Concrete Abstracts

I quit my carpentry job the week before we got married in 1976. My boss, a hard working Italian immigrant named Salvatore Caramana, couldn’t believe I would quit before getting married. “What are you gonna do?” he kept asking me. I didn’t know but I knew I didn’t want to work that hard for the rest of my life.

After our honeymoon I got my first graphic arts job. I was hired by the City of Rochester Police Department under a one year grant and worked on the fourth floor of the Public Safety building with the detectives in what was called the Crime Analysis Unit.

The grant covered any classes that were related to my work so I signed up for a couple of photo classes at the UofR. Bill Jenkins, who was curator of modern photography at the Eastman, taught the classes. I loved it. I had been an art major before dropping out and these classes got me back on the academic train. I eventually cobbled together a Fine Arts degree from SUNY Empire State.

I kept an envelope of prints from those days and determined I could improve them by editing, in this case by trimming the 8×10 prints into these square pieces. Click here to view the images in a slideshow format.

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Mid-Century Moderna

Ice on Lake Ontario Eastman inlet
Ice on Lake Ontario Eastman inlet

I feel like the ground hog in Punxsutawney at the beginning of February wondering if it is really safe to come out now that we have had the second dose of the Moderna vaccine. We are one step closer to feeling comfortable hanging out with vaccinated friends inside sans mask, playing with the band, visiting NYC or even traveling to Europe.

A handmade sign at Aman’s read “Face Masks 25% Off.” We walked home with another $2.99 bushel of apples and will make more apple sauce in the next few days. Peggi and I each got red peppers. Didn’t realize that til we got to the cash register. I was in the cooler picking out some Guinness for the upcoming holiday.

As I mentioned earlier we couldn’t decide who to root for when Real Madrid met Atlético Madrid. It turned out to be really easy. Atlético was on fire in the first half and they scored an early goal. Two star players were back in the line up, the Belgian Yannick Carrasco (injury) and Englishman Kieran Trippier (gambling suspension). The second half got tighter. I think Atlético was tired. Carlos Casemiro, the Brazilian, set up the Frenchman, Karim Benzema in the final minutes and tied it for Real. Final score as it should be Madrid 1, Madrid 1.

The ice formations on the lake are starting to recede and will go pretty fast with the 60 degree weather. I will miss it. It was the best winter ever.

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Pay TV

Tall grasses in marsh on Hoffman Road
Tall grasses in marsh on Hoffman Road

We took a chance and cut up Horseshoe Road from the lake. We had a hunch that enough snow had melted (or evaporated) to allow us to walk across the golf course. In other seasons we take the trails in the woods that surround the rough. Today we followed the creek that runs down the middle of the fairways and and to my surprise we spotted a number of golf balls in it. I figured the water had to be warmer than the air (21 degrees) so I straddled the creek, rolled up my sleeves and stuck my arms in to pull six out of the mud. My wrists and hands were frozen. I left a few balls there for the next guy. I couldn’t even turn the key when we got back home.

Some friends of ours subscribe to the Criterion Channel and love it. It sounds so tempting. We have Netflix and a cable package that includes La Liga. Friends on the west coast have raved about “Painting With John” on HBO. And a friend on the east coast thinks we would like the dark comedy, Barry, on HBO and the mini-series “Olive Kitteridge” with Frances McDormand. So we added HBO to our arsenal. We’ve already binged our way through “Painting with John” and loved it. This really is the perfect pandemic show. It’s like zooming with a good friend and listening to his favorite stories, ones you know he has told a few times and some you have heard before. The music, his music, is great and I love his paintings!

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Bicentennial Cemetery

Leo Dodd watercolor "Birdwatchers" 15"h x 22"w
Leo Dodd watercolor “Birdwatchers” 15″h x 22″w

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.

Brighton Cemetery photo by Leo Dodd 2014 from his Flickr page
Brighton Cemetery photo by Leo Dodd 2014 from his Flickr page

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!

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Pyramid Scheme

Albert Robbins, John Kavanaugh and Tony Patracca in front of original Pyramid Gallery on Monroe Avenue in Rochester, New York. Circa 1978
Albert Robbins, John Kavanaugh and Tony Patracca in front of original Pyramid Gallery on Monroe Avenue in Rochester, New York. Circa 1978

The last time I saw Tony Patracca was the opening of “Witness” at Rochester Contemporary. I’ve been following him on instagram but in mid July he went dark. He just popped back up again posting a photo of him in a wheelchair, recovering from a really bad accident. Here’s to a speedy recovery!

