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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

By Grier Horner 

August 1, 2015

 

 

This Cathedral painting, one of many in a series I painted in 2008, is hanging with five other paintings of mine, in the Berkshire Classics gallery, a new space opened up in the Berkshire Artist Museum (BAM) in North Adams.

 

At Thursday evening's reception for BAM's current exhibit, which spreads over parts of three floors, I listened to the museum director, Kevin Shaw, talking animatedly about the Cathedral with visitors. A Berkshire Community College art-history professor with a Phd, Keith Shaw was talking with a degree of feeling and insight that was stirring to me. I often have strong emotional attachments to my paintings both during and after their execution. But I fumble for words when I try to explain what I was trying to convey. So I asked him if he could write down what he said for this post. Here it is:

 

"Imbued with ambiguity, Cathedral delivers dual messages. The red tracery rendered in poured paint and outlining the edifice summons both the blood of a savior and the victims of the Church. Similarly, these red runs can be seen as a rising fire consuming the institution or a spiritual fervor sustaining it. While Horner adroitly delineates the elevation of a cathedral, he seems to also plant a fire in the belly of that beast; indeed, his painting doubles as a surging furnace. Do these fires murmur annihilation or do they offer a guiding light? Cathedral unquestionably is one of the most fascinating and accomplished paintings currently on view at Berkshire Artist Museum."

 

 

 

Here's a second Cathedral that he picked for the show when he and his wife Terri Boccia, a member of the Clark Art Institute staff, visited my studio

recently. I suggested that since I paint in series, it might be good to have all six of the pieces in this space come from one series. But Keith said he wanted to show a range of my work. He only included two from the Cathedral group, he said, because he and Terri could not decide which they like better.

 

Now I'm going to show you photos of some of the people who came into the new space to see my small show on a sweltering night. I have to admit that I enticed some visitors to take a look at my stuff by telling them that the room was equipped with a large, swivelling fan.

 

 

On the left is Eric Rudd, the artist-entrepreneur who converted a big North Adams mill into classy live-in studios for artists. He bought the large former Methodist Church to convert to a major art space - much of it for a museum for his sculpture and paintings*.  Years ago he another former church - much smaller - for the same purpose and now owns more North Adams houses of worship than most of the town's denominations.

 

Also in the photo is artist Tom Hoadley who has work on view at the church and who, with his wife, owns the Hoadley Gallery in Lenox.

 

 

Pictured her are four generations of my family. I'm on the right. My mother is the one doing the handstand. She could walk on her hands well into her 50s. Next is her granddaughter, Shannon Nichols, a Pittsfield teacher, and her great-granddaughter, Riley Nicols, a Pittsfield High junior.

 

 

Here we have Babbie, my wife, and our daughter and granddaughter. The painting behind them is the Goldfinch on a Tart, painted last year after I read Donna Tartt's novel Goldfinch.

 

 

Here's Leo Mazzeo, a friend and an artist with one of his iconic paintings in the room next to mine. It's because of Leo that I painted Goldfinch on a Tart. A little more about that in a few seconds.

 

 

Deirdre Flynn Sullivan, festive in red, is next to my painting Dresden Mon Amour, part of a series about the firebombing of that German city. It dates back to 2006.

 

 

 

Now you can see why I call this painting Goldfinch on a Tart. I painted it last year when Leo suggested a bunch of us do pieces about food to hang at the Marketplace in downtown Pittsfield for First Fridays. I'm a big fan of Donna Tartt's novels, ....and The Goldfinch, in which the 1654 painting by Carel Fabritius played a major role. I'm also a fan of Jeanne Johnson, pictured with the big bird. P.S. The model for the tart was one I bought at Marketplace.

 

 

And here Jeanne's friend, Trish Gorman, inspired by the painting, does an inverted handstand. I loved it.

 

* BAM is a museum within the Rudd Art Museum. (Footnotes, no less. Pretty scholarly don't you think?)

 

 

 

 

 

July 21, 2015

 

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

 

Last week we were all at the ocean and it was good to be together and to do the things we always do there. Go to the beach, to restaurants, to the bike trail. Play board games, card games and ping pong. Hug the youngest children as often as we can.

 

It was me and Babbie, our three kids and their spouses and our five grandchildren. The ages range from 2 to 80. I am the freshly-coined octogenarian. We are a tightly knit family and have a grand time together.

