Searching For The Ineffable

Joy Adams drawings in Makers Mentors show at Rochester Contemporary
Joy Adams drawings in Makers Mentors show at Rochester Contemporary

Joy Adams did these two drawings from memory. They are a tribute to Ducky, a goat she owned for years but had to get rid of. She called him a soulmate and says “in a former life he might have been my husband.” The drawings are featured in Rochester Contemporary’s Makers & Mentors 2020 exhibition and Joy gave an artist’s talk this afternoon along with one of her former students, Lin Price.

Born in England just after the World War her memories of the English countryside reshape what she sees from the window of her barn/studio/home in Ithaca. “There is nothing unique about lavishly prickly weeds or trees dozing off in my backyard, unless I manage to bring something new to how I see them. The challenge is to avoid the predictable because predictability is about as welcome as a cold cuppa tea.”

She told the crowd she tries to tell the truth by moving beyond looking to seeing. Mostly through direct observation. She says the soul that drawings have is the difference between looking and seeing

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Continuous Use

Our Lady of Bouckaert Street
Our Lady of Bouckaert Street

We walked over to Home Depot to get a new toilet seat. You know how you look at something many times a day and then one day you see it. You notice how discolored it had become. We got one that drops in slow motion. Both the seat and the cover. We paid a few extra dollars for that feature.

While we were there we wandered over to the lighting department. One of the four foot fluorescents in our garage started smoking the last time i was out there an I wanted to see what kind of shop lights they had on the market now. I bought the old fluorescents out at Hechinger’s back in the seventies and put them on a timer over some pot plants in our basement. I was surprised how easy it was to grow and wound up with a pretty good stash but I got too paranoid and put the lights out in the garage. Home Depot had a four foot, bright as hell, LED light for 25 bucks. Lasts up to thirty five years of continuous use. I brought that home too.

"Hula" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 03.20.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Hula” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 03.20.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.
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X Ray Specs

Brick wall at Trata in Culver Road Armory
Brick wall at Trata in Culver Road Armory

The technician took Peggi back for more X Rays while I sat in the office with her purse. Her left wrist has been in a cast for a week now and she still had not seen the Orthopaedic Surgeon. She mentioned that her right wrist was also sore so they X-rayed that as well. I could hear the doctor in the next room talking to another person about the coronavirus. “It is gonna get out. It is impossible to control. But 30,000,000 million Americans have had the flu. 10,000 have died of the flu. I had a flu shot and I had the flu last week.” It was a little disconcerting.

Peggi came back and then the doctor came in with some good news. He determined her left wrist would not need surgery and he expected it to heal up fine in another five weeks. He told her she had chipped a piece off the bone in her right wrist and that it too would heal in time. Peggi then got right down to business. “Can I play my saxophone?” He recommended she take it easy for a few weeks. Margaret Explosion is back at the Little for a month of Wednesdays in March.


Mes Que Un Club

Winter Aconite just poking out of the ground on February 23, 2020
Winter Aconite just poking out of the ground on February 23, 2020

That’s Catalan for “More than a club.” And indeed FC Barcelona is more than a futbol club. It is Lionel Messi! We watched him score four goals against Eibar this weekend. And then watched Real Madrid lose to Levante 0-1.

We love both these teams and will be hard pressed to root for one over the other in the upcoming “El Clasico.. “Because Barcelona just regained the top position in La Liga, dethroning Madrid, we will probably start out cheering loudest for Los Blancos, the underdogs. Since Renaldo left they are only a club.

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Last Ski

Long concrete block barn and silo near village of Scottsville
Long concrete block barn and silo near village of Scottsville

Last Sunday we met our friends, Jeff and MaryKaye, out at their house on the river. We went skiing along a trail maintained by the Genesee Land Trust near the old canal bed. There were just enough obstacles to make it a real adventure. And there was the added drama of not knowing whether the trail would would end somewhere near where we started. It was great but that was our last ski this year. I’ll explain.

This winter is crapping out so the snow melts in the day and then freezes at night. Our road, which was supposedly “dedicated” by the town couple of years ago, gets plowed but they don’t drop salt on it. And we see the plow a lot less often than most neighborhoods. The frozen ruts from the car tires make the road treacherous on foot. That’s where Yaktrax come in, those wound metal coil things that you strap over your shoes. They work great.

