Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man
March 11, 2014
The first time i ran pictures of Trisha Leydet was February 25. After that some of you were wondering why I don't run photos of the aspiring Pittsfield model all the time. So here are some more. And there will be another batch in the near future.
Trisha's standing in front of one of my Jeanne d'Arc paintings above and in front of my painting of Craig Walker on Silver Lake in the shot below. She's wearing some pretty wild shoes.
Here she's looking into mirror that used to hang in a cool downtown store that unfortunately closed.
"Surrender to what is
Let go of what was
Have faith in what will be"
March 7, 2014
Leo Mazzeo has taken a bold new approach to displaying art in The Marketplace Cafe next to the Beacon Cinema on North Street, Pittsfield. The previous shows I've seen there have featured relatively small work which could get lost in a bustling eating place. Leo's idea was to go big.
So if you go to First Fridays Artswalk from 5 to 8 tonight, try to wend your way to this cafe. The exhibiting artists besides Leo and me are Nick DeCandia, Susan Geller and Judith Lerner. All the work features food. High on the wall, from left to right in the photo, is my new painting The Goldfinch on Tart; Nick's delicious eating shot, Untitled; Leo's high-impact Grazin'Fondly, a tribute to a memorable meal with his late partner, Aimee Thayer, at the Grazin Diner; and, out of sight to the right, Susan's mouth-watering Raspberry Hamentaschen. Below these works are a half dozen fine photos by Judith from her Berkshire food paradox series. Her shot behind the seated customer is of a sign that says "Free Lunch Today." But patrons shouldn't take it literally.
When Leo drafted me to participate, I had no idea what food to paint. Then I saw a red berry tart in the Marketplace's goodies display. I bought it, photographed it, ate it and eventually put it in the painting. But I wanted more than a tart. I found the more in Donna Tartt's great new novel The Goldfinch, which featured Carel Fabritius' extraordinary painting (below) which played a major role in her book as well as supplying its title. So the painting is a pun with it's play on the words tart and Tartt, as well as an homage to the painter and the novelist whose books I love.
At the time Fabritius did the painting, goldfinches were popular house pets. Some were taught tricks such as lowering a thimble into a glass to draw their own drinking water. As you can see, this little bird is attached to its perch by a chain. It was my first painting in oil in a long time. Trying to copy Fabritius' bird, I realized I have no career as a forger. But in the process I learned tremendous respect for this artist.
Fabritius was killed in the He painted it in 1654, shortly before he died in the explosion of the Delft powder magazine – a disaster which destroyed a large part of the city. He was only 32 and had finished The Goldfinch shortly before the explosion. The painting survived that catastrophe as well as a fictional terrorist bombing at the Met in the book.
Tonight I'm going to be anchored to the Marketplace for some time, but am going to get over to Forty Shades of Green at the Lichtenstein. I think one of my paintings is included in this tribute to Ireland.
March 1, 2014
This is one of my favorite paintings. I painted it in 1999 in acrylic when I was taking a painting class with Lisa Griffith at Berkshire Community College. And then I painted over the original in 2005 in oil. It's a take-off on Damien Hirst's famous shark in formaldehyde. I call it Anita and the Polar Bears. Anita was my model for the woman with the great what's-this-all-about gesture.
This is not the first time I've shown it on Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man. I never get tired of it. I hope you don't either. Anita lived at Cripple, the Yoga center and retreat in Stockbridge.
Kripalu was founded in Pennsylvaia in 1972 by Yorgi Amrit Desai. Ten years later the ashram purchased Shadowbrook, a former Jesuit monestary in Stockbridge. By 1989 it had 350 full-time residents. Five years later Desai was forced out after he was accused of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Within years Kripalu reinvented itself as a secular non-profit Yoga center, a role it still plays.
In 1994, Desai was accused of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. The ashram was shut down by the scandal. But Kripalu continued to welcome visitors, and in 1999, it formally changed its status from a religious organization to a secular nonprofit.
February 25, 2014
These are shots of Trisha Leydet, a model I worked with Sunday. We took 900 shots. She's great and we had a good shoot. But frustratingly, because I have a new camera, I've only been able to import a few into my photo processing system so far. I called both Nikon and Apple for help yesterday and I thought the problem was solved but it turned out it isn't.
I'll be showing you more photos of the 23-year-old in another blog once this is cleared up.
The photo at the top is the image of her face in a mirror. I like the soft focus the mirror provided. The face behind her is from a print of Red Cloud.
