If everyone was nice the world would surely stop spinning. Why someone would go out of their way to send someone that they don’t know a nasty letter is just one of those things. It hardly makes sense. But if you wanted to delve deeply, to descend to those depths, you could probably come up with an explanation. But it would only make as much sense as, “That’s what makes the world go ’round.”
But to call that anonymous someone on it, to rub the letter in their face and capitalize on it, that advances the ball. Bleu Cease did just that when he posted the letter to Facebook and received hundreds of well-deserved, supportive responses. BuzzFeed picked the story. In a brilliant move Bleu took one of the anonymous letter writer’s own phrases, “Cool, Artsy, With It,” put it on a t-shirt and the gallery has sold nearly a hundred.
Everybody has experienced a variation of this story but they usually don’t have such a positive outcome. In 1969 I was jumped by three frat guys at Indiana University. I assume they they were fraternity brothers, they all had yellow Greek symbols on their jackets. The length of my hair triggered a “beat up the fag” response and after getting a few good punches in I was left knocked out, face down on the sidewalk with a broken nose, jaw and glasses.
When we saw Bleu on Friday I told him I wished it was a better slogan on the t-shirt. He said there were others in the letter that he might use down the line. Like, “What Makes You Tick?” “Nothing But A Freak,” “Going Down The Tubes” and my favorite, “Off The Main Steam.”
Eleven o’clock seemed a little early for a beer so I passed until halftime but then gave in when Croatia scored. We watched the World Cup Final down at our neighbor’s place. They had a few of their Jamaican friends over and we all pretty much cheered for Croatia. They played a better game but lost. The only statistic that really counts is the number of goals. There was quite a bit of food and the match flew by. I wanted it to last forever. One of the guys brought cod fritters (cod, broccoli, batter and habanero peppers). They were killer! We brought two home for dinner and had them with a fresh salad, arugula, kale and cilantro, all from the garden.
We picked up our 6×6 purchases this afternoon and I photographed three of them out in the driveway. I’m really happy with these. The first one, probably done by a kid, is every bit as cool as Hans Hoffmann’s push pull stuff. It commanded the main wall as you walk in the gallery. The beachball is an irresistable knockout. Just a bit of the air has escaped and the three primary colors heroicly define the form while the white circle on the top of the ball is just small enough to make you question it all. And that hotter than July ground! As my neighbor pointed out “La Avocat” should really be “L’avocat” but it is not. The painting is not the fruit either even though it says it is. We had to bring this home.
According to Rodney Taylor’s notes, his painting explores the June night in 1872 when Frederick Douglas returned to Rochester after learning his family farm on South Avenue had burnt down in a suspected arson. It is my favorite piece in the new show at RoCo, a show that explores “The Living Legacy of Frederick Douglass” on two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Rochester’s most important figure.
The 1899 statue of Douglas, the one that used to be in front of the New York Central Train Station on the corner of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue and is currently in Highland Park, was the first statue dedicated to an African American in the United States. Later this year it will be moved again to spot closer to his old house.
Writing in his newspaper, The North Star, Douglas said, “While Rochester is among the most liberal of northern cities it nevertheless has its share of that Ku Klux Klan spirit which makes anything owned by a colored man a little less respected and secure than when owned by a white citizen.
Taylors painting is shows what was left of the house. Nothing but the horror.
I always found my sister’s Barbie dolls a little creepy. Far from cuddly. like my teddy bear, they were hard and pointy and a little too grown up and serious looking.
“In the Dollhouse,” by Dina Goldstein, currently on view at Rochester Contemporary, pretty much confirms my early impressions but her photo creations are thoroughly engaging as an indictment of the ideal couple. Goldstein “plays Barbie,” as my sister used to call it, with real people and she airbrushes on the obvivious doll features, the ones that allow the dolls to turn their heads 180 degrees. Goldstein says “In The Dollhouse” “offers a profound commentary on the transient nature of beauty, the difficulty of marriage and the importance of authenticity.”
