When Jim Mott was staying with us last Spring he mentioned that his wife, Sonja, had just released a new book about growing up in Rochester, New York. I ordered it from Amazon while we stood there. Jim said we could meet Sonja the next week at an art opening at the Oxford Gallery where he had would be showing some paintings. We went to the opening but we had the wrong night so we never connected.
Leighton Avenue, Bowman Street, Grand Avenue, Lamont Place and two locations on East Main near Culver. I know every one of the streets that Sonja Livingston mentions in “Ghostbread”. My parents lived upstairs in an apartment on Alexander and Main when I was born. We were right around the corner from Corpus Christi where Sonja spends so much time. I was baptized there. My family moved east of Culver to Brookfield and we lived there for ten years, right across from the Kirby Vacuum Center that Sonja talks about in her opening pages. Later, Peggi and I lived across from East High for twenty six years. We were only a few blocks away from most of what happens in this gorgeous memoir but we were a world away as well. Like Sonja I played Mass with my siblings but my six siblings all had the same father and he lived with us and provided for and nurtured us. The extreme differences in her circumstances in such close proximity is only part of what makes this book so engrossing.
Sonja’s chapters are short, sometimes only a page but they are so efficiently packed and carefully crafted they knock me out. Some nights I found I could read only a few chapters before wanting to set the book down, close my eyes and savor the exquisite setting. I suggested my mom bring this book to the next meeting of her book club.
Beth Brown, Russ Lunn, Heather Erwin and Jim Mott have rented space in the Anderson Alley building, space that was a shoe factory when Rochester had many. My grandparents worked in shoe factories here. In fact, my aunt gave my father this tiny pink shoe made of leather, a sample from the shoe factory their father had worked in. I was called a “Superba”.
One of the only things I accomplished this summer (4D work doesn’t count) was organizing the garage. There were some tools out there and that were almost impossible to get at. I threw away a bunch of old paintings and one of them was the shoe painting above. I did it while I was in school and I had forgotten all about it. I found a big roll of white paper in the garage, something my father had given me when he used visit the Kodak surplus building before coming home from work. I also attempted to deal with the piles of stuff in our office and I did decided to throw away the light table we haven’t used in about twelve years.
I photographed the tiny shoe on my brother’s picnic table and did a few drawings from the photo and then a few small watercolors of it. I brought the scale up to oversize and it looked less like a woman’s shoe and almost like it could fit a nineteenth century dandy. I simplified the drawing and created a pattern that I put on the light table and then unrolled the white paper over the pattern as I painted one shoe after another.
It will be in the show when it opens on Friday, November 5th.
We missed all sorts of cool stuff this weekend. Nod played at a house party on Plymouth Avenue and Jim Mott had a an opening at the Oxford Gallery. We spent most of our free time restoring my dad’s brand new computer.
Peggi decided to to try one of Tom’s yoga classes at the Downtown Fitness Club. Tom used to be in her class there when Jeffery taught there. Peggi walked in a little late (runs in the family) and some familiar music was playing. Peggi said, “That’s our our music” and Tom said “What do you mean?” “That’s our band,” she said. Tom explained that his friend, Paul, made the compilation cd for him.
Here’s Margaret Explosion – Floating At The Bug Jar.
There was an article in the paper last week about the Rochester Public Market ranking as the best public market in the country and sure enough the place was packed on Saturday. We couldn’t park where we normally do. Barry Kucker was out of his world famous sandwiches. The Mexican place was packed. My parents were there. We went with Rick and Monica and all bought as much fresh produce as we could carry. Back home we combined forces for a harvest bounty feast. Monica made a delicious peach pie.
Jim Mott stopped by and dropped off the painting he did for us when he stayed here on his local Itinerant Artist tour. He did five or six and we picked this one. We played some horseshoes before he left and Jim tried throwing with his left and right hands because he is somewhat ambidextrous. He paints left handed but his right hand threw better.
