Stewart Davis, no, not that Stuart Davis, turned 80 this year. His wife, the artist, Anne Havens, compiled a book of his recent paintings. A lawyer, Stewart started painting late in life but you would never know it. He was eternally young and where most artists strive to paint as directly as they did as a child Stewart had no baggage to shake or unlearn. He was innocent. His art was pure.
Stewart painted in his garage in Rochester. And when Anne and he began to winter in Florida he painted in their garage there. They never came back this summer and Stewart told us he was painting with a fan on. We bought this piece (above) at RoCo. It attracted my eye immediately and I couldn’t get it out of my head. We arranged to buy it on the way out.
Stewart and Anne were/are champion patrons of the arts. Rochester has suffered a huge loss with his passing. But Stewart will always be an inspiration.
Anne Havens, one of my favorite artists, is taking a break, not from life by any means, just from the struggle that accompanies any worthwhile art. At least that is what she says. But you cannot stop the wheels and her case the industrial sized gears from turning. We had brunch with her and her artist husband, Stewart Davis. (No, not Stuart Davis but it does sound the same.) Their home is filled with art, even one of Peggi’s pieces from a 6×6 show, but their studio is in the garage. Stewart has been busy with no boundary abstracts and figurative pieces. Anne is gearing up. I found this lovely pile of Stewart’s old socks that Anne had painted and stacked. I said I loved it and she said, “I need more socks.”
Anne Havens tackles big subjects like Milton’s Paradise Lost and Lot’s wife turning to salt. She does this in the most innocent way. Her touch is pure and her voice is distinctive so you recognize her work immediately even though her mediums span drawing, collage, sculpture, prints, video and fiddle. If you stop in her studio on First Friday be sure to sit on the white stool and look into the stars through her homemade telescope.
The hand written directions to Anne Havens’ cabin in the woods had been in our glove compartment for quite a while. I think Anne jotted them down over the summer when we ran into her at an art opening. They were straightforward and brief but the last detail, where to turn off the Italy Valley road and into the woods, didn’t make any sense. The “Blind Drive” sign that was supposed to be next to an inverted yellow triangle was not there. We drove until the road ended and then turned back to take a guess. We found a pink cottage nestled on a gorgeous marsh and sat down on the Adirondack chairs in the sun. It was so blue the moon and jet trails were the only white in the sky. Shotgun blast ran out from nearby and then echoed for miles around.
This is motorcycle weather, the last hurrah for these guys until April, and heard a bunch of them rumble by. We ate the apples and peanut butter sandwiches we packed at home and then tried to walk around the marsh. We came across a barbed wire fence and decided not to cross it. Everything is posted around here and you never know how serious people are about private property even though it just doesn’t seem possible to own a woods. The deer can run in there but we can’t.
We took a walk down a nearby dirt road but we only got a mile or so away when we were chased back by barking dogs. We’re thinking of heading into Naples tonight to have dinner at the Naples Hotel. I hope we can find our way back here in the dark.
As I noted here a few days back, we really enjoyed Anne Havens artist’s talk at the MAG. The slides of her work were beautiful. The presentation itself was a work of art. I did an artist talk there a few years back and I know how much pressure there is to add something interesting to the work that was created to speak for itself. You have to go deep to top your best efforts and Anne succeeded. Had I offered her the advice my buddy, Frank Paolo, gave me she would have had a perfect game.
Frank gives seminars on effective presentation techniques. I’ve seen him in action, knocking the socks off a large corporation’s top salesmen. Frank gets top dollar for a day’s work and any company would
realize a sizable ROI. When Frank heard I was doing this talk he invited me over for a few tips and I will never forget this one. “Skip the opening thank yous.” Frank says a crowd will never be more attentive then in the opening moments so don’t bring them down with obligatory thank yous to the stiffs in the front row. Launch right into your presentation.
We had our first painting class last night. It was full and two of the lost looking, new students asked me if I was the teacher. I said no and explained that the teacher will probably be late but it will be worth it. One of the older returning painters asked if I was still doing “those guys”. I said yeah and he asked if it was getting any easier. Of course I said no.
Fred Lipp spent most of his time with the new students. He has a habit of scaring off timid students and the classroom is guaranteed to be not as crowded next week. When he got to me he was as incisive as ever. He covered up the orange shirt on the guy pictured above and showed me my painting. Of course it much more effective without the distracting shirt. The point of the painting was all in the expression. “Always get to the point,” he said. I was stunned. So obvious.
Anne Havens is one of our favorite artists. We recently helped her with a few computer issues so she invited us over for dinner last night. She said we would know which apartment was hers by just by looking and we did. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by art and most of it is Anne’s.
We sat out on their deck while Stuart cooked trout on the grill. Peggi and I marveled at his nonchalant barbecue style and we knew the trout would be done to perfection. Anne made a real Ceasar’s Salad and roasted potatoes. We listened to Ornette Coleman and Duke Ellington and had a marvelous time. Anne proposed a toast to Ornette, our cat, and we got to talk about how special he was. The Ornette synchronicity has been non-stop around here. When David Greenbergger was here he had a Wire Magazine with Ornette on the cover and this morning Marc Weinstein emailed us a link to an Ornette Coleman clip from 1974 with James Ulmer Blood on guitar.