This art installation stopped us dead in our tracks. The unlikely setting a Wegmans parking lot. The tipped over shopping carts and the yellow caution tape surrounding the bent pole were all rather alarming. Was this a crime scene being preserved? We asked one of the orange-suited “helping Hands” and he told us a guy was doing about fifty in the parking lot and he slammed into the Handicapped sign.
Interesting to think about why the person or people that hung the 2013 Rochester Contemporary Members Show decided to put Dan McCormick’s photo next to my “Local Homeless Kid.” It sort of works.
The annual Members Show is always the best show they have at RoCo. The place was packed last night and it preempted First Friday. It will be packed again tonight. The news, announced last night, that RoCo has met 76 per cent of their five year fundraising goal (to pay for the building outright) in the first year of five was welcome. This is a healthy organization with a great staff and great members. Now we could use a few more great shows.
First Friday’s art crawl is sometimes rewarding and sometimes not but it is always entertaining. When the art fails to engage the conversation always picks up the slack. We ducked in and out of art spaces on three floors of the Hungerford Building staying the longest in Brian Peterson’s studio looking at his assemblages the shortest at Heather Erwin’s space where some sort of reading was going on to a packed house. We heard she had been temporarily locked out of Facebook for some controversial posting about her show. Doesn’t fb know Heather is keeping them in business in this town? The RIT show at the R gallery on College Avenue was interesting in that the student work looked better than the faculty work in most cases. And over at RoCo it was nice to see that Robert Marx had sold approximately $20,000 worth of paintings. Rochester likes his work for reasons that I don’t quite understand.
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.
We got a personal invite from Heather Erwin so we started First Friday at her place. Met an up and coming photo journalist there and told him I thought photo journalism was getting better. This opinion is only based on the number of photos I’ve cut out of the newspaper lately.
We cut through the creepy leather store in Anderson Alley and stopped in the Bop Shop. I had tried to download Billy Bang’s newest, “A Prayer For Peace”, but it wasn’t in the iTunes store and I thought I’d pick up the cd here but they were sold out. Like any good record store Rick made a persuasive argument for picking up another cd, “Tara’s Song” by Ahmed Abullah who used to play trumpet with Sun Ra. His band does two beautiful versions of Ra tunes and a amazing cover of Ornette’s “Lonely Woman.”
Onward to Record Archive where Lucinda Storms showed some brand new luscious Valentines Day paintings. Stan Merrell was onstage playing a therimin. Alayna offered us Genny Bock Beer and we settled in for some free ranging conversation. Rick Simpson who had earlier tried to sell me a down jacket that he picked up at Eddie Bauer for forty bucks and was now trying to sell the coat to Jeff Spevak. Jeff’s dad had just died and he wrote a beautiful piece on him. Stan and Brian Williams tried to help me find the black and white mode on my new Nikon and I bought one of the Dick Storm’s appropriation t-shirts. He did a tempting Warhol VU banana one but I went for the bright green “Archive Rock Beer” shirt.
It was only fitting that Wendell Castle would be holding court when we got to Rochester Contemporary for the Makers/Mentors show featuring his work. Perhaps Rochester’s most successful artist, he has influenced a generation of woodworkers.
We were looking at the other makers’ armor art with Martha O’Connor when Martha exclaimed, “Of course!” It dawned on her that Nancy, Wendell’s wife, had certainly crafted these dwarf sized amour suits to hang in their “castle.”
We discussed going to Abilene for the Spampinato Brothers but had spotted a beautiful black and white snow scene painting on the First Friday website so we headed off to a place called the Living Room Cafe on Monroe Avenue. Perfect name! A small crowd was watching “Reality Bites” on a projection tv. The screen was pulled down over some of the paintings that we had come to see but this place was comfortable. We were offered a free cup of coffee and stuck around for the rest of the movie.