Painter Jim Mott has updated his blog with posts on the last two stops of the local edition of his “Itinerant Artist” project. We feel very lucky that North Irondequoit was one of those stops. I was happy to read that Peggi’s tapioca made an impression on him. Jim plans to have a show of these local paintings when the tour is over.
Margaret Explosion plays another art opening tonight. This one at the NTID Dyer Arts Center at RIT is for the Arena Art Group and it’s open the the public so stop out. We’ve played here before and like the sound of this room. Here’s a song from the Edith Small opening from a few years back. Phil Marshall plays guitar.
I guess I sort of have a crush on Roberta Smith. I loved watching her interview and charm Philip Guston in the 1980 dvd that we have. She was one of the few art critics who responded favorably to Philip Guston’s 1970 Marlborough Show. She had an especially enjoyable article in Sunday’s paper on the anonymous buyer of the Picasso painting. “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” sold for a record 106.5 million. The article dove tailed perfectly with a discussion Peggi and I were having with Fred Lipp after painting class. Fred was expressing his disgust the art market, the people who have enough money to buy art and the way art in general is influenced by the market.
We watched “It Might Get Loud” on our iPod with the NetFlix app. Took the sound out to the stereo and it did get loud especially when Jimmy Page blew the other two away with a classic Led Zep riff. Jack White made a point to say how he needed a struggle to get a good performance. He used the example of the cheap guitars he favors that that don’t quite stay in tune and it made for a stark contrast with the shots of Jimmy Page’s mansion. Jim Mott said pretty much the same thing when he said he surrounds himself with struggles. His camera won’t focus, for example.
Jim left yesterday for Francis Ford Copola Winery where he’s doing a week long artist in residency. He plans to come back here to finish his Itinerant Artist stop. Hid paintings are small, oils on panel. I watched him stand with the board and pallet in his hand while painting a view from our bedroom window. He sat in the yard in one of our blue chairs while painting the other three (above-click picture for enlargement).
Last night Peggi and I played a beautiful art-like board game that Jim invented. He took notes on our performance. He has a few copyright questions to resolve before going to market. I recommended he contact Rich Stim.
Margaret Explosion plays tonight at the Little Theater. This is “Frank DeB” dedicated to you know who.
We took a walk with Jim Mott who is staying at our house as part of his “Itinerant Artist in Metropolitan Rochester Series”. Jim’s attention was focused on the Warblers who pass through this area when the trees start to fill out. That explosion of green brings the bugs that the Warblers feed on. When Peggi spotted this baby deer near a tree, trying to stand for what looked like the first time, Jim had his field glasses trained on a distant bird. He told us he was more distracted than ever while painting in our front yard this morning because of all the bird activity. He saw or heard ten different kinds of Warblers along with an Oriole and an Indigo Bunting.
Jim painted a beautiful picture of the chairs in the front of our house. It is gorgeous and I think he knows it. It has been a pleasure to meet Jim and hang out with him. I heard a lecture he gave at the MAG a few years ago and Peggi and I went out to his show at MCC last year but we really didn’t know him. Funny how that changes when someone moves in for a few days. He told us he was a fan the Refrigerator when it was a print publication and he had heard Peggi and I backing Pete LaBonne at the old Jazzberries many years ago. And he reminded me that I wrote something he liked about his lecture. I had forgotten how charming it was to see and hear him talk about one subject while showing ppt slides that had no relation to what he was talking about.
The deal that we took Jim up on is this. We put him up for a few days. He paints, hangs out. We pick two paintings that we like from the batch that he does while here and from those two Jim will select the one for us. This whole experience would be worth it without the painting.Jim has traveled the country doing this and was featured on the Today Show a few years back.
Peggi and I started rebuilding a stone wall in our back yard yesterday. It been mostly swallowed up by the hillside. It rained while we were out there but we worked right through it. Brian Williams stopped by and we still kept working. He watched while the conversation turned to taking care of aging parents. There was a harmony to it all.
