. Brian Williams is the sturdiest of accompanists, reading charts while slapping and even twirling his bass. Jimmy has the coolest drum set in town and he plays it better than anyone I know. This band makes rock n roll sound like the lord’s music.
Nobody knows for sure but it is generally accepted that Christ was born between 6 BC and 4 BC, the year in which King Herod died. This makes the whole AD, BC timeline a bit suspect. For instance in ten days we will be ringing in the year 2028, 29 or 30 AD. And when Christ became famous enough the powers that be planted his birth day near the winter solstice.
We picked the last of our collards and kale before the snow fell and brought home a big bag of arugula and lettuce. This fall has been unusually warm but the solstice will arrive on schedule and we plan to celebrate. I’m down with the Mayans who saw winter solstice as a time of renewal and rebirth.
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.
I have a flat file drawer labeled “Stuff to Save” that I have stuffed stuff to its limit. I took everything out. I’m at an age where I should be throwing most things out so this will be time consuming. I came across an old photo from Martin’s wedding. Pat Mosch looked so thin. Sitting next to him was Brian Horton, Ted Williams and Sue Schepp. Only Pat remains.
We ran into Brenda down by the lake today. She lives farther away than we do so we were sort of impressed. She’s only baking at Atlas Eats three days a week now as the owners are cutting back on the hours. Peggi congratulated her and said, “People are dropping all around us.”
Corrine recently joined that club. Last time we saw here was in the Fifth Avenue Apple where she worked. When we first met her she was working Rochester One Stop, supplying djs and the local record shops. She worked for my uncle at the 12 Corners Super Duper for a while. Corrine was a great photographer, even worked for Varden Studios here as their touch-up artist. She taught me how to push film speeds beyond their limit and gave us some gorgeous photos of early Patti Smith in low light. Her father installed a hot water tank in our house. Brought it down in the basement by himself.
Corrine and Kevin spent some time in London when it was the center of the universe. I’m sure she charmed Dee Generate, the drummer Eater before taking this shot. She was good at that and just as good at calling out bullshit. She was one of a kind.
I remember going downtown with my mother, driving through the old Can of Worms when she said, “I wish they could get rid of these billboards. They are such an eyesore.” I laughed and told her I like them. I can see them getting out of hand but I still like them. They are a great distraction while you’re driving. I remember first being wowed by them behind the home run fence at Red Wing Stadium on Norton.
When we lived in city we had what I thought of as minor league billboards. At the end of our street. They were small and positioned on buildings with only moderate traffic out front. I assume the business owners rented their rooftop or wall space. How many extra cans of Dinty Moore Stew do think Wegmans sold after this campaign?
I took these photos more than twenty years ago. I wish I had taken more. It was always a treat when they changed them. I remember calling the Virgin’s 800 number back then and I took a chance that that would still be active today. I didn’t get to hear the Virgin but someone promised they would send materials about sightings of the Virgin if I left my name and number.
Sometime in the late seventies, by chance, we ran into Norm and Pam at the Miami airport. They and their young family were headed to Jamaica. I lived with Norm and Pam and babysat (changed diapers) for their son, Simon, in exchange for my rent. And before that I lived in the trailer that Pam’s dad owned with Pam and Steve and Dave and at times, Rich, Jeff, Brad, Joe, and Norm (when he was home on leave.) I was there with Pam when her father, Harold, came down from Indianapolis with the trailer in tow and backed it into lot #10 on Monon Drive. We lived rent free for a while but had to pitch in on lot rental, around dollars a month. We unplugged the electric meter and ran it backwards in the weeks leading up to meter reading so our bill was close to nothing. We had the luxury of leaving the oven on with the door open in the winter.
I was trying to remember how I met Pam but I can’t come up with the connection. She was really sweet and had the best smile. We met in Bloomington where we both had either dropped out or were dropping out of IU. Pam came to visit me at my parents’ home for the July 4th weekend in 1970. I introduced her to my friend, Norm. They fell in love, immediately. They were married shortly thereafter. Pam passed away a few days ago..
Norm was two years behind me in high school. He lived near us and our mothers were friends. When I was a freshman, living in the dorm, Norm’s mom called me to say Norm had run away and he was headed out to stay with me. He stayed about a week and then returned to Rochester. Norm died in 2021.