With about ten inches of fresh snow we followed a snowshoe trail through the woods and out to the park where we expected to find the Mayor and his buddies drinking beer at the top of the bobsled run. But it seemed we were the only ones in the park. There were no tracks from other skiers. Were we the only ones waiting for more snow?
We took a break at the top of the big hill and spotted a small American flag taped to a tree branch with the words “One World Under God” written in magic marker over the stripes. When we got back to the house there was a message from Rochester Contemporary reminding me to pick up the painting I had in the Members Show so I headed downtown and found this graffiti on the building next door to RoCo.
At the same time Peggi and i were dodging Bleu Cease’s camera at the RoCo Members Show opening last Friday we heard this woman this women ask Bleu if he would take a picture of her in front of her painting. Of course the gallery director obliged. We ran into this same woman on Sunday when we stopped in at the “Upside Down” show at the High Falls Gallery in downtown Rochester. The director, Sally Wood Winslow, introduced me to her when I told Sally that I liked her painting.
The woman uses the name Martian and she took me out in the hall, away from Sally, Peggi and her mom, and she told me a story about how she first became aware of art. Her dad was looking at a magazine that had a feature on Andy Warhol’s soup cans. She said she remembered him ranting about how dumb those people were. “Those people?” I sort of asked. “White people” she said. And I spun out thinking about this.
I really enjoyed doing these small paintings on canvas paper. I knocked out about twenty in the last two weeks and was planning on submitting them all to the Rochester Contemporary 6 by 6 Show. But then someone told me there was a limit of ten entries per person. When I found that out I kicked around whether I should be submitting the ten I like the least or the the ten I liked most.
I settled on the later and spread them all out on our kitchen floor yesterday so Peggi, her mom and I could pick our ten favorite. Peggi’s mom was a little disturbed by the women with no pupils and she she joked that none of them were exactly good looking. Of course I thought I was going to submit the the ones I liked regardless of what they thought but I was easily swayed by the two astute Fourniers. And it turned out the ten best didn’t exactly work together so we chose the best group of ten. They are twenty bucks a piece at RoCo.
I know which pieces I’m going to be scrambling for when they open the cash registers at the upcoming 6 by 6 show at Rochester Contemporary. My only problem is that I can’t decide which piece I like most of the two mixed media pieces that Peggi Fournier submitted.
I parked around the corner from RoCo and was cutting across the Episcopal Church property as the bells chimed five o’clock, the official deadline. I had to fill out duplicate forms for each of Peggi’s pieces and the ten of mine, twenty four in all. My crime faces all had the same name so I swung a deal with the girl there make copies of the first one. Peggi’s pieces were untitled so I left the space provided for “title” blank thinking that “Untitled” would actually be a title.
On my way out I noticed someone sitting on the sidewalk sketching the church on a six by six inch board.
The Bop Shop’s Tom Kohn comes from a family of hunters and he told me he liked my post on the deer. He said he reads my blog every day now and this kind of threw me off so I didn’t post anything yesterday to throw him off.
I’ve been working on some six by sixes for the upcoming RoCo show. I spotted my stuff from last year in the bottom row of this photo. I submitted prints of paintings last year and never imagined they would sell. I really felt bad when they did, like I had ripped someone off. So this year I’m doing real, miniature paintings and it has been a lot of fun. Pete LaBonne was in town last week and he told us, “I have a lot more work to do before I record again. You know, to come up with something I can listen to when it’s done.” I know exactly what he means. That’s why I am happy to contribute art work to this RoCo show even tough they take 100% and even keep the ones that don’t sell. Like the Clothesline Show for the MAG, this is their largest fundraiser.
Our cherry tree blossoms came out today so I grabbed this shot while still in my pjs. Peggi and I spent about an hour this morning swinging a sledge hammer at an old stump in front of our house. It has been rotting since we moved in here it’s time to remove it. We borrowed a pointed sledge hammer from Rick and Monica. Monica had a name for the the tool that I have forgotten. It’s killer. I’m sore all over.
