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.
This is such a simple idea. The old brick school building in Medina is crumbling and no longer used by the district. Over the weekend they gave the keys to the building to Resource:Art project and in partnership with Hallwalls in Buffalo and Rochester Contemporary they filled each room with an artist’s installation. Friday night’s opening party for “Playground” was sold out and Saturday and Sunday was open house. It is aptly named, a playground for artists and art lovers of all ages.
Bands were playing in the auditorium as we wandered from room to room, freestyle poetry in one room, skateboarders in the next, each a delight. Medina is a canal town and one artist drew an illustration on the chalkboard of the change in elevation as the canal crosses the state. Our favorite room was Kari Achatz’s cut paper and LED light installation. It reminded me of the blacklight room we used smoke pot in.
Jozef Bajus had artfully strung 35mm slides on lines of wire, a piece dedicated to memory. He had written a quote from Luis Buñuel on the chalkboard of his room.
“You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all . . . Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it we are nothing.”
All I could think about was my father. He would spend a good chunk of time on his annual Christmas card, sometimes barely getting it out before the holidays and it was always meaningful, relevant to the year and often poignant. He included an illustration, a poem-like message and maybe a quote from Chesterton. His last Christmas card, which was left on his hard drive when he died, referenced my mom’s vascular dementia. There was picture of us, their children and this unfinished poem.
“What if you couldn’t remember:
Yep!………Return to an event
Where some time was spent
When surrounded by people
Some of the people you bore
But the image you recognize no more
What if you couldn’t remember:”
We took Pete and Shelley up to see the Leo Dodd painting show at Geisel Gallery. It closes on Wednesday so, sadly, this will probably be our last visit. We spent some time studying the four that are in B&L’s permanent collection. They were painted in 1994 and 1995 when the building was being constructed. Jean Geisel bought them then and they will be returned to B&L’s Goodman Street plant when the show is over.
These paintings are very interesting to me because they were executed rather quickly, like big sketches. Parts of the paintings are what you might call “unfinished” but those sections work especially well to convey the construction and action going on. Not only that, the expressively drawn, mostly white areas are the real subject and the reason he was standing out in Washington Square Park. They are alive today and what more could you hope for from a painting left behind.
Men were working on the steeple of Saint Mary’s when we stopped by. The church, just across the street from the park, played a big part in our family history and my father would have loved seeing this. Our cousin, Ray Tierney, bought one of the Saint Mary’s paintings from this show. His wife liked the painting because of the political activity it depicted (protesters with Occupy signs) and Ray like it because, as he told me, he was an alter boy at Saint Mary’s. In fact he was paid to serve mass (I never was) because Saint Mary’s had no grade school and they needed boys to serve. He took the bus downtown from Saint Boniface’s and loved getting out of school to serve at funerals.
We are really excited about the Champion’s League final on Saturday. We have been follwing Real Madrid all year but have a soft spot from Liverpool and Salem so we’ll be happy whoever wins. I just hope it will be a good match. We walked up to Wegmans and came back with some corn, vegetables and fish to grill after the game.
It’s First Friday tonight and instead of gallery hopping I will be holding court in RoCo. I wish Leo could have been here for his opening but I know that was not meant to be. We drove by Rochester Contemporary yesterday and saw that their windows were all papered over. I came awake last night worried about one of my charcoal drawings. Am I obsessing or is that one not holding its own with the other twenty? I think the answer is “both.” I’d like to take it home, rework it and bring it back.
We stopped out at MCC for an opening last night. Monica Frisell was showing photos from her “Looking Forward: Portraits from an RV” series. If that name sounds familiar she is the daughter of a famous guitar player. And her mom, Carole d’Inverno, had a fabulous show at MCC’s Mercer Gallery a couple of years ago. This is a talented family.
We chatted with Monica and Carole at the show and then left for Ossia’s first performance of the year at Kilbourn Hall. On the way out we ran into Bill who was out walking Monica’s dog. Peggi asked if she could take a photo. We told him we were planning to send the photo to Bob Martin in Chicago and tell Bob that Phil didn’t work out and we had hired this guy.