But once we get off our street the roads are spotless. On Wednesday I didn’t even wear mine but Peggi did. When we got out on the clear road I thought to suggest Peggi take hers off. I should have done more that thought because one of her Yaktrax rode up on her show and the Yaktrax on the other shoe caught that one. Peggi went down fast. I just put away our ski boots for the season. Peggi has a cast on her broken wrist.


Making Magic

Stephen Black working on Margaret Explosion "Disappear" video.
Stephen Black working on Margaret Explosion “Disappear” video.

Yes. The monitor is blown out. Steve would have gathered more info if he had taken this shot himself. He is shown here working on one of the two videos he created while in town. Check out the hat! It was cold here but perfect weather for shooting Margaret Explosion videos.

Steve’s iPhone footage used in “Disappear”, the video shown below, was all shot within a mile or so of our house. All locations we have walked by countless times. But we hardly recognized them. We kept asking “where was that.?” Steve couldn’t answer because he is not from here. We didn’t even recognize our own headlight.

Steve thinks cinematically. I square things off and go head on. Steve operates in another dimension and goes way beyond the point blank. He moves the camera and animates a scene like a musical passage. Steve explains his approach: “The video is one with the music. I am playing with you, just later, and with the luxury of time to make and remake decisions.”

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Geek Squad

View from hallway in front of Nancy Valle's Studio in the Anderson Arts Building, Rochester, New York
View from hallway in front of Nancy Valle’s Studio in the Anderson Arts Building, Rochester, New York

Nancy Valle contacted me to let me know the digital slideshow I put in the Sounds & Sights show had stopped running. She was out of town for a week and someone unplugged the computer after the Thursday night figure drawing class. We stopped up there to address that problem and I took this shot.

We spent a good part of the week helping friends with a variety of computer problems. Jeff’s MacBook Pro was dropped. The track pad is cracked and unusable but he has his whole iTunes library on the laptop. We spent some time learning how to navigate sans mouse but couldn’t figure out how you click on stuff without one. Return/Enter didn’t do it. We suggested he take it in.

Steve Black, our house guest, has an iPad that is completely full of photos and movies, so full he can’t do anything with it. We air dropped a bunch of his movies to one of our computers and put them on a flash drive.

Duane in Brooklyn had HomePod reception issues that we tried to help him with. But we left him hanging with the mysterious events that keep showing up in his Calendar app.

The toughest problem was our neighbors’. Sue had reduced a couple of overstuffed filing cabinets in her basement to digitized folders of scans, iPhone photos and text files which she tucked away in Apple’s Notes application. At some point the 3,884 folders of notes, which are sorted by title by default, went out of order. They went random on the phone but they were still in order on her iMac. They were in order on the cloud as well but there was no why to get them organized on the phone. We called Apple Support for this one and they couldn’t help. They suggested we fill out a request at

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Black Vortex

I looked down at our land line expecting another scam call but found a familiar name instead. Steve Black was in town unexpectedly after being invited to a symposium at MIT on augmented reality where he met someone from RIT and then rode to town with him. He called us from RoCo where he successfully talked the attendant into giving him our Home phone number. And when we arrived he reminded us that many years ago he got off a bus downtown and called information for our number. The operator said, “Oh, I know Paul Dodd.” It was Betsy Nosco who I went to high school with.

The next day, a gorgeous winter day, Steve got right to work shooting scenes for a video for a Margaret Explosion song, “Tonic Party.” The footage, every bit of it from from near our home, astounded us. We should be way overly familiar with this location but we couldn’t tell exactly where it came from. The eye of a master.

We first met Steve when he was going to RIT. He asked Personal Effects if he could do a video to “Don’t Wake Me,” a song on our first ep. He printed out each frame of the film he shot, hand-colored the frames and then reshot the still images for the video. See “Don’t Wake Me.”

Back in 2003 when our “1969” cd came out Steve made a magical video in the back yard of our Hall Street house. See “Assembly Line.”

And his video for “Trophy Bowler”vaulted Pete LaBonne to YouTube sensation status. See “Trophy Bowler.”