We took a walk and followed what sounded like the world’s biggest woodpecker. We used our ears as tracking devices while he worked away on tall hollow tree. When we got close but spooked him and watched as he flew to another tree. It was a beautiful Pileated, like Woody Woodpecker.
It’s Brad Fox‘s birthday today. We are the same age for two days. I plan on giving him a call as soon as I finish this entry.
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.”
Detail from “A Lot Besides” by Ricky Sears at Rochester Contemporary. Click photo for full shot.
RoCo’s new show opened last night with “In Between”, paintings and sculpture by Brooklyn based artists Malin Abrahamsson and Ricky Sears. Bleu Cease, RoCo’s director, introduced us to both artists last night and we had a nice chat about their work. Malin said she felt as though Rochester was a third contributor to the show because their reaction to the city was right there on the walls.
I’m not sure if i ever would have determined that this work was based on Rochester if I didn’t read the blurb in the small round room that was stuck to the wall above a delightful book that the the two artists had put together as worked on this show. Malin’s paintings were done on canvas and Ricky’s were done on glass, old window panes in fact, and they are quite beautiful.
There’s Nod right in the middle of Frank DeBlase’s “View From The Pit” show at Record Archive
Record Archive was hopping last night. There were about twenty five skateboarders out front on the unseasonably warm night. Inside Alanya offered us a can of ice cold Rolling Rock and Dick Storms had Nino’s pizza laid out on the table. It was hard to get an unobstructed view of Frank‘s photos. I centered my shot around Nod so I didn’t get Joan Jett or Ivy. There are hundred photos in this show and the prints were selling fast. So you better get over there before all the good ones are gone.
We go to a lot of local art openings but I’m willing to bet this fellow art aficionado goes to all the art openings. I usually see him chowing down at the refreshments table but last night he was checking out the Sam van Aken’s “Audition” at RoCo on East Avenue. His outfit was nicely cordinated with he work last night. Chas Davis had some nice big Paul Jenkins like paintings in the back room.
Fernando Torres played like a real scrapper for the Spanish nationals in the Euro Cup yesterday and “won the day” as they say. We brought Peggi’s mom over for the game and dinner. We had some Spanish red wine on ice with a little sugar and some lime juice. We rooted for Spain. We are sort of obsessed with that country like the kid in Breaking Away was obsessed with Italy. I am happy for Spain. We made strawberry shortcake for dessert.
I put sixteen printouts of photos of my paintings in RoCo’s 6×6 show and kept hearing from people that had bought one. This made cringe because I wasn’t happy with the printouts. The color was not right. The whites weren’t white. And I didn’t like the fake canvas look. They had a nasty un-canvas-like shine to them. I planned to do actual paintings for the show but never found the time. I did those prints on the day of the deadline on the free printer we got with the last computer we bought never expecting anyone to buy them.
So today I hooked up with Richard Edic. We went over to Booksmart and picked out some paper. I decided on some etching paper and we went back to Richard’s house to run prints of the paintings on his printer. These at least looked somewhat like the original paintings. They better, the paper was one hundred bucks for a box of 20 sheeets of 13′ x 19″. I took the new prints over to RoCo and swapped them for the old ones. It was like a software update. The director, Bleu Cease, was very cooperative. The show is up for a few more days.
We got to the opening of RoCo’s 6 by 6 Show too late to buy a Lorraine Bohonos painting. They all had red dots on the them by the time we got there. All the work in this show is six inches by six inches and it is all for sale at twenty bucks a piece. There were over three thousand pieces in the show, some by big name artists and it was all displayed annonymously. RoCo keeps the money and they made some, judging by the number of red dots. We wandered around for hours and kept finding things to buy. I’m happy the show was such a success for them. We finished the night over at Abiene where I managed to beat Bill Jones in 8 Ball.
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.