 

Thursday it was cold and windy and the water was rough. During a walk along the water's edge, I took 400 shots of the waves. I'm including seven of them in this post. I also took 1,000 of other things: the grandchildren, Riley and Michelle para-sailing above the speedboat in which I was a passenger, the view from the open-cockpit biplane I had a ride in.

 

Waves can travel great distances. They can be benign or bellicose, timid or tumultuous. They are fascinating to watch but hard to paint. Great artists like Winslow Homer bring them to life. I was trying to do with my camera what I could never do with my brush.

 

 

The day after getting back home I drove up to MASS MoCA in North Adams and looked at Clifford Ross's ulta-high-definition photos of waves during hurricanes. They are sensational and located in the newly-opened building 12.

 

 

To get his shots, Ross donned a wetsuit, floatation device, and safety harness so he could be yanked back to shore if necessary and waded in with his camera.

 

There were no heroics in the way I shot the pictures on this screen. I never got in water deeper than my ankles. If I had waded into these waves I would have been bowled over, toyed with, dragged out by the undertow. It would have been: So long, it's been good to know you.

 

 

I don't have a telephoto lens. What I did was take shots that took in much more of the ocean than I'm showing you here. But they were often in sharp focus. So I could zoom in while processing them to grab the close ups you're seeing here.

 

 

When Hemingway's Old Man finally hooked his giant fish, and battled to bring it to land, he dreamed of lions on the beach. He had seen that as a young seaman.

 

Now I'm thinking of the waves as the lions on the beach. Roaring, strutting, leaving no question who is king.

 

 

Sometimes it is good to go to the beach on a day like this and watch the sea in all its glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 4, 2015

 

 

Photo by Grier Horner

 

The more I look at this detail of a piece by Phil Pryjma the more I like it. Pryjma, a psychiatrist , is certainly exploring the inner thoughts of this woman, who appeared in the June Assembage show at the Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield. I wasn't the only one who liked Parisian. Someone bought it.

 

 

The show was the first where Jennifer GClawdia Gallant of Pittsfield got to fly almost solo as a curator, after assisting putting together a number of the gallery's exhibits this year with the former curator, artist Richard Britell, and Ghazi Kazmi, director of the Whit.

 

 

Jennifer GCawdia Gallant. Photo by Sunday Brunch

 

Last night, Pittsfield's First Friday, marked the opening of her second Whit show, Echoes of the Hudson River School. Fully responsible for this one, Jennifer set it up with the cooperation of Carrie Haddad, after the planned July show fell through. Ms. Haddad, who operates a well-known gallery in Hudson, New York, gave Jennifer permission to show paintings by artists she represents.

 

"Then I did studio visits" to meet the artists and select the work to be shown. Jennifer, a portrait in enthusiasm, comes to the task of curator, not as an artist but as an art lover. And she's having a ball.

 

This painting by Leigh Palmer of Hudson is among those on display. Your next opportunity to see these paintings will be Saturday, July 11, from 3 to 6. At least two of the artists are expected to be on hand.

 

 

Photo courtesy Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, New York.

 

 

Getting back to Assemblage, here's Phil Pryjma's Tin Man. Although Phil wasn't the artist with the most pieces on display, his works attracted my attention. In the interest of disclosure, I should point out that Phil was my shrink years ago when I needed one and has shown my work at his St. Francis Gallery in South Lee.

 

To create these he first makes a three dimensional face of papier mache. Then he makes Xerox enlargements of photos in fashion magazines. But you can't just take a flat photo and glue it onto a 3-D face with its protruding brow, nose, lips and chin. Phil has to slice and dice the Xeroxs and fill in the gaps.

 

In the process he tries "create an emotional picture from a bland fashion face," Phil told me.

 

The stips of type he uses come from my alma mater, The Berkshire Eagle. I'm tempted to suggest using these word strips to highlight the lips of a future piece and call it Read My Lips.

 

Here are some other pieces in Assemblage that I liked.

 

 

This is Fetish 3 by Autumn Doyle, made of deer and crow bones and crow feathers and feet. Below is her Three Jaws Ascending made of deer and cow jaws on driftwood.

 

 

 

 

The vitrines above and below were made by Denis Herbert.

 

 

 

 

Harry Lazare is the artist who assembled The Devil's House is the Color of Money, above.

 

 

 

The figures in the foreground of this photo were made by Kim Engle and the painting behind them is one of Rick Costello's astronomically-correct space scapes. At this point Engle's figures had been moved into another room. Costello's painting was not part of Assemblage.