I created a movie of my sources, some of them more than twenty years old. I used to hold the CrimeStopper page in hand, folded up to reveal just one of the mugshots, and work from that. I held the page with the thumb of my left hand, pressing it against my paint palette. At some point I started scanning the page and blowing up the small photos so I could print out the mugshots at a larger size. The photos didn’t get any better, just larger. For the past few years they have been putting the CrimeStopper page online so I download the pdf, crop the photos and print them out.
I don’t need all the CrimeStopper pages, I just paint and draw the same faces over and over, only refreshing the batch from time to time. I rounded up my collection of scans (blown up they have a golf ball sized dot pattern) and cropped photos from the pdf (no dot pattern but a rather limited resolution) and I put the jpegs into Keynote. I turned the images on their side and cropped them to the 16 by 9 wide format. RoCo will spin their wall mounted, large Sony monitor on its side and the movie I created from the slide show will go ’round and ’round in a dvd player mounted in the ceiling.
That monitor is mounted about four feet up, in the dark, on the inside of this round room (near the back of Rochester Contemporary). They painted the title wall near the entry and the round wall purple, the purple I got when I sampled my father’s Freddy Sue Bridge painting to do the postcard for Witness. Show opens this Friday 6-9pm.
We saved the big painting for last, the only full sheet watercolor in RoCo’s upcoming show of Leo Dodd paintings. The glass was spotless. We used a homemade concoction of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon of of vinegar, a recipe we found online. The painting, of the old stadium on Norton Street, was sandwiched between an off white matt board and acid-free foam core but every time we nestled it into the frame we managed to suck in some tiny little pieces of our rug or some other disturbing micro fibers. We finally got a clean version but only by taking it into the bathroom under bright lights and assembling it on the edge of the bathtub.
I was thinking about the Red Wing games we saw in that old stadium. Havana, Montreal and Toronto all had teams in the International League back then. The time the guy sitting behind us burned a hole in my brother’s sweater with his cigar.
RoCo selected a great batch of paintings for this show. They focused on his Rochester paintings. My father was attracted to the scale of construction projects so there is a batch from the O’Rorke Bridge construction, the Bausch & Lomb headquarters downtown, the Freddy Sue Bridge and the biggest project of them all, the reworking of the Can of Worms, a project that coincidentally started in 1988, the year my father retired.
He’d sit off to the side and sketch the activity. The newspaper did a piece on Leo at the time and I like this quote. “It was a dream come true,” Dodd said last week, probably the only person in Monroe County who would say that with a straight face when it comes to the Can.”
“But most people haven’t spent the past two and a half years sketching the construction of the new $123 million interstate interchange. Dodd, a retired Kodak engineer who has taught courses at Rochester Institute of Technology, has made hundreds of sketches of the Can reconstruction since work began in March of 1988. Dodd, who started sketching large‐scale construction projects four years ago, said the Can project was a blessing because it was just minutes from his home on Corwin Road. So while tens of thousands of people were dreading three years of detours, Dodd was delighted.”
I think he would be delighted with this show. It opens Friday, October 6.
I should have this memorized so I don’t have to read from my notes at my mom’s service tomorrow. But I don’t.
When you’re young there is no safer place than in your mother’s arms. You learn that when things get weird you can always return to your mom. I first met my mom in 1950. Everything was brand new for me but I had a sense that everything was brand new for her as well. There was an air of experimentation in our home and I watched this play out as our family grew. Teachers come and go but your mom is on a higher rung. You learn from your mom how to make your way in the world. When she had enough of our nonsense she would say, “Go out and play.” That was the best advice she ever gave me.
My mom was very aware. She had keen observational skills and a fashion sense that she shared with us all. I was the only one in my Confirmation class with a striped sport coat. A few years ago my father and I did an event at the Brighton Town Hall where we drew quick portraits of people. My mother surprised me by looking over my shoulder and making suggestions that were right on.
Mary was not shy about expressing how she felt about something even if it went against the popular grain. This was jarring to me at first but I grew to admire her for that streak. We argued plenty and she was a formidable opponent. In the process she taught me to think for myself and she gave me the confidence to leave home.