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Old School

Cuba Cheese truck delivering the goods to Aman's on East Ridge Road
Cuba Cheese truck delivering the goods to Aman’s on East Ridge Road

Cuba Cheese makes some kick ass extra sharp cheddar. Imagine a slice of that with a Honey Crisp apple. Aman’s was our first stop today and then Wegman’s where we bought so much stuff it didn’t all fit in our back packs. Peggi had two packages of rice cakes sticking out of the top of her backpack. When we got home we discovered one was missing. Peggi went back with the car and spotted it next to the sidewalk on East Ridge Road. And our loaf of whole wheat bread sitting right beside it.

I feel like Kanye dumping on Taylor Swift when I say I was disappointed that Parasite won so many awards. We worked hard to see as many of the nominated movies as we could before the ceremony and the only one I fell asleep in was Parasite. It was right around when all the characters started getting killed off. I was liking the movie up until it became obvious that the sister was going to get a job in the rich people’s house too. And then of course, the father and mother. Best screenplay was certainly a stretch.

I liked “Pain and Glory,” “Once Upon A Time” and “The Irishman.” All old school.

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Young And Innocent

Paul, Ann and John standing on foundation of our new home on Hawley Drive in Webstaret, NY
Paul, Ann and John standing on foundation of our new home on Hawley Drive in Webster, NY

I came across this photo while looking for another file. It’s one of the old family slides that my sister, Amy, picked out to have scanned to share. My sister, Ann, brother John and I are standing on the foundation our new home in Webster so I know I would have been nine years old.

What struck me about the photo is the t-shirt I am wearing. It’s from Camp Stella Maris, the Diocese of Rochester’s summer camp on Conesius Lake, the camp where my cousin was sexually abused by Rev. Albert H. Cason, then a counselor. We were so young and innocent.

And we never imagined that if we told someone about the abuse, like the bishop himself, he would cover it up and let the guy go on to abuse others.


A Big One

Former Hallman Chevrolet building, now Spot Coffee, on East Avenue in Rochester, New York.
Former Hallman Chevrolet building, now Spot Coffee, on East Avenue in Rochester, New York.

It was a perfect night for gallery openings. A real Rochester winter night. A fair amount of fresh snow and cold enough to not be sloppy. Peggi and I both have pieces in a show at Studio 402 in Anderson Arts Building but we saved that stop for later. We started with Aaron Winters show at the pop-up gallery near the Little. He’s out every night shooting bands and he’s up first thing in the morning shooting birds but he showed neither of those here. These were large, gorgeous, Nat Geo-like photos from a safari he took toTanzania.

The RoCo opening, “Makers and Mentors,“ was great. All three artists were no-shows for the opening because of the weather and there was plenty of space to study the paintings. A real painting show and something we will return to in the next few weeks.

On the forth floor of the Anderson Arts building we found a something like an open jam going on in Studio 402. The show, “Sight & Sound: Art by Musicians – Music by Artists” was asking for it so I can’t complain. Peggi and I just pictured an event with this name a little differently.

We finished the evening listening to the glorious sounds of Nod at Skylark over on Union Street where we toasted to Peggi’s birthday. A big one.

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Knowledge Bump

Quonset hut house on Titus Avenue Rochester, New York
Quonset hut house on Titus Avenue Rochester, New York

The funky neighborhood south of Lake Bluff Road in Sea Breeze will surely come up in value some day. Maybe just after we leave, the way the triangle between East Main, Culver and Merchants came up just as we left it. Not that I’d want to live in a neighborhood that has arrived. I’m just noting that it is under appreciated today. And funky. There’s tiny houses with views of the lake, dead end streets surrounded by woods and an anything goes attitude to property management. 

We walk in This neighborhood often. Sometimes we work our way up to the lake on Birch Hill Drive which skirts the edge of the park above Tamarack Swamp. We’ve even found a way to connect the dead end of that street, where you overlook the lake, to the dead end of Lake Bluff. This is Tom Sawyer stuff. 

Yesterday we found a street we had never been down before. Trelawne Drive. It too dead ends at cluster of homes, some of which have a view of the lake. Finding a new street is like the best part of a dream, the part where a whole new scene unfolds and you think, “I’ve got to remember how I got here.” It’s like finding out there is a new album of unreleased Eric Dolphy recordings. I had just read that Thelonious Monk called the swollen protrusion on Dolphy’s forehead his “knowledge bump” so he has been on my mind.

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Are You Ready?