Tony is shown here standing in front of the first Pyramid art gallery space, this wedge of a brick building on the corner of Monroe and Marshall, across the street form the former Glass Onion (and before that Duffy’s Backstage where Miles Davis played in 1969, his first gig with his new quintet, Davis, Shorter, Corea, Holland and Johnette.)

I worked just down the street from this place at Multigraphics, a commercial art studio. It was called Carey Studios when I started there. They were in a brick building on Gibbs street that was torn down when the Eastman Library went up. I watched this little gallery space open in the old liquor store and would stop in on my lunch hour. It eventually became the Paper Store and today it is home to chef/restauranteur, Mark Cupolo’s Rella. Tony was the first director of the Pyramid which became Rochester Contemporary and 40 years later he is still on the Advisory Board.

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Forecast Modern

Macy's Modern furniture ad from 02.08.50 issue of New York Times
Macy’s Modern furniture ad from 02.08.50 issue of New York Times

Maybe this is what old people do. Without a job you are left to fill your days as you please. And there are many rabbit holes out there. I recently posted a video of our old band performing “Heartbeat” at a concert at RIT in 1984 and the audio was a bit rough so I looked for a cassette recording the show. I had one but we had filled the cassette by the time we got to the second encore and Heartbeat was not on it. I found a cassette in that box from a show we did with Pylon at the Ritz but there wasn’t a date on it so I googled “Pylon Ritz NYC” and found a Stephen Holden review of the show from May 29, 1983. The review was not live text but a scan of the actual newspaper. I’m guessing we have access to this by subscribing to nyt.com.

It’s Peggi’s father’s birthday today so I looked up the front page of the paper for the day he was born. WW1 was still raging and there were no photographs in the paper at that time. The Committee for Democratic Control took out a half page ad that asks, “Do the People Want War?” It advances the notion that only Wall Street does.

I looked up Peggi’s birthdate next and found a Macy’s ad for Modern furniture. By the time of our birthdays the papers were full of photos and on my birthdate I found one of the Yankee’s manager, Casey Stengel, and catcher, Yogi Berra, arguing with the umpire in a game the Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox. And next to that photo a capsulized version of another New York team’s (the Giants) loss to the other Boston team (the Braves). Pitcher Warren Spahn, a favorite of mine when the team moved to Milwaukee, went nine innings and scored the game winning run after successfully bunting the tying run in.

Across from the sports page was a full page ad for Collier’s Magazine whose new issue featured an article about movie censorship. Westerns were being censured in some towns for too much violence, a comedy was banned because the star had divorced and a negro singing star’s scene was cut from a film because “there are plenty of good white singers.” A not so idyllic past.

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Insert Day Of The Week

Green candle in living room
Green candle in living room

Peggi made a cherry pie over the weekend with a can of cherries that was stamped “Best by March 2015.” That gave us pause but they smelled ok so we went with it. She also made another batch of applesauce with the bushel of 20 ounce apples we carried home from Aman’s. Because it is the end of the season they were only $2.99.

We walked up to the lake along Log Cabin Road. It seemed awfully quiet but we did see a few familiar faces, the really big guy who wears the Bills gear and the guy with the strange lawn. Strange in that it goes brown in the fall and only comes back when you think it never will, like the early days of Summer. It is always the same conversation with this guy. We say “hi, how ya doin'” and he says, “Can’t complain for a (insert day of the week.)” We always laugh at that after he has passed. What day can he complain on?

We’re looking forward to Derby Day on Sunday, not the Kentucky Derby but the day the two Madrid La Liga teams meet. Atlético, the number one team meets Real Madrid, the number two team. They are two of our three favorite teams and we can’t decide who to root for.

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Renewal Again

Utility graffiti on sidewalk with snow
Utility graffiti on sidewalk with snow

We can see the sidewalks again. We wore our regular walking shoes, not the ones with the Stable-Icers strapped to the bottoms, and we used something other than our X-country ski muscles.