Mary was a devout Catholic but grew frustrated with the church and would say “I wish they would stop praying and do something.” To a college demonstrator my mom’s peace flag seemed like a benign protest. But when a neighbor demanded that she take it down because her son, my friend Tom, was fighting in Vietnam, I witnessed my mom hold her ground in a real world situation.
The nurturing caregiver relationship slowly flipped over time. Yet Mary faced her decline with determined dignity. And she shared with us the gift of spending time with her fellow members in the Friendly Home’s Memory Care center.
I had to tell my mother again that her mother had died. She asked me where her mother was. She cried again. My mother was always very direct and she would not want me to lie to her even though she is suffering from dementia. I showed her a few photos of her mother and she liked them but she wasn’t sure who the baby was in this one.
My father started taking Fred Lipp’s painting class with me in 1995. My father called it “therapy” and there were many rough exchanges. Neither one of them were direct and they didn’t know what each other was talking about for the longest time. My father who was immensely talented had some rules that lived by. Fred claimed he could break any rule he wanted. He trusted his eye and his eye, developed by trust, was immensely talented. It took a some time for their relationship to mature and I was privileged to watch the whole thing develop.
I photographed my father’s paintings every four or five years and put them on his website. When he died last year I brought a huge pile of them here and I’ve been working my way through them. It is a huge project but I’ll eventually have them all on line. Fred helped my father a lot. I can spot the before and afters butFred help everybody – if they were open to being helped. Surprisingly some people would take the class who did not want to budge. Fred claimed his students helped him more than he helped us but I didn’t buy it. On Fred’s death bed he told me, “You’re father is a trip.” We both laughed at this ultimate compliment.
Miss the smell of the cigars that our former neighbor used to smoke in their backyard on a humid summer night. And I miss seeing his wife through the back porch windows, working away on her writing.
My father misses the Bobolinks that travelled all the way from Argentina to find a girlfriend in the former meadows off Westfall Road in the town of Brighton. He gave talk on Sunday to 30 or so people at the restored Buckland House which sits on the former Edmunds property there, surrounded by “improvements” that the Town has made in recent years. Ball fields, parking lots, a lodge and a war memorial. And of course everything is handicapped accessible, something the birds could care less about.
Bobolinks like meadows and my father used to walk these fields and sketch the Bobolinks. He projected pages from his sketchbooks of drawings he made “en plein air” of the Bobolinks in these very fields. Development comes with a steep cost. And something as simple as a meadow is like heaven to birds and birdwatchers.
Even Spring can bring you down. The ramps are turning yellow and the Trilliums are fading fast. Life is too short. But it is only those left behind who complain. Plants go with hope for renewal. People are gone for good.
Some people give so much they leave a hole when they’re gone. It is up to us to fill it.
I met Alice in Fred Lipp’s Advanced Painting class where she would often be working on abstracted versions of Maine landscapes. She’s living in one of those landscapes now and when we visited our conversation often turned to art and Fred’s class. She told us that one of the things she misses is overhearing Fred’s advice to another painter, someone working in a different medium and manner on a different subject, advice that was applicable to her at that moment.
I had this experience last night as Fred was talking to my father. He was comparing the beautiful little watercolors in his sketchbook to the sheet my father was working on, one that got away from him. The sketches, which Fred was calling finished paintings, captured fleeting moments with expression and confidence. The big sheet had been carefully planned and worked up with the sketch as a reference and my father said he felt as though he was just coloring it in. This is one of Fred’s favorite topics and was my father setting him up for another “painting should be an adventure, not the execution of a plan” raps. It’s a topic that bears repeated revisiting. This time I heard Fred say that you want to see the questioning in the final piece. I love that concept and intend utilize it in my own work.
We sent this song (one recorded live at the Little Theatre) over to Saxon Recording on East Main where Dave Anderson applied his digital/analog mastering tools to the file. The cover graphic is a photo of a Robert Irwin piece in the Albright Knox collection. Stop out tonight and hear the questioning.
We were standing in my parents living room looking at their glass coffee table, the current centerpiece of their room. My mother had just announced that my brother was going to take it. I said, “Are you sure you don’t have room for it?” My father, who is really good at visualizing things, said “Our new living room is as big as the rug in this room. So if you move the furniture on to the rug you can see what we have room for.”