 

Seeing art at the Whit has been difficult this year because other than at the openings, artists' talks or musical events the gallery is not open. Jennifer and Ghazi hope to institute weekend hours to remedy that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2015

 

 

Photos by Grier Horner

 

Scott Taylor is the most prolific and best selling artist I know. He says he paints more than 260 pieces a year. If you live in Berkshire County, the chances are you've seen his work.

 

They're on loan in a lot of places. If you go to the new BMC Cancer Center his work hangs along the corridors. His paintings brighten the waiting room of my doctor's office in Lee. And they grace many, many homes in the Berkshires. He has collectors.

 

Scott also has a new studio. He had been at NU Arts on North Street in Pittsfield for six years. "But I just outgrew the space as the scale and volume of my work grow."

 

 

Here's Scott with his painting "Winter's Night" in the large exhibition space that the owners of his new studio are lending him in their building, the former Crane Stationary Building in the center of Dalton. From the size of the painting you can see what he means about his interest in working at a larger scale.

 

The owners are Steve and Maria Sears and Wila Kuh. Scott's is the first studio there but there is space for a lot more as they develop the large building. Storage also comes with the studio and he figures he has 700 paintings in the building.

 

 

This is his exhibition space. He has 38 paintings hanging in it - 32 of them painted since he moved in.

 

 

And this is his very comfortable studio. "I miss the very special group of artists (at NU Arts) but sometimes you have to do what you have to do." His wall-mounted easel is behind me as I take the photo.

 

 

 

Now I'm going to take you on a sort of seasonal tour of Scott Taylor paintings in the exhibit space, starting with winter.

 

 

 

 

And then the torrents of spring.

 

 

To summer...

 

 

To autumn... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a Taylor painting that I find fascinating, Quarry Pond Reflections. "It was painted as part of an on-going series about a year ago," Scott says. "I have added several more paintings since then to this series. I suspect that I will continue to do so until the muse runs out of gas. I don’t think that it will be happening anytime soon. I continue to find landscapes every day that will fit into that series."

 

 

As do many of the paintings I've shown here, it shows his increasing interest in abstraction.

 

"For me as a landscape painter  I am more confident moving to a more abstract image of a landscape " than to pure abstraction. "That being said I’m finding my color vocabulary has grown so much over the last few years that i think working in a abstract form and feeling more confident in doing so is within sight."

 

Scott's show at the stationary building has been up since May 2 and is expected to come down a week from today. It has been open most weekends, but won't be this coming weekend because he will have paintings down at the Lee Jazz event. You can make an appointment with him through a Facebook message if you want to see it before it comes down.

 

 

 

 

 

June 7, 2015

 

 

Photo by Susan Gelller/All Rights Reserved

 

A year ago it seemed so far away, but suddenly it was Saturday and we were at the opening of my Retrospective at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. An event keyed to my turning 80.

 

In this photo I am with my granddaughter, Riley Nichols, a brain, an athlete and a sophomore at Pittsfield High. She was the model for my Ophelia of the Swamp photo behind us. It represents my current art - computer-manipulated photography.

 

 

 

Photo by Eric Horner

 

Much of the time from 5 to 8 the city-owned gallery was packed. I talked to so many people and had to ask so many people to tell me their names because I'm faceblind that I was punchy by the time we left for a drink and dinner at the District.

 

But I was elated, psyched, pumped, too.

 

As my wife points out, I love to be the center of attention. The show was one of the thrills of my life. Someone suggested it could be my last one. Me? I am confident that my Swamp series will be shown somewhere. Hopefully in a number of somewheres.

 

 

 

Photo by Eliza Cooney

 

Here I am entertaining (hopefully) some of those in attendance. I got a great kick out of talking about the paintings. Here are some I thought I'd show you because we didn't get a good shot of them during the party.

 

 

This Runway wall is a compilation of five life-sized paintings. We mounted them - or I should say Scott Taylor and Leo Mazzeo did - so the bottoms were flush with the floor, letting the women walk into the room. And on the wall below are five paintings from my

Jeanne d'Arc and Cathedral series:

 

 

A 2003 portrait of one of my favorite subjects, Linda Baker-cimini, was purchased by Eliza Cooney and Peter Kaziba, great friends from . Below that photo is one of an animated young woman and her mother. I had fun talking with them.

 

 

Photo by Babbie Horner

 

 

 

Photo by Eliza Cooney

 

 

 

Photo by Susan Geller

 

Here's a shot of the Berkshire Eagle old guard by my friend Susan Geller. From the left, Charles Bonenti, me, Ingrid MacGillis, Clarence Fanto, and Don MacGillis.