3 color silkscreen poster for New Math gig at R.I.T Grace Watson Hall on October 7, 1977
3 color silkscreen poster for New Math gig at R.I.T Grace Watson Hall on October 7, 1977

We were at the Bop Shop for a “With The Cows” performance and I spotted this crude poster on the wall behind the band. I had not seen it since I did it. I was taking a silk screen class with my father at B.O.C.E in Fairport. Loretta Murawski was the teacher. I sort of remember painting the words with a rubber cement-like substance, something that rinsed off once the screen was coated with a fixative. You can barely read it. If you weren’t ready for the new wave in ’77 you could could have caught New Math (a much later version of the band) at the Lovin’ Cup last Saturday.

Amy Rigby has really hit the big time now. She was interviewed by Terry Gross in connection with her fabulous memoir, Girl to City.”

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One hundred year old tree down in our neighbor's yard.
One hundred year old tree down in our neighbor’s yard.

If you count the rings on this beautiful red oak you get up near a hundred. And if you asked the people who had it taken down why they did it they would probably say they wanted more sun. They could have put the money toward a moving van.

We were looking for a day when the sidewalks were clear again to walk to the new Irondequoit Beer Company for lunch. We had their Shakespeare IPA and some roasted Brussels sprouts. The following day we both felt like we needed more coffee so we walked up to Starbucks and once there we pushed it, continuing on to Home Depot where we picked up masks like the ones they wear in China.

We celebrated 02.02.2020 by not walking anywhere. We met friends for brunch in Sodus. El Rincon was supposed to be open but they weren’t. The bistro in town was closed Sundays so we headed out to the Point and had some calamari and beer. We talked about movies and books and it hardly felt like winter.

Back home I made some guacamole and we headed over to my brother’s house for the Super Bowl. Luckily it was a good one. The hour long game takes four hours to unfold. Quite a contrast with the Real Madrid match we watched the day before where Los Blancos beat their cross-town rivals, Athletico. Two forty five minute halves separated by a fifteen minute ad break. The non-stop action was no longer than the total.

We were sorry to learn my brother and his lady friend were probably going to pull out of their upcoming trip to Vietnam Nan because of the virus.

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Rick and Monica's garage door in Winter
Rick and Monica’s garage door in Winter

Last night’s opening for Bea Nettles show, “Harvest of Memory,” was in fact a harvest of memories. Nettles taught art here at Nazareth College. She finished her masters at Visual Studies and went on to teach at RIT. She raised a family and continued to work. Old friends and students of hers were there. We didn’t know Nettles but some our old friends did and they were there.

Nettles uses alternative photographic processes and achieves organic results. She plays with mythology, family, motherhood, place, landscape, dreams, the passage of time and she makes art with it all. She gives a talk on her work on Saturday, February 1, at 1 p.m.

Jason Farago’s bad review of a photography show at the International Center of Photography in NY was fun to read. “The Case of Art vs. Instagram.” He calls out the Center for playing to the gate, a problem for all the art institutions.

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White On White

Small white table and chairs by the street in the snow
Small white table and chairs by the street in the snow

I had something else in mind for today. And I’m sure Peggi did too but the big trucks backing into our neighbor’s driveway while we were still reading the paper signaled a change of plans. Instead of working on my small wood panel paintings we would be collecting wood. The owners of the house across the street were taking down a huge oak, the one that snuggled up to their front door and towered over their house.

We dressed for the weather, mid twenties and just perfect for working outdoors, and Peggi walked down to Jared’s place to see borrow his pickup while I got the wheelbarrow out. She was ringing his doorbell when she noticed the truck was gone. We put a plastic tarp down in our CRV and loaded it it up, four times and then a fifth load for Jared who is still getting over his chemo treatments.

We had a mountain of wood to split and a fire in the fireplace before the sun set.

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The Year Of The Rat

Leo Dodd watercolor Brighton Baseball Sheehans Field 15"h x 22"w
Leo Dodd watercolor Brighton Baseball Sheehans Field 15″h x 22″w

My father would so proud to know that Historic Brighton, a group he was one of the founding members of, has an annual award that they present in his name, the “Leo Dodd Heritage Preservation Award.” This year it went to Mary Jo Lanphear, the Brighton historian and someone my father thought very highly of. When she was appointed town historian she went back to school to earn her masters in history. My father was a history buff. No degree the subject. When a photo didn’t exist he illustrated the source. There are no photos of the ball field that used to sit at 12 Corners so my father envisioned it (above). My father’s uncle, Paul Dodd, played baseball there for money.