I had a hunch the winter aconites would be poking their yellow flower buds out of the snow so we took a peek at the hill out back. They are! Robins, also a symbol of pleasure, joy, contentment, satisfaction, clarity, rejuvenation, bright future and happiness, were excitedly pecking at red berries that somehow hung to the trees all winter waiting for them to return.

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Drifting Away

4 driftwood and 1 firewood sculptures, a work in progress
4 driftwood and 1 firewood sculptures, a work in progress

It was a dreamy location for a Saturday morning yoga class. A woman who belonged to the Rochester Yacht Club arranged for Jeffery to teach a class there on the deck overlooking the mouth of the Genesee River. And it was open to the public. We were hanging around after class watching young kids learn how to sail when I found this little pocket along the shore of the river where driftwood was getting trapped. I picked up a handful of pieces and brought them home to dry out. I have mounted four of them on pieces of rough cut white pine and am experimenting with a color or stain for the base. If I can’t come up with something better than black, which works but appears a bit heavy, I will paint the other three that color.

The fifth one, shown in the middle above, is not driftwood. I carved it out of a piece of oak firewood. I spent most of a day in the garage with a chisel and hammer trying to create something as organic as a piece of found driftwood. It’s not easy. I found a piece of wood for the base of that one that I am happy with as is. I will report back on this project.

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31 Day X-Country Streak

Big snow roll in the Commons
Big snow roll in the Commons

Peggi once told me that winter is her favorite season. She was born in February and she suspected that might have something to do it. I love winter too especially when it is what hearty people call “a real winter,” long periods of below freezing temperatures with plenty of snow. I feel especially fortunate that we are able to share our enthusiasm for the season with each other.

I like shoveling snow and when they are calling for a significant amount I get out there a few times to reduce the load and just because it is fun. I shovel in my slippers when I grab the papers. We had a neighbor, last name “Painting” (which I thought was pretty cool), who would keep his driveway spotless in winter and we assumed he was obsessive. The neighbors surely think that of me now.

Winter naturally is a time to hunker down. We go out to ski in the woods and then come back to hunker (I assmue hunkering includes projects). Winter during a pandemic has been deep and rewarding. We miss going to to galleries but have found a bounty of beauty in the woods. The art pieces there are all three dimensional. Photos do not do them justice. The form of each tree is unique especially in decay.

This morning we found this big snow roll at the bottom of a hill near our ski path.

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More Fun

One end of Horseshoe Road in Rochester, New York
One end of Horseshoe Road in Rochester, New York

Horseshoe Road has two ends. I guess most roads do but in this case you wind up pretty much where you started. We ski parts of it most days as we work our way from our house to the lake and back. We try to alter the route each time and we’re still finding new routes.

Today we took our skis off and crossed Kings Highway to see if the groomer had possibly cut some trails on the other side. He had and we spent a couple hours over there only seeing one other skier. We stopped on the way back to watch the kids sledding down the big hill. Tiny little girls on round saucers squealing with delight as they slid in circles down the hill and boys running toward the crest of the hill and plopping themselves headfirst on their plastic sleds. They were having more fun than we were.

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Catastrophes

Leon Golub painting of Franco in Reina Sofia  exhibition space, Palacio de Velazquez, Retiro Park Madrid 2011
Leon Golub painting of Franco in Reina Sofia exhibition space, Palacio de Velazquez, Retiro Park Madrid 2011

We’ve seen some great art movies lately. “Painters Painting,” “What Remains” with Sally Mann, “Notes on Marie Menken,” but last night’s was my favorite, “Leon Golub’s : Late Works are the Catastrophes.”

Golub opens the movie explaining his process and then demonstrating it. “You can see what a slow boring process painting is compared to photography.” he says. Despite his rough and tumble, monumental paintings of atrocities, the Viet Nam war, El Salvador and Iraq, I knew he would be this lovable guy. Just look at this painting of Franco from Golub’s show at the Reina Sofia in Madrid in 2011.

I had seen his paintings over the years and pretty much dismissed them as so damn messy. But that show in Madrid knocked me out. Maybe it was the setting. Spain knows something about brutal rulers. They revere Goya’s depiction of some of them.