Below she is in front of one of my paintings. It hangs from the wall by pushpins inserted through grommets. It weighs a lot less that way than if it had a wooden stretcher. Last week I shipped an unstretched piece larger than this one to Boston for just $30.99 cents. A stretched piece would have cost a lot more.
Going from beauty to the beast, I'm stitting here at my computer huddled in a blanket because the room is 57. It's not that we're trying to save money on heat, it's that the furnace is on the fritz. Fortunately this house has two furnaces, one steam that heats the old part of the house and one hot water for the addition where I'm working. So the rest of the house is nice and warm.
Red Cloud, by the way, was a warrior and a statesman. Here's a thumbnail sketch by NPR of his long life. He lived until he was 88.
"Much of Red Cloud's early life was spent at war, first and most often against the neighboring Pawnee and Crow, at times against other Oglala. Beginning in 1866, Red Cloud orchestrated the most successful war against the United States ever fought by an
Indian nation. The army had begun to construct forts along the Bozeman Trail, which ran through the heart of Lakota territory in present-day Wyoming to the Montana gold fields from Colorado's South Platte River. As caravans of miners and settlers began to cross the Lakota's land, Red Cloud was haunted by the vision of Minnesota's expulsion of the Eastern Lakota in 1862 and 1863. So he launched a series of assaults on the forts, most notably the crushing defeat of Lieutenant Colonel William Fetterman's column of eighty men just outside Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, in December of 1866. The garrisons were kept in a state of exhausting fear of further attacks through the rest of the winter.
"Red Cloud's strategies were so successful that by 1868 the United States government had agreed to the Fort Laramie Treaty. The treaty's remarkable provisions mandated that the United States abandon its forts along the Bozeman Trail and guarantee the Lakota their possession of what is now the Western half of South Dakota, including the Black Hills, along with much of Montana and Wyoming.
February 18, 2014
In 2011 Leo Mazzeo lived in a strange art world, one where the people were naked but not sexy, where they could fly in a flock (as below), where they persevered (above) but not one, as far as I can see, where they could catch a break or even smile in their harsh, regimented society a dystopia if I ever saw one.
The paintings are arresting and disturbing and force you to try to figure out what's going on. I thought they represented life after Armageddon. But Leo says that's not the case. The year was a transitional one for him, difficult and troubling, and this work was "both cathartic and draining."
Those paintings are on display through March 1 at the at The Whitney Center for the Arts, 42 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, during regular gallery hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 to 7 and Saturday from 12-5PM.
This series was a major departure from his previous work which included the truck below and he has not continued the series. his ambitious arts indie blog and His new curatorial role at the Colt Gallery - the smaller of two art exhibition spaces at the Whitney - haven't left much time for putting oil down on canvas.
" I've been kind of ruminating about what I really want to do (in art)," Leo said, assuming he can make time for it.
The painting of the man above, "Frustration/Why," one of Mazzeo's best, has been sold.
This is Leo Mazzeo, who is also a photographer, with Sue Geller, another local photographer. The picture was taken by Karen Schiltz, whose webpage is being built by Leo. Below is Blue Dancers Too. The opening, by the way, was last Saturday, which was Leo's 51st birthday.
Commenting about the series, Leo says, "I kept the landscapes simple to emphasize what was thematically happening in each tableau. The figures are nude, bald, and relatively generic/androgynous to enhance universal identification with the subject matter. The texture appears on the highlights of the bodies because, well, we all look a little gritty in the light…"
How would you like to be getting your marching orders from the men sitting on the wall in the painting above - Censorship-Hypocrisy.
In To Dance, above, with its hinged panel on he left, life isn't a picnic. Looking at it I think about how joyless the dance lessons were in gym in 7th grade - at least for me. The girls' gym teacher would line up the boys at one end of the gym and the girls at the other. When she blew her whistle the boys were supposed to race to pick a dance partner. I lagged behind. There were a couple girls I would like to ask to dance, but I was too shy. If you didn't make a choice, you were assigned someone to dance with. I'm sure it was an agony of embarrassment for some of the girls, too. I'm afraid this remembrance could be seen as trivializing Leo's painting. It is not meant that way. This series is not trivial.
February 13, 2014
Renoir, my movie, continues. We left off last time when Jean Renoir had stomped off to go "to the Louvre," leaving his grumpy father to rearrange the way his two nude models were posed himself.
Why the machine gunners? Because the Gilles Bourdos movie took place during World War I. Jean, played by Vincent Rottiers, had been wounded and while convalescing at home fell for Andree Heuchling, Renoirs spirited last model. She is played by Christa Theret, who appears in the photo collage. Jean decides he must return to his battalion - much to the consternation of Renoir and Andree.
