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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

By Grier Horner 

May 14, 2015




This is one of the paintings that will be in my Retrospective at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Opening with a public reception on June 5, the show at that beautiful, city-owned gallery will be up through June 27.


The reception will be from 5 to 8 on the 5th. After that the show will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 to 5 p.m.


This is a painting I did two years ago but have spent the last two days reworking some sections, including the portrait of the woman, Nicole Rizzo. It is in acrylic, pastel, oil pastel and collaged photos I took of her, as well as pictures of the skull of the recently discovered skeleton of King Richard III. Clumps of saved acrylic paint were added to create the folds, the light section of her hair and the wounds on her arm and knee. Why the wounds? I still don't know why I did that.


It is 7 feet by 4 feet over an old painting by Joe Goodwin, one of two he gave me to paint over.


I'm calling it "Arcangel" because of the suggestion of a halo and wings.







Here the painting is before I made the changes. The main difference is that I gave her a face. Before, her face was vestigal. Looking at the old version, I like the red wing. Maybe I'll make it red again. I was trying to be more subtle - not one of my strong points. I also turned her gown black instead of brown. Which version do you like better?




No angel would dress like that, you might say. But who knows?



I'm going to be blogging and Facebooking more about the show. I hope I don't wear out my welcome.













April 27, 2015




Lanesborough photographer Nick DiCandia's essay - "take another look" - pares down the food pantry at the South Congregational church to its essentials: Need and generosity.



Studying this photo of people lining up for the food illustrates the need.




And this shot of a volunteer illustrates the reward of generosity.




Here are two more volunteers.



And here is a woman taking her provisions home.



This shot shows one wall of his paintings in the passageway that leads to the main section of the gallery. The black mountings compliment DiCandia's use of black and white photography. This is one of his first forays into the world of digital photography. He's pulled it off as well as if he were using his beloved standby - film.


Unfortunately if you haven't seen this classy exhibition already, you've missed it. It closed last Saturday


Here are some more shots. I don't think they need my commentary.






This chart, one of four in the show, is self explanatory.


I apologize to Nick for the extent that my shots of his shots have distorted the black and white. I congratulate him for taking on an important social issue - something I don't see much of around here since Craig Walker left the Berkshire Eagle for the Denver Post - a paper where his work has captured two Pulitzer Prizes.






Now come the outsider artists. This astonishing  painting, "Birds and Bikers," is by a good friend of mine, Paul Graubard, a Lenox resident who's third floor studio is on North Street in Pittsfield.



This mini-skirted beauty is "Casino Girl" by David Eddy of West Stockbridge. (I earlier posted his name as Paul Eddy until sharp-eyed Jennifer GClawdia Gallant spotted the mistake.)


Both Eddy and Graubard will participate in a discussion of "Primitive, Self-Taught and Outsider Art" at the Whitney Center for the Arts on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield tomorrow (April 29) at 6 p.m. The gallery will open at 5 to give people a last chance to see the show which closes that day.


Ute Stebich, a former Lenox gallery operator and well-known art collector , will fill out the panel and the talk will be moderated by Lauren Clark, a Great Barrington galleryist.


Also on display at the Whit is Reginald Madison of Athens, New York. Below is one of his paintings in the show.



It's a good show and below are two more pieces by each of the artists.



This is "Karen Likes Teal" by Graubard, who still paints up a vivid storm in his 80s.  Below is his "Delila Seduces Sampson." Both look very pleased with what's going on.



Robecca Alban Hoffberger, founder-director of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which has some of Graubard's work in its permanent collection, has said of him:


"...Paul Graibard is indeed a wonder-filled artist, married to two great loves - Karen, his timeless poet wife/best friend, and to that powerful mistress, wonder itself."



This is Eddy's "Walking Stick" and below is his "Fireworks." I think they're fine paintings.



This is what Tonia Shoumatoff wrote about Eddy in The Millbrook Independent in 2013:


"David Eddy is a scrappy guy who likes to paint scratchy paintings which initially seem naïve but are actually very complex and expressive.   The self-taught artist who is being exhibited at the Ober Gallery in Kent is represented by  the Albert Shahinian Gallery in Rhinebeck.  He is from the Berkshires and has been exhibited all over the world."


And here are two more by Madison.





Of Madison artist Carol Diehl, has written this:


"This (his home and studios in Athens) is one of several industrial spaces he's 'Reggified' since I've known him, and patrons of Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, MA, where he designed the interior, will recognize the style - humorous conglomerations of objects only Reggie would choose, more of which can be found in his shop on Warren Street in Hudson." (Club Helsinki no longer has its Great Barrington nightclub.)