We talked with our Bloomington friends after Pam’s death and Rich asked if I wanted the artwork I did for his 1973 book, “Trailer Tales.” I painted a fictional illustration of the trailer we lived in with Rich playing sax on the roof. And I see the electric meter is in there. Rich got around Bloomington by bicycle, as we all did in those days, but he was the only one with a typewriter in tow. While we were sitting around he was banging out pages. The title page in his book reads “This book was written for the china boys and anybody else who can live in a mobile home. Copyright 1973. Cover titles, painting, inspiration – Moan-On Studios/Paul Dodd.” We were all characters in the book but the facts were all changed. Mae Sachs character was based on Peggi, Paoli Todd was based on me. Here’s an excerpt:
“Rudy had spent a great deal of time trying to figure out MD. Dave Mahoney’s success on the saxophone and his final conclusion was that the old man was able to play his instrument, solely because he believed he could do it.
This idea was further reinforced when Rudy viewed a movie, “The Music Man” in which a con-artist band leader supplies the town’s children with instruments and uniforms and they are able (at the end of the film) to play despite NO lessons. They believed they were a marching band and they became one.
Therefore, Rudy believed the most important thing to make his band become a band was to treat everyone as if they were an accomplished musician and for everyone to treat the band as a working entity. ‘Think Band and The Band Will Zen You’ was Rudy’s motto.”
The photo above was taken by Peggi at Barb and Roc’s wedding in Indianapolis 1972. It is reproduced in Rich’s book with this caption: “Four of the Zen-Men at a table at La Hacienda Night Club. L. to R. Edgar LaChoy, Sam Filigree Rudy, and Paoli Todd. Photo taken in 1961 by nightclub photo-girl.” Rich was in the process of putting the Chinaboise together when Peggi and I left Bloomington. We had banged out a few versions “Self Conscience Pisser” in the back room of the trailer before leaving town. Rich recorded an instrumental version of the song with his next band, MX-80 Sound. When we talked he told us he had just received a big royalty check for streams of SCP from Russia! Check out MX-80’s “Self Conscious Pisser.”
After Pam died we talked to Kim. We talked to Brad. We talked to Rich and Andrea and we talked to Steve. Steve told us he looks at every day as gift.
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.
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.
We’ve been back almost three weeks now but we’re still wading through the notes, photos, books, gallery pamphlets and holy cards we brought back. This painting has stuck with me. It was in the collection of the Contemporary Art Museum in Sevilla. I immediately thought of the Richard Serra oil stick drawings/paintings and Malevech and Ellsworth Kelly but I didn’t recognize the name of the artist. I should have written it down so I could credit them but here it is.
The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Sevilla is a special place. After the conquest of Seville by Christians in the 13th century the Monasterio de Santa Maria de las Cuevas was built here. The chapel and crypts have been restored. Allegedly, Christopher Columbus spent some time in the monastery in preparation for his voyages. In the 15th century the archbishop of Seville, aided by the noble family of Medina, founded a Franciscan monastery at the site. In the early 19th century, the monastery was sacked and used as barracks during the Napoleonic invasion. In 1840 a Liverpool merchant bought the abandoned monastery and transformed it into a factory of ceramic tiles. Several towering ovens were built around the monastery and still stand. The factory closed in 1982. The site was restored for Seville Expo’92 and in 1997 it became the spectacular setting for a museum of contemporary art.
The building Rochester Contemporary (RoCo) is in used to be a women’s clothing store.
There is a neighborhood behind the Reina Sofia in Madrid called Lavapiés, a Jewish ghetto some 500 years ago, where small but hip galleries having been popping up for a few years. We usually make a point of visiting them and on the way there we came across this shop. I knew I had photographed it before (ten years ago) but I took another picture anyway. I love the lettering in their logo. You don’t see this typography very often and you never run across it in the US.
I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. It was only four letters, a sign in Barcelona that read “SEBA.” I sketched the four letters in my notebook and back home I drew what I imagined would be the dozen letters in the word, REFRIGERATOR. We’ve come across other examples of this font, always as a logo and always in Spain, and I have six or seven examples in a folder of jpegs.
I always wondered how long graffiti lasted. The three big tags on the orange panels are still here. And I thought it was Interesting that the Kodak logo made a comeback is in the newer shot.