In ten days they will be in their new apartment and my father is working out the new floor plan in Google’s free SketchUp 3D drawing program. He has been able to find many of the pieces of furniture that they own in the Google 3D Library. He just plops the drawings that other users have contributed into his floor plan and sits my mom down in front of he computer while spins rotates the drawings in space.
We stopped by their new place this morning to take some final measurements and afterwards headed down to Nick’s for some lunch. We parked in the little park across from Sea Breeze Amusement Park next to the restored cobblestone smokehouse that was moved here a few years back from its original location near the Ridge Culver Fire Department. My parents new place is small but it is bigger than this smokehouse.
Nick came over and sat down with us. We told him a bit about Spain and how we found a place there that reminded us of his place. We talked about the food there and he said his mom used to make an Italian version of Tortilla Española. He got going on how she’d make homemade pasta on Sundays and “Eggs in Purgatory” where she would drop eggs into simmering sauce and pull them out when they were poached. He was nearly lost back in time when he said, “We thought that would last forever.” I told him the memories do.
While the bands that regularly play the Little Theater Café wait for the schedule for the rest of 2014 the new owner of the building that houses the café has announced that the café will stay open for the time being. This is good news. And the name Glenn Kellogg, an urban planner and the man behind the project, has chosen for his new grocery store (no it is not a Wholey’s) is also good news, the name of Rochester’s first supermarket, “Hart’s.”
I asked my parents what they remembered about Hart’s and I was surprised to hear it was all good to. I expected some sort of rivalry between Hart’s and Tierney’s, my grandfather’s store. My dug up this chart he had constructed years ago that plots the history of grocery stores in Rochester. My grandfather opened his first store with two of his brothers back in 1906 on Hudson Avenue so both the Hart’s and the Tierneys were here long before Wegmans.
My father maintains his website with iWeb. Apple stopped supporting the program years ago but it still does a great job with drag and drop html page construction. I help him with some sections and I just put a new batch of his paintings up. I was with him while he worked on quite a few of these but I never get tired of looking at them. They are so much fun. My current favorite is the one up top. I just love how dynamic the white is.
Cobbs Hill near the aptly titled Pinnacle Hill in Rochester, New York was named after Gideon Cobb, the quintessential pioneer and brick company proprietor in the Brighton neighborhood. Saturday was Gideon Cobb Day and about fifty people gathered in a lodge near Edmunds Woods for Leo Dodd’s presentation on the old-growth forest. The annual event was sponsored by Historic Brighton and a boxed lunch was included. The woods, an integral part of the old Edmunds farm, is now trapped between a suite of medical offices, parking lot, mosque, retention pond and expressway but it is a real gem with abundant wildlife.
The event started with a series of technical issues, first of which was helping my father find his glasses. They were in the side pocket of his car. My dad constructed the presentation in Keynote (Mac version of PowerPoint) and he transferred it to his iPad. The projector had a hard time recognizing the iPad so a restart was in order and then the wireless mic which my dad had charged up the night before wouldn’t work even though the red on light was lit. That turned out to be the “stand-by” position so that too was a relatively easy fix.
The first slide had an audio file on and I tried holding the iPad up to the speaker which only caused a screeching feedback loop. I was in charge of swiping the iPad to advance the slides while my father talked and I had a quite a time trying to anticipate when to swipe so he wouldn’t have to say, “next slide please” between each graphic. I jumped the gun a few times and had to go back and I clearly caught him off guard a few times as he looked back up at the screen and saw that I had already advanced the slide he was talking to. But the presentation was flawless on my dad’s part and thoroughly enjoyable. Afterwards he led a group out into the woods.
My father takes the Spring off from our painting class. He spends his spare time in the woods, bird-watching and photographing wildflowers. Yesterday we visited the Edmunds Woods in Brighton with my father as guide. This wasn’t a hike. We just walked in the woods and looked at ground near our feet. We saw Mayflower, Squirrel-corn, Bloodroot, Spring Beauty, Mayapples, Trout Lilies, Wild Leeks, Red Berried Elder Bush, White and Red Trillium, Cut-Leaved Toothwort, Fiddle Ferns, Wild Strawberries, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Blue Cohosh and False Solomon’s Seal. Really quite amazing that this was all out there.