We offered to help Anne with an audio file that she plans to put in her concrete box sculpture, “Box of Sighs” which will be featured in the upcoming Rochester Finger Lakes show. Anne’s studio mate commented on how Anne sighs while she works so Anne recorded her sighs and put them in this box. She showed the piece at Studio 354 in 2008 but she wasn’t happy with the sound quality so we rerecorded the track today in our bathroom. The sighs were barely audible behind the closed doors and were so quiet that I had to really boost the input levels. As a result we wound up with a hum on the track. We traced that to the refrigerator on the other side of the bathroom wall so we unplugged it and got a perfect track. Anne was really in the zone. We were telling her that what we needed was a “whisper room” like they have out at Sutro Sound in San Francisco and she liked the sound of that.
We took a break from our web design work, put old clothes on and went out to work in the yard for an hour or so yesterday. We were expecting a few calls so we took our phone with us and set it down next to the brick walkway that we were relaying. Our 92 year old neighbor, Leo, stopped by to see what we were up to and and said, “If I set my phone down like that I would never see it again. I loose everything”. We laughed. We got a few calls and then came in to work. The phone rang again and we couldn’t find it. Still can’t.
Michael Greenberger came back into town to pick up his car. Remember, it broke down on the NYS Thruway near Henrietta as they were passing Rochester? He stayed at our place and we stayed up too late gabbing. He gave us a short stack of Duplex Planet magazines, a box of Ernest Brookings matches (in return for the Margo Explo matches we gave him) and a bunch of NRBQ releases. David did their artwork when they were a band and he does Terry Adam’s art now. We made plans to make plans to do a project together.
We took Anne Havens‘ computer apart to install more ram and now we’re updating her OS. Keep your fingers crossed that it reboots ok.
These are not Anne Havens’ colors but they could be. Peggi and I bought this piece years ago at a Pyramid Art Center show and I photographed it tonight in very low light. It hangs over our washing machine in the basement in the laundry slash band room. I love this piece and I was immediately attracted to it. Still am and don’t know why but that is the fun of it. I still don’t know who won the game of tic tac toe. It’s almost like I don’t want to know. It is too nicely drawn to look at what it depicts. And I love the beaker!
We were very fortunate to have Anne try out her “I’m moving to Florida routine” with us at the recent RoCo opening. It was delightful. She explained that she just gets so depressed in the dark winter months that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. She told us she only wears black here but wears white in Florida and she said it like she wasn’t ashamed to admit it. She told us she “is thinking of changing her name to Annie.”
We met Anne Havens at Gallery 354 this morning and had a private tour of her show,” Desultory. Peggi took a few movies of the work and I took some still shots on a tripod. The show looked beautiful in the morning light.
We went across the street to the Public Market for lunch and found a comfortable turquoise table in the sun at Juan and Maria’s Empanada Shop. Cumbia music was playing and we felt like we were vacation. I guess we were. Juan gave us a “Vistas Hermosas” calendar for 2009.
Anne Havens has a show of new work at #354 in the Hungerford Building on Main Street. We got to the opening at the tail end last night and I really wanted to see the show before getting bogged down in conversation so I walked briskly to the back room and studied “Grace” as it wiggled to the evening’s vibe. Anne is one of my favorite artists and this show is sensational, as in exciting for all the senses. There is movement, lights, reflections and sound in the work.
Back out in the main room I poured a glass of red wine and grabbed a fig while talking to Anne. I fumbled the fig and then dropped the wine on the floor. Anne gave me a rag to mop up the mess. Anne’s husband, Stuart Davis, tried to make me feel better by telling me how he gestured with his arm at another opening and knocked a sculpture on the floor. And then today I read how Steve Winn, the Los Vegas casino czar, was showing Picasso’s “The Dream” to a prospective buyer for $139 million when he accidentally slammed his elbow though the painting. So now I feel a little better.
We went to the RoCo Members Show last night. Each member gets to submit one piece and it always manages to be a good show and a fun event. Anne Havens submitted a beautiful artist’s book and read it. We found a quote there attributed to E.D. (Emily Dickinson) that read, “Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it”. Wow.
On the way over to RoCo we stopped at Book Smart Studio where two RIT students were showing their thesis work. I really loved Jessica Marquez’s “A Naturual History”. She took profile shots of her extended family and fine tuned them in Photoshop so the detail of the features remained in the silouetted images. She coated the balnk pages of old books with something that allowed her to print her photos on these pages. They look like something she found in an attic. They require close examination and are exquisite!
After the galleries we stopped by Bill and Geri’s to see their renovation project. We bought Molson Ice 40 ouncer for $3 at the Twelve Corners Quickstop and watched a Heart reunion in high def on VH1.