The movie follows Golub through many years and he is another painter who gets better and better right up til the end. He describes his work as sort of political., sort of metaphysical sort of smart ass and a little bit silly. His wife, the artist, Nancy Spero, appears throughout the movie. They shared a studio. After fifty years they grow old. Golub says he still wants his work to be “in your face” but it turns more joyous. “I feel like I don’t have to take on authoritarianism anymore. I’m enjoying letting go.”

The movie will cost you a couple of PayPal bucks on Vimeo. Don’t miss it.

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RJT

Ray Tierney in front of his first store 312 North Street in Rochester, New York 1906. The livery way which he later converted to rental space for a restaurant is shown to the right.
Ray Tierney in front of his first store 312 North Street in Rochester, New York 1906. The livery way which he later converted to rental space for a restaurant is shown to the right.

My grandfather, Raymond J. Tierney, was a dynamo. He grew up on Weld Street and by age twenty he owned this store, “Tierney’s Market,” on nearby North Street at Hudson. One of ten children, he became the breadwinner early on.

My father was filling a notebook with research into my grandfather’s stores. He had three, the last of which was on South Clinton where the India House is now. I have slowly been putting my father’s research on a “Tierney Market” page and I just added a a profile that was written about my grandfather in 1962. I particularly like this following section.

“Ray has tremendous confidence in the future of his country. The triple orbit in space a few weeks ago by John H. Glenn thrilled Ray just as did all Americans who followed the history-making flight on TV or read about it in their daily papers.

Like millions of other Americans, Ray is inclined to believe that Glenn’s flight was the first in history. The Russians claim they sent a man in orbit months ago but there has been no proof. Glenn’s flight was mađe with the world looking on; the Russian flight, if there was one, was made in deep secrecy followed by a massive propaganda drive.”

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Tidy-Up

First 4D CD 1995
First 4D CD 1995

Are CDs recyclable? I’m putting a few hundred of them in our recycling bin tonight in the hopes that they are. I’ve already separated the paper from the plastic. This is the first cd Peggi and I wrote for our business, 4D Advertising. It is named after our nephew. The other nieces and nephews followed. I said we “wrote” but we didn’t have a cd writer at the time and they were not readily available. We hired Kevin Kondo to come up to our attic where we worked. He collected the files on an early removable hard drive and came back with a cd a few days later. We eventually bought our own writer and at some point removable hard drives to keep our backups on.

So what kind of clients were we working for back then? We were doing ads for A.R.T. They made all those rack mounted effects units. We did brochures for AAA Fabrication and Bristol Boarding. Both those jobs required photographing their products and facilities. The King All Stars was an album recorded in Rochester with the reunited James Brown band. I still have a Polaroid of Bootsy from those sessions.

We did a series of public transportation ads for LDA and ads for Light Impressions, the photography and framing company. NAM must have been the National Association of Music Merchants. Our friend, Bob, went to that every year with Whirlwind, the guitar cord company. Pelican Management booked working bands in all the local clubs. Plymouth photo was an old school passport/headshot photo studio downtown. The Refrigerator we did for kicks. Rohrbach Brewing, Rochester’s first micro brewery, was doing business out of the basement in the German House. We did introductory post cards and ads for WJZR when they first went on the air. I had put all this stuff out of my mind years ago.

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Wonder

Paul on beach with ice formations. Photo by Peggi Fournier.
Paul on beach with ice formations. Photo by Peggi Fournier.

I don’t usually plan these these posts until I sit down but the lake was so dramatic this morning I knew I would use a photo of the beach. And if a person was in that photo it surely would have been Peggi, my valentine. But I didn’t take a photo of Peggi this morning, she took this one of me and it captures the wonder.

We skied through the woods, across the golf course (where there were so many people out it looked like a ski resort) and then out onto Eastman Lake. We spotted ski tracks out there and followed them, past a dozen or so ice fishing holes, all the way up to the big lake, the Great Lake, Ontario.

I am out on the big lake here, skiing between the two sand bars closest to shore. This was the twenty-fourth day in a row skiing. We are counting! The days are getting longer. It is 5:30 EST as I type this and it is still light out. I am already missing winter.