We celebrated the Asian New Year last night at the home of my brother’s Vietnamese lady friend. One her son’s friends gave us this riddle. “A lawyer in New York has a brother in Jamaica but the brother in Jamaica doesn’t have a brother in New York. How can this be?” The women sitting around him were all stumped. I was too. Of course the brother in Jamaica had no brother because the lawyer In. New York is a woman.

Last year I was lucky. My red envelope had a 2 dollar bill in it. I was not so lucky at the start of the year of the rat. My envelope had a five dollar bill in it.

We recorded the Grammys and came home expecting to cut to the good stuff but our recording quit about an hour in. The show was still on so we switched to live tv and found we were not getting the station through our cable. All the other stations worked. How does something like that happen? We were happy to see Billie Eilish clean up. A breath of fresh air! And recorded in a home studio with her brother.

Turned out the cable outage was just a warning shot. We were out walking this afternoon when a tree, a tree on our property, came down out back. It took all three wires down, power, cable and phone and it stopped traffic in both directions for hours. I took my saw down there and we grabbed some firewood.

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1982 letter from Gary Lucas concerning our inquiry about purchasing Don Van Vliet artwork.
1982 letter from Gary Lucas concerning our inquiry about purchasing Don Van Vliet artwork.

Our friend Duane, tells us “Parapliers the Willow Dipped,” the first show of Don Van Vliet’s paintings in New York in over a decade, opens January 31st at the Michael Werner Gallery on 77th Street. We may not be there for the opening but we plan to see that show. Years ago (1982) someone told us Gary Lucas was the guy to talk to about purchasing a Beefheart painting so we wrote him a letter. Peggi had a radio show on WRUR at the time and we told him she played Beefheart. We thought the prices he quoted were too high. We were part owners of ten Warhol prints and they weren’t even near a grand a piece. Our reasoning was seriously flawed!

Stan the Man gave me a box of Beefheart stuff from Justin Sherrill, someone who was leaving town or something. These photos were in there, from an opening at Michael Werner in 1995.

I was lucky enough to see the Captain a few times, in Cincinnati in 1970 for the Trout Mask tour, Columbus in ’71 for Lick My Decals Off and here at Red Creek in ’77. I recorded that show on our little Sony mono tape recorder.

Captain Beefheart performing Low Yo Yo at Red Creek in Rochester, New York 1977.


Looking Very Strongly

Bridge over Horseshoe Road in Winter.
Bridge over Horseshoe Road in Winter.

We needed to get out early this morning as the sun and warm temperatures were ready to take a toll on the ski paths. We skied out to the lake and down Horseshoe Road, over the bridge (above) and then back up to Hoffman Road before our second cup of coffee. The only other person we saw out there was the guy that zips around like it is a matter of life and death. He doesn’t even look up as he passes.

I had Annie Wells’ version of Phil Marshall’s “Nothing Left To Lose” stuck in my head as we skied. And something Peggi said triggered Trump’s, “I’m looking at it very strongly” quote. That’s now become one of my go-to phrases. There are ski tracks going in every which direction on the golf course. We’ve had five days in row of near perfect conditions with very little new accumulation. It is time for Mother Nature to cleanse the pallet.

"Fe La" by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier - sax, Ken Frank - bass, Phil Marshall - guitar, Bob Martin - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums.
“Fe La” by Margaret Explosion. Recorded live at the Little Theatre Café on 11.20.19. Peggi Fournier – sax, Ken Frank – bass, Phil Marshall – guitar, Bob Martin – guitar, Paul Dodd – drums.

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Love Letter

Zanne Brunner and Nancy Valle have organized another “Sight & Sound” show (2012201320162020) in their studio. It will open the first Friday in February and I was planning to do some abstract watercolors based on a series of photos I have taken in Spain over the years. I spent quite a bit of time culling the photos and then sequencing them and eventually decided to enter the photos themselves. I’m calling it “Abstracting Spain.”

I have them running on an old iMac and will carry that up to their space for the show. I dressed up the grey brushed metal screen frame with some black duct tape. We saw Nancy last night and she was trying to talk me into showing them on their projector but I am concerned the studio won’t be dark enough at the opening.

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