Wednesday night's discussion should be a blast and it's free.








April 18




Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Resreved


I looked out the bedroom window at 6:35 this morning and saw heavy fog. I got up, cleaned up, grabbed a protein bar, a banana and an old coffee from the ice box and headed for the Swamp.


Along stretches of the road I had to slow way down because the fog was so dense. I was thrilled. I've wanted to get shots of the swamp closed in by fog but the last time I set out to do that it lifted before I got there. This time it did not.



The sun was trying to break through but didn't until I got about a mile in. You can see it's reflection in the water in the shot below. But even at that point the fog was still with us.




I pushed through the underbrush to get to the Heroic Tree: it looks like a war monument to me, something like the sculpture of the flag raising at Iwo Jima in World War II.



I've published a photo of the Heroic Tree before. And mentioned then, as I will now, that after you struggle through the thick growth to go north of the, it vanishes.


As proof I offer the shot above taken about 50 feet beyond the Heroic Tree, with the camera focused on the spot where it stood. As I've said before myth and magic intertwine with reality in the Swamp.



Zeroing in on the stump in the picture of the vanishing tree, you can see how little it would take for Circe or some other sourceress to turn this

chunk of wood into a living, breathing swamp predator.




And take a look at this dark, secluded spot I stubbled across this morning. I wouldn't set foot in there, beautiful as it is. Too spooky. Why is this spot so dark and why hasn't it been penetrated by the fog?



I didn't come across any of the swamp dwellers I have spotted occasionally. But I did see this orange egg hanging from a branch. I don't know its significance but it obviously was hung there by someone other than the Easter bunny.


I did meet a gray-haired woman at the edge of the Swamp but I'm sure she was a drylander.


"I just spotted a red-winged blackbird," she said. There was excitement in her voice. She pointed to the place she'd seen it - a sure harbinger of Spring.


"That's great," I said.



When we left for Louisiana 12 days ago - we got back Thursday - snow still held sway in the Swamp. But it is gone now and new life is poking through.

At the same time, reminders of winter, like these oak leaves, cling to the Swamp.




As I headed back, the fog was burning off. And by the time I got to the car, you didn't feel it as a presence in this place. Witness the sunlit tree graveyard below. Swamps support life but they are killers, too.



I'm back at the house now, finishing up this post and downing handfuls of honey toasted oat cereal that's supposed to be good for both my tummy and my heart. Whatever else it may be, it's good.











April 5, 2015


Photos by Grier Horner


Rising above the stairwell leading to the Crane Room at the Berkshire Museum, "The Lost Pleiad" scans in vain for her sister stars in the Pleiad cluster, while behind her on the left flames a sunrise by Jim Schantz of Stockbridge.



Here's a closer look at the Schantz painting in the first photo, "Atlantic Sunrise." It's a big piece and it lights up that large room. 




While in the Crane Room itself, Giovanni Cinselli's "Girl Reading," circa 1860, concentrates on her book and on holding her robe in place, never taking a peak at the Schantz paintings in this skylit room.






Nearby, "Judith" by Giulio Tadolini, hand on the hilt of her sword, appears more concerned with getting to Holofernes, the enemy general. She beheads him, saving Israel. The Schantz oil she is too preoccupied to contemplate is "Summer Dusk, Housatonic." Any effort she is making to maintain her modesty is failing. If only sculptors of this era had learned a gown could be held in place by thread and cloth far fewer breasts would have been exposed to public view.






Some 260 years earlier Caravaggio had figured that out, as illustrated in his famous and gory painting of "Judith Beheadidng Holofernes," who was so drunk he didn't put up a fight.






By 1901 Klimt folled the sculptor's lead rather than Caravaggio's in his "Judith with the Head of Holofernes." I'm afraid I wouldn't have noticed the head if it wasn't in the title.





Getting back to the Berkshire Museum, there is more locally produced art on display in the new first-floor space provided for that purpose. The first artists picked by the Museum to be shown there are those in the second floor gallery at the corner of South and West Housatonic streets noteworthy for the humorously ironic signs artist Michael McKay makes and places in the windows.




Here McKay is in an architectural mode. This is "Broadway & E 9th St (version 3)," 2012. Unlike Schantz, who was working in oil on canvas, McKay uses acrylic on paper. Because I had to take the photo from an angle to avoid the glare, the piece is distorted here. For that I apologize.





See what I mean. This was my favorite of McKay's, but I couldn't do it justice either head on or at an angle.