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Lake Effect

Peggi on ski path around Eastman Lake
Peggi on ski path around Eastman Lake

Atlético is due to meet Chelsea in an upcoming Champions League contest and six of their players have tested positive. On top of that, Spain is restricting entry to citizens from the UK so they are planning to host the match in Budapest. Atlético, who sits rather comfortably atop La Liga, meets Granada on Saturday in their next league contest. The “colchoneros” (mattress makers) have a fairly deep bench so we are not that worried about this one but they will need their best lineup to meet Chelsea.

Luis Suárez was out earlier in the season having tested positive after partying with his national team, Uruguay. The team managed without him. He returned in top form and is leading the league, just behind Messi, in goals scored. But now starters, and some of our favorite Atlético players, the Frenchman, Lemar, the Belgian Carrasco, the Mexican Herrera, and the Portuguese sensation, João Félix are all out with what is rumored to be the British strain of COVID-19.

João spent some time on the bench while recovering from an injury and we kept yelling at him to pull his mask up but it didn’t do any good. Luckily we have two other favorite teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona, the second and third place teams in the the 20 team league. We record the games in Spanish and watch them at dinner time, sitting on the floor in front of the tv in order to see the players clearly. La Liga matches, cross country skiing (we’ve skied twenty days in a row) and the vaccine are going to get us through this pandemic.

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Dreamscape

Lake Ontario shoreline with ice mounds in February
Lake Ontario shoreline with ice mounds in February

We skied along the lake and on the lake this morning. We traveled east to west between the small mound in the center of this photo and the line of bigger mounds nearer the open water. I’m guessing the ice mounds form where the sand bars are and if this winter continues, we’ll soon have bigger mounds on the next sand bar. Tomorrow will make twenty days in a row of perfect conditions.

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Skins On?

Hill on golf course in the snow
Hill on golf course in the snow

Barcelona was tied 1-1 with Real Betis at the half when the phone rang. It was our friend, Danita, and her clinic had extra doses of the Moderna vaccine. She signed us up for Monday afternoon, a perfect birthday gift for Peggi’s birthday. We started calling friends, the ones in our age bracket anyway, to tell them about the extra doses. We interrupted the Super Bowl for most but found quite a few takers. And then we got back to our game. Like magic, Messi came off the bench and in dramatic fashion he put one in.

Since we had to get in the car to get our vaccine and because it was Peggi’s birthday we made a few other stops. Aman’s Farm Market first where we bought more apples, both eating and baking. 8 quart baskets of 20 ouncers are $3.99 and they are perfect for applesauce. The woman behind the counter asked if we kept our skins on or took them off. Second stop was the new bodega on Park Avenue where we picked up a few sandwiches and cappachino, Peggi got a mushroom, gouda and and egg sandwich. I had smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel. I picked my monitor and prize money at RoCo where my slideshow won an award in the Members Show. And finally out to Trillium Heath for the needle. The waiting room was filled with our friends. A super spreader event.

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Heartbeat

Bob Martin gave us a key to his master vault of Personal Effects videos. This one was labeled RIT 10.06.84, a gig we did not remember. The song is a cover of Taana Gardners’s, “Heartbeat” and the video must have been done by Russ Lunn, a student there at the time. I’m posting it today because it is Peggi’s birthday.

The video shows we did two encores there and this was the second song of the second one. Two covers, “What Goes On” and “Heartbeat.” Heartbeat reminds me of all the parties and clubs where we danced back in the day. And I love the way Peggi does it.

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Practicing For Post Pandemic

Clouds over our ski path this morning
Clouds over our ski path this morning

Can you imagine rolling over and sleeping in the snow? We found evidence of deer sleeping in our yard last night, spots where the snow had been melted to the ground. We were out early this morning, skiing up to the lake and back before our second cup of coffee. It was above freezing but the ski conditions were excellent. And the sky was a wonder. Peggi made a movie. Imagine these white and dark clouds moving left to right (or from the west to the east) at a pretty good clip, our typical weather pattern.

We are practicing for post-pandemic days by entertaining guests around our front yard fire pit. We had Kathy over last night. She showed us pictures of bald eagles in the trees near her home overlooking the bay. Pete and Gloria stopped by tonight. They have already received round one of the vaccine so we felt sort of safe. I showed them my driftwood sculptures. And Pete, whose company, Monacelli Construction, did work at least half of the city, recapped the personal connections he had to the people and places in my grandfather’s world.

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