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.
My parents were here for dinner the other night and we got to talking soccer at the table. Spain had just been roundly beaten by the Netherlands and it was all we could think about. I called up a few replays of the scoring on my iPad and my dad asked, “What ever happened to Ralph Wager?” I played with Ralph in the summer soccer leagues in Webster and Charlotte and was hired as the soccer coach at RL Thomas in my senior year. He coached all my brothers as well and we all thought he was great. He was arrested two years ago on a first-degree child sex offense.
When my dad asked it hit me that I never would have gone to Indiana if it wasn’t for Ralph. And Peggi wouldn’t be sitting next to me. Ralph had played for IU and recommended the school as one of the best in the country for soccer. I was all-county in high school, had a few school records for goals when I left and was the first freshman to start for Indiana. The team was mostly foreigners at that time. I loved it but dropped out the next year. My father has been mining the Fulton History site, a giant database of scanned newspapers from New York State, and sent me this article on the Section Five championship game shown above.
WEBSTER HERALD November 15, 1967
Soccer Team Trips On Champ Route
by Jim Rickey
Championship escaped the Webster varsity soccer team as they were tripped 1-0 by newly crowned Section 5 champion Gates-Chill, Saturday, at Roberts-Wesleyan. Before a crowd exceeding 2500, the Rldgemen valiantly attempted to upset a rugged Gates squad which had defeated division champion Pittsford four days previously to advance to the Sections finals. The scrappy Webster outfit outplayed the cross-city rivals throughout the first half, but could not manage a tally. Superb passing and ball control were displayed by both teams when finally, with three minutes remaining in the fourth and final quarter, Harry Bruestle booted the ball into the Webster nets. The Rldgemen fiercely bombarded the opposition’s goal in the remaining minutes, but could not score to tie the contest. Coach Ralph Wager is proud of his well coached troops. All year he has repeated team work, team play and that is what these boys were — a real team.
A while back Zanne Brunner asked if I’d like to show some work in an upcoming show that she was organizing at the temporary art space in Irondequoit near the House of Guitars. Developer/dreamer Mike Nolan has some great plans for the lock of buildings at Tutus Avenue and Cooper Road. He’s bought up most of the block and has devoted space for a small gallery in the shop right next to the Chinese restaurant there. I dropped off the two charcoal drawing pictured in the blow-up of the photo above and I picked up a flyer for the show at the same time. I didn’t know they were calling it a “Holiday Show”! I probably wouldn’t have submitted something in red and green anyway. I was happy to learn Todd Beers, Edward Buscemi and Wendy Menzie were in the show. The opening is on Saturday, January 14th.
The people up on the hill had a party over the weekend. We heard the band and we live about a mile away, classic rock sort of stuff, old people music. Their sign looked kind of odd the next morning.
Gallery director, Bleu Cease called yesterday from Rochester Contemporary to arrange time to set up “Subterranean Surrogates,” my upcoming photo installation. I did RoCo’s logo a while back and I had a show there long before Bleu took over so I didn’t realize what a dynamic force Bleu is. He does everything over there and what he doesn’t do he arranges to have done right. He climbed off the ladder and on to the top of one of the walls in his flip flops while helping me block out the ambient light that was creeping into my allotted space.
I was there all day hanging the projector upside down from strings attached to the ceiling in the back room so the photos would drop into this space and fill one of the walls. Peggi was originally going to drop me off downtown but she made a run to JoAnne Fabrics to buy some black felt for the ceiling and she picked up a peanut butter and banana sandwich and pitched in on the ceiling effort while I balanced the projector. You would think four white walls with photos projected on one would be a pretty simple install but we were there until eight. Art is not as easy as it looks.
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.
There is a drawing show at the Memorial Art Gallery now. Margaret Explosion played the opening. We scanned the show during our break and intend to get back over there before it leaves. I take a painting class with Fred Lipp at the Creative Workshop in the basement of the gallery. They have just put up a drawing show of students and teacher work. The kids drawings are the best.
I had a class last night and came away with another one of Fred Lipp’s fundamentals. Fred suggested that I start with what attracted me to the piece.
He asked, “What about the source material makes you want to paint it?” I didn’t have time to reply. He said, “I’m assuming you don’t just paint them because they are there”. I’m not entirely sure about that assumption. I have a high tolerance for the mundane. He was suggesting that I paint what it is that attracts me to the source. “Start with what it is that attracts you to this subject. Get that down first. And then ask what it is that the painting needs.”
This might be obvious to some people but I know I don’t do that. I ususlly start by trying to place the head on the page in the right proportions. And I certainly am not attarcted to a source because it has the right proportions. Turns out I’m getting in the way of my own paintings.
Someday I will get off this dime and paint something other that local crime faces. We had our last painting class until after the damn holidays. I finished the one below and I took another one over to the annual members show at Rochester Contemporary. That opening is Friday. The paint was still wet and I didn’t have a chance to photograph that one.
Margaret Explosion plays tonight at the Little Theatre Cafe. I haven’t touched my drums since our last gig.
The girl who ran the cash register at Red and White on Park Avenue asked me if I was going to the David Bowie show that night at the War Memorial. I remember feeling guilty that I wasn’t planning on it. It was the first stop on his “Station To Station” tour. The next morning’s paper had a front page story about the felony pot bust that snagged Bowie, Iggy Pop and Rochester’s Chi Wah in a hotel room with the weed. Iggy didn’t play here or anything. I started a job that year as a graphic artist in the Crime Analysis Unit of the Rochester Police Department. My job entailed pulling mug shots for flyers in an effort to match perpetrators who lived in specified areas of the city with the crimes that were occurring in those areas. Bowie’s photo had recently been snatched but the record was still there.
ZiggyStarBust is auctioning that photo now on eBay (Current bid US $2,225.00). He says his sick brother found the photo in the trash at an estate sale of a retired Rochester Police Officer and every penny will go to his brother. He sent the photo to the Smoking Gun first to get a buzz going. Click the photo for a blow up.
My job with the cops lasted one year and and they all lost interest in the project so I was left reading the New Yorker and hanging around. I got so anxious waiting for the day to end during this period that my doctor prescribed valium. I did develop a fascination for mugshots and have painted quite a few over the years.