When Jean returned from the war he married Andree and fulfilled his promise to make her a star in the movies. She took the film name of Catherine Hessling.
Below is a photo of her from those days.
Jean Renoir when on to become one of the great directors in movie history. The following is taken from the Turner Classic Movies website, tmc.com.
"The sale of some of his father's paintings (Auguste Renoir had died in 1919) allowed him to begin production on "Catherine/Une Vie sans joie" in 1924. Renoir provided the screenplay and Albert Dieudonne the direction; Renoir's young wife Andree Madeleine Heuchling, a former model of his father's, was the star, with her name changed to Catherine Hessling for billing purposes. Renoir's first film as director, "La Fille de l'eau," was shot in 1924, with Renoir also functioning as producer and art director and Catherine Hessling again starring. Anticipating Jean Vigo's "L'Atalante" (1934), the film's plot centered on a young woman who lives and works on a river boat. It's modest success led Renoir to plunge, somewhat impulsively, into the direction of "Nana" (1926), an adaptation from the Zola novel which now looks uncharacteristically stagebound.
"Nearly bankrupt, Renoir had to take out a loan to finance his next film, "Charleston" (1927), a 24-minute fantasy that featured Hessling teaching the popular title dance in costumes that were as brief as possible. After it attained only limited success, Renoir accepted a straight commercial directing job on "Marquitta" (1927).
"Renoir's next significant film was "Tire-au-Flanc" (1928), a military comedy that Francois Truffaut would later call a visual "tour de force" and which marked the director's first collaboration with actor Michel Simon. The working relationship between Renoir and Hessling, meanwhile, had taken its toll; the couple separated in 1930, though Hessling continued to appear in Renoir's films through "Crime et chatiment/" "Crime and Punishment" (1935)."
It's almost 3 a.m. and I have to go to bed. If I get time I'll see what else I can find out about Renoir and Hessling.
February 9, 2014
I decided yesterday to do a remake of the movie Renoir, which is very lush and sensuous. It was released last year. Directed by Gilles Bourdos and shot by cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee, each frame is sumptuous. It stars Christa Theret as Renoir's last model. Like the movie, she is also lush and sensuous. She'll star in my version too.
That's her back above and me shooting the thing. Renoir is telling his son Jean, who's recovering from a war wound and preparing to return to the front, to add some white to the pallet. Both Renoir and his son, who went on to become a great film maker, fall for the model.
Here's Christa Theret in black and white - which is my choice for the coloring of this shot.
Here Christa, foreground, poses with another member of the family circle. Renoir has told Jean that if he doesn't understand what the artist is trying to do with this painting he should go to the Louvre and study the masters. Jean starts walking away. "Where are you going?" Renoir calls after him. "To the Louvre!", Jean says.
In another scene Renoir tells his son that the most important thing in painting and in life is "Flesh!" Below she asks Renoir if he is always like this. "Like what?" he asks. "Grumpy," she says.
In another scene Christa eats a pear. I'll tell you more about my movie another time.
February 5, 2014
This would be one of my best paintings. But it isn't a painting. It's a photo I took on January 1, 2000. I'd forgotten all about it and just stumbled on it last night in my Aperture files, tucked away in Our House, where the other shots in this post also come from.
I'm not sure what the first photo was a picture of. But I love it. The one below is another wonderful painting, only it is a photo of a glass.
Now this one with the white light and the blue light I think was a shot I took of one of our night lights.
What this was a shot of escapes me.
February 2, 2014
I was up on the fifth floor of the Big Mac the other day and took the shots above and below as the fast-sinking sun painted this chimney and the facades of the Charles Street buildings an intense white.
I had seen a nuerologist who said there was nothing wrong with me. I wish I had told him, "No, there is something wrong with me but the doctors I've seen aren't sharp enough to figure out what it is."
Whatever it is It's not life threatening: but for 1 1/2 years I've been getting spells that leave me weak, confused, unable to think, feeling starved and sometimes shaking. They last a couple hours and go away. I go through periods where they occur almost every day. But they've come only once a month or so lately. Anyway I've had all sorts of tests that show I'm in perfect health. So I can understand why the neurologist tells me I'm fine, even though I'm not.
In any case the cubbyhole in which I was waiting had windows so I took photos. I can't remember why some personnel at Berkshire Medical Center call it the Big Mac. But its a cool name for the large centralized collection of doctors' offices and other medical facilities.
This picture of the late afternoon sun casting long shadows was taken on another day from my house.
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