What’s left of the woods is surrounded by the expressway, a mosque, the Brighton ballfields and a complex of medical buildings. “It is a unique climax forest composed of Sugar Maple and Beech trees.” I copied that last sentence from my dad’s website on Edmunds Woods.
My father entered his Washington Square Park painting in the art show at the Brighton Town Hall auditorium this weekend. My mom didn’t like the location or the height at which they hung his painting and she told the town officials so.
I particularly liked Andre Osores’s psychedelic fall painting, its leaves in your face, shallow depth of field, the lovely birch trees and especially the fact that someone road their bike to the woods to talk a “Fall Wall.”
Yesterday, I took a trip back in time with my father. He had asked for some help with a dig he was doing at the old farm property on Westfall Road which the town of Brighton has recently purchased. The town burnt the old farm house in a fire department exercise and then bulldozed the charred remains into the earth and then they stuck a sign in the ground that reads “Archeologic Dig”. My father pointed out that it was misspelled but I didn’t notice. He has uncovered an old well and a brick path that runs between it and the house. I tried to lift some big pieces of concrete out of the old well without falling in. My father is using Google SketchUp and old photos to reconstruct the property as was in the early 1800’s.
Instead of walking in the woods today we headed over to “Simply New York”, the new store on Culver Road up near the lake. We saw an albino squirrel on the way. Everything in the store is made in New York. I looked at a t-shirt that read “If you’re lucky enough to live in Sea Breeze, you’re lucky enough.” We bought a jig saw puzzle made in Buffalo, some pepper pasta made in Watertown and some shoes made in Batavia. I wore the shoes home in the rain and my feet stayed dry. I told the owner I was going to bring them back if my feet got wet. He gave us some Hedonist sesame chocolate (made in Rochester) for the walk home.
The mail lady had off, the kids on our street had off, the neighbor who works for the UofR had off so we decided to take Columbus Day off as well. We drove out to Schutt’s Apple Mill in Webster and picked up a few bushels of apples along with fresh squeezed cider and two fried cakes made with indigestible oils. Since we were out this way we stopped by the 1000 Acre Swamp in Penfield. My father goes birding here and he hunts the skunk cabbage here in early Spring. I’ve heard him talk about it but found it kind of hard to get excited about a place called 1000 Acre Swamp.
I wasn’t sure where it was so I looked it up online and found out it is only 500 acres. It is a beautiful place, an oasis in suburbia. One hour in here made re-entry a jarring experience. There should be a law against huge lawns. They’re obscene. The MacMansions are silly but the lawns are an assault to the senses, all of them.
PBS started its “God In America” series last night and the whole show took a quick nose dive after the arrival of Columbus. A few Native Americans started the show by saying. “Our whole world around us is our religion. Our way of life is our religion. The way we behave toward one another and others is our religion.” This wasn’t good enough for the Spaniards and the sad parade that followed. I don’t think I can handle Part Two.
We don’t set the alarm and often wake up with a phone call. This morning it was my cousin’s wife calling to say she found my parent’s garage door open while she walking her dog. My parents asked us to keep an eye on their place while the were out of town and this didn’t seem right. We suggested she call 911 and we headed over there. The cops were already there by the time we got there and sure enough someone had broken in. They (one or two guys) tried the neighbor’s place first and they stepped in some fresh turned earth near their window and then they tracked these prints across my parent’s driveway.
They used a bar to bust open the back door and smashed a window to unlatch the dead bolt but we couldn’t find the glass pieces. Suction cups? Took the glass with them? And the glass that the cops did find was from a car window. They thought maybe the thief (thieves) had stolen another car to get to my parent’s house and pieces fell off their clothes. They took a couple of Cokes out of the refrigerator and left them in my father’s computer room and one of them took a big, loose shit in their toilet and he didn’t flush it. They went through every cupboard and took what they could get rid of in a hurry. So there was an empty tv stand and a pile of cords behind the desk where the computer was and to my surprise the backup drives were still there so I hope to do a full restore when my dad gets his next computer. Oh, and they put all the stuff in my parent’s car and drove off with the loot. Green Honda Accord with a peace sign on it.