John Gilmore showed up as Brian was leaving. He had his “Gonzo” t-shirt on. I made a salad and Peggi reheated some beans and greens from the night before. Rick Simpson from across the street popped in. His wife, Monica, was at at a museum conference all week so this gave Rick the opportunity to eat meat. He brought over roasted chicken and pork leftovers from “Su Casa” and we overate before heading out.
We planned to see some art before the movies and were on our way to Jim Mott’s show when Peggi realized she had forgotten the “All Access” movie passes. Back home Peggi got behind the wheel of John Gilmore’s car and we did a repeat trip downtown. There was a beautiful show at RoCo of Alison Saar’s work. Gallery director, Bleu Cease, pointed out the new white on white version of the RoCo logo that we designed for them a few years back.
The movies at the Dryden were running late and we got involved in an absurd crowd control scene before “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”. The editor of the film was there to introduce it so we were tuned into her efforts. She did a sensational job with this meaty, two hour documentary and it flew by. It was a million times better than the Johnny Depp film.
John struck up a conversation with the editor and she invited us to the “Filmmakers After Dark” party at Java’s. They were showing “On The Waterfront” without the sound. We hung around with movie buff/chef, Gerry Brinkman, who owned the Rochester Club and now runs the restaurant on Wellsley Island. He pointed out how Brando could act with only his face.
Peggi started teaching a new round of Dreamweaver classes at the Genesee Center for the Arts last night. I rode downtown with her and then walked over to the Memorial Art Gallery for a lecture by local artist, Jim Mott. He travels the country trading paintings for hospitality and his “Itinerant Artist Project” was featured on the Today show. He talked over a PowerPoint presentation, sometimes talking about one thing while flashing paragraphs of type on the screen that had no relation to what he was talking about. But he had fun with it all and he seems like the the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. His photos and paintings are beautiful. They are small, like 6 by nine, so he can travel with them when they are wet in a plywood case with slots. His landscapes are relaxed and painterly but perfectly readable. There is a nice little slide show on his site.
I met Geri McCormick after the lecture and we went across the street to Village Gate to see Fay Victor and her band. They had just driven up from NYC and they were playing in the atrium outside the Bop Shop. They sounded great here, a little bit like the Art Ensemble with Fontella Bass. Avant and soulful at the same time.
We didn’t get out for a walk yesterday until the sun was setting. It had been a crystal clear day and the snow was shiny. We were supposed to get three inches on Friday and a then a couple, possibly more Lake Effect snow, on Saturday. Well we live by the lake and we didn’t get any. So we walked in the woods rather than skiing. We headed up into Spring Valley and saw some footprints. We are usually the only ones up here We smelled deer and then saw some. We smelled deer again but couldn’t see them because it was just about dark. A animal, bigger than a squirrel but not as big as a possum slithered up a tree in front of us. We headed down in the valley and the near full moon was casting stark shadows in the snow.
Back home we changed clothes and drove over to the George Eastman House for an opening of “Larry Towell: The World From My Front Porch”. I had never heard of him but I liked his photo of the three Amish guys in the paper. His photos are stunning. Whether Towell is framing Mennonites, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Katrina, destruction or rural Ontario, Canada his shots tell big, cinema graphic stories. It is tough enough taking in a show with the distractions of an opening but the show itself has included distractions like old magazines, posters, kids drawings and concrete blocks. And on top of that there were plaques with incidental information mounted near the photos and lit like they were the main attraction and electric red title type on the green and blue grey walls. Let me look at these beautiful photos for crying out loud. We plan to revisit this show.
At least we found the show. On Friday we went out to see Jim Mott’s painting show downtown. We got an email earlier in the day about the show at the Bausch & Lomb building. We were there at seven and we could not get in the building. Jim is a Rochester artist who moves his front porch around the country and paints what he sees. He trades paintings for hospitality and was featured on the Today show.