 

 

 

Here's another Eagle veteran, Lew Cuyler, my daughter Shannon Nichols and Lew's wife Harriet. They're contemplating Ophelia of the Swamp, show below. It is 100 inches long and printed by Massive Graphics of Pittsfield.

 

 

 

 

We had food courtesy of the Lichtenstein and we provided wine, although I learned later that the five one-liter bottles were emptied before the party ended. Sorry.

 

 

Photo by Susan Geller

 

We also had a classy piano man, Bob Shepherd, a faculty member at the Berkshire Music School, who Babbie engaged.

 

 

Photo by Susan Geller

 

Above is another piece that sold. The fingers and heels of the hands form a heart. The other two pieces were left over from the last show, I think.

 

 

Photo by Susan Geller

 

That's my version of Hester Prynne from my Scarlet Letter series, appearing as only the Rev. Dimesdale would see her: she's shed her prime Puritan outerwear.

 

 

Photo by Eliza Cooney

 

It looks like I'm about to have a collision with the Archangel in this painting, which I did in 2013 and modified two weeks ago.

 

 

Photo by Susan Geller

 

Here I'm talking with Arlene Melliflous. I appologize for inflicting pictures of myself on you so often in this post. Below both Babbie and Anita McFarland, the model for the painting, beam.

 

 

Photo by Susan Gordon.

 

PS There are people I would like to thank for making this show possible, Megan Whilden, the city's former cultural chief, her  successor, Jennifer Glockner, and Jennifer's right-hand woman, Shiobbean Lemme.

 

 

 

 

May 27, 2015

 

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rightts Reserved

 

My Retrospective at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield opens in just a little over a week and I am still messing around with some of the paintings. I worked on this one the last couple nights. For reasons that I suspect are obvious, it's called The Haunting.

 

I lightened some shading in another painting this morning.

 

Finding artists who continue to work on their paintings until the last minute is not uncommon, I suspect. I remember reading that Francis Bacon would go to a museum after his exhibit was hung there and continue fixing them until the show opened. That's probably the only thing I have in common with that great painter. Wait. He had a famously cluttered studio. Another trait I share with him, but from pictures I've seen, his was even worse than mine.

 

This painting is in acrylic and oil over canvas and is part of the Runway series that I did a couple years ago. There are about a dozen paintings and each is 72" x 48" on canvas. This is the only one where the model floats. I wish that floating in air was something I could do.

 

I used to dream that I could. In the dreams I would jump and stay at the apex long enough that anyone watching couldn't fail to see I was hanging in air briefly.

 

In other versions of this dream I found that if I ran fast downhill and leapt into the air I could stay airborne for 100, 200 yards. Needless to say, this was exhilarating. Sometimes Riley, when she was a little girl, and I, while driving in the van, would pretend that if we concentrated hard and pulled back on the steering wheel and used the right body language we could make the car fly for as much as a quarter mile. That was great fun.

 

Back to the show. As I mentioned in my last post, it will open June 5 with a public reception from 5 to 8 that evening. It will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 through 4 through June 27. I will be there Wednesdays from 2 to 4 during the course of the exhibit to talk with anyone who would like to discuss it with me. I'm not expecting standing room only.

 

 

Above is how the painting looked before I started reworking it. Most of my effort has been on the face.

 

 

I made this version of the picture tonight using Aperture software to show how it might look if I was doing it in my current computer-manipulated mode. Pretty cool, isn't it.

 

One thing I discovered as I worked out where different paintings will be hung - artists Scott Taylor and Leo Mazzeo will do the hanging - is that it doesn't take that many big paintings before a large gallery like the Lichtenstein fills up. So I've had to go through the exercise of eliminating a lot of work I planned to show.

 

The exhibit was scheduled to coincide with my turning 80 this June. Leading up to the show I had hoped to post thoughtfully about age. But I have not so far and probably won't.

 

Babbie always ends the singing of Happy Birthday with the phrase "and many more." I asked her if she was still going to add that at my birthday party - a family affair that is probably going to be postponed until July. She plans to. That's good because I'd like to live many more if I can keep my wits about me and remain mobile.

 

Back to this painting. For the life of me I can't remember what I wrote on it and haven't had time to try to decipher the printing.

 

I should be putting the formal invitations out over the internet by Friday I guess, so here's a warning: You may be getting one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

On

 

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

 

 

V

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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