This one, "305 W 2rd St (brownout)" from 2010, I took directly from McKay's website to give you a better idea of what he's up to. I hope that's OK, Michael.



The other members of empty set projects are Monika Pizzichemi and Marcel Bova and they are also on display at the museum's new BerkshireNow space.





Here are three of Monika Pizzichemi's works, top to bottom, "Halo (Pink Cycle)", "Elephant Spots" and "Sleestak." All three were done in 2006 using eggshells, acrylic and wood.






Still working with eggshells, she has several similar to this one, "Southwest." It was done in 2008 and incorporates glass as well as acrylic and wood.




And here are six acrylics by Marcel Bova, the third member of empty set projects. A lot of other stuff is going on at the museum right now, much of it aimed at appealing to kids and their parents. Witness this incredible passsageway below:















March 28, 2015







This is the view of mountains in Northern Berkshire as seen from my vantage point above Partridge Road near the Mall Road in Pitttsfield (or maybe Lanesbough) yesterday afternoon. Photos by Grier Horner, All Rights Reserved.


Yesterday afternoon I parked on the fringe of the Mall lot and pulled on my boots, wrapped my camera strap around my right wrist and crossed the Mall Road to the skimobile trails on the south side.


That doesn't sound like a big deal. But for the last half year I've been doing all my tramping around the Swamp and decided I could do with a little elevation. So here's an invitation to join my on my hike.





We start climbing through the field where the corn is grown for the farmstand on Partridge Road and where Petricca stores the prestressed concrete panels it is making for the deck of the new bridge over the Hudson River at Tarrytown. The smoke in the background is from Pittsfield's garbage incinerator.


It's easy walking here. The deep snow has melted away to this as we reach the end of the cornfield with its magnificent birch.






Now for a little explanation on why my blog has dark since early January. I could tell you that NSA had silenced it for reasons of national security. That's the exciting - but totally false - answer. The real one is that I had switched over to a new operating system for my Mac and it turned out that my Adobe Contribute software was no longer compatible. For a while I was posting over a makeshift system, but it was so frustrating and labor intensive that I gave up. Now Adobe has updated Contribute and I can publish again. (How lucky can you, gentle reader, get?)




      At this point we cross Partridge Road beside the bridge that carries the Mall

Road over it. What a view you get looking under that bridge.





                                                       I was worried about the climb on the other side of the road because a few

                                                       days earlier it had been snowcovered and was icy in places. It's so steep

                                                       that on that earlier trip I slipped on the ice and fell once but was more

                                                       concerned about losing my balance and toppling over backwards.

                                                       The sun and warmer temperatures had taken care of that as you can see. Not                                               .

                                                       pretty but good traction.





Up here, well above the road, everything's coming up birches. What beauties.




eering off the skimobile tracks I hit this dirt road - it looked like the

                                                      Veering off the beaten path I hit a plowed dirt road - an Interstate in

                                                      comparison - that goes to a high cellular tower perched near the crest.

                                                      It was still and peaceful up here and I should have been thinking deep

                                                      thoughts. But I was just taking it all in. I still had a climb before hitting

                                                      the top of the Mall Road.




  After getting there I went back in the woods. I decided to take a different

way back because I don't like the idea of sliding down that steep, muddy

path to Partridge Road.

This eventually took me to two high hillside fields. I had to cross through

the band of trees in the photo above to get to the next field. It was tough

walking here because the snowmobile paths had gotten soft and the snow was

 deep here. I would be walking easily on top of the trackS when suddenly the

  next step took me up to my knees in snow. In the process I fell four or five

times. But what better surface to fall on than deep, soft snow. 



                                                       From the second field I got a view of the woods just beyond the crest of

the hill. Not far from where I am in this shot, I was out of the deep snow.

 It was all easy going from there to the car.



                                                       This is me back at the car. My jeans were soaked up to the yellow lines I

                                                       drew on the photo. My boots only shipped a little snow when I sank in deep,

                                                       but enough that my socks were wet. I was very tired and gulped down the rest

                                                       of my iced coffee. (Iced coffee is a good winter drink because it is

                                                       still cold when you get back to the car after a 1.5 hour walk.)

                                                       I was elated. I love going on small adventures by myself. It's a holdover

                                                                                                              from the days I used to ride my bike on obscure roads in winter.


                                                       So the blog is back, for better or worse. I hope I didn't bore you. Sorry

                                                       the paragraph spacing under some of the pictures is all screwed up. Don't know

                                                       what happened.                                                     










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