Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man
December 12. 2013
Photos and Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved
Meet The Solar System According to WGH IV, my latest painting. It's large - 48" x 82" and is acrylic on canvas. It is not stretched. Instead it will be attached to the wall through grommets I haven't inserted yet. I've been working on it off and on for several weeks. If you like it you can buy it for $1,900 . Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll even guarantee the painting. The guarantee is that you're not going to find one like it in any house or gallery you visit.
Oh, if you're wondering what that WGH IV is about, they're my initials. My full name is Winfield Grier Horner IV. And I hope you noticed that there's something unorthodox about my system.
Above is a close up and below is the painting I did before the Solar System. It too presents a view of the universe that hasn't been current for awhile. The earth in that painting is represented by the rectangle at the bottom that contains the writing.
Below is a view of the current painting from a corner of my studio. The arm on the left is in a portrait of my granddaughter Riley that I painted earlier this year. It blocks part of The Solar System because it is hung from an overhead system which puts it about 18 inches away from the wall.
December 9, 2013
Photos by Grier Horner
Anna Brahms has composed a symphony of art dolls on display at the new Whitney Gallery in Pittsfield. Her tableau of seven dolls at the Wendell Avenue gallery was so good, so imaginative that it threw me into into a semi-manic state for the rest of the First Friday Artswalk.
I say that fully realizing some readers will think my head isn't screwed on right or that I play with dolls. (Let me confess that when Riley was a little girl Babbie and I played a dolls with her often. The grandfather doll kept getting hurt falling from the roof of the doll house, where he retreated when he was in a funk. The younger dolls were always getting sick or hurting themselves, too. They were transported across the room to the hospital, where I was the emergency room doctor. I'd fix them up. But they'd always be back. I never was able to convince that ornery old man to stay off the roof.)
But I digress. All that aside, Anna Brahms creates fascinating scenes and stories with incredible dolls. According to her websites - www.dollery.com and www.annabrahms.com. They have been displayed in Christmas windows at Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York as well as at Lincoln Center's Gallery of the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and the Muse'e des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre in Paris.
Having the Dragon Woman stare down at them seems to have thrown the faerie princess and her daughter (below) into a catatonic state, a state undoubtedly helped along by the witches.
The theme for the Whit show is Whimsey. While Ms. Brahms makes a high art of that theme a number of other artists - including Pittsfield's queen of whimsy, Linda Baker-cimini - make the show extraordinary. It will be up through December. The gallerys hours are 4 to 7 Wednesdays through Fridays and noon to 5 on Saturdays.
The faerie below seems to be handling the situation like a Pre-Raphaelite heroine. If you bought the whole crew, you'd pay more than $20,000, assuming they sold for the marked price. Individually they run from $2,000 to $4,800 each.
This is a picture stolen from the internet of the artist, who studied art history at the University of Jerusalem, then spent two years travelling with a puppet troupe, making puppets and performing. After her son was born she began making dolls, selling them to a Tel Aviv gallery. The family moved to Paris and then in 1981 to America.
She lives in Conway, Massachusetts, which is on Route 116 west of Interstate 91. I used to go through it on my epic 114-mile bicycle rides from Pittsfield to Groton, Massachusetts, on the day before Thanksgiving. That was in my 50s. I don't even ride a bike anymore.
If you listen to one of her videos - here's a link - you'll hear her say that when making dolls she always starts with the head.
"Oh the face! The favorite moment is when I paint it and it becomes alive. Once I make the head I know who the character is."
Making dolls, she says, comes from "a very familiar place within me" and "seems so natural... I love to send them out into the world."
Maybe I was so dazzled by the dolls because I'm going soft but I think that the whole exhibit sets you up for a Romantic period. Here's some of the other stuff I really liked at the Whit.
This is illustrator Linda Graves painting The Angel and the Banshee which I really like. And below is a painting by Dennis Nolan, which is beautifully executed if not my cup of tea. The glass over the painting caused the various reflections.
And here is a wall of work by one of my favorite artists, Linda Baker-cimini.
December 6, 2013
I just submitted my two entries to the Museworthy art contest. Except for the second and fourth photos. I didn't submit them. In each case I simply colored great photos Fred Hatt took of Museworthy, a New York City woman who makes her living as an artists' model and who writes a fine blog on her life and art in general. Since she couldn't pose for the contestants in real life, she did the next best thing - give us four of Hatt's photos to use as a basis for our art
Needless to say she's a beauty and from what I read on her blog seems to have a lovely soul as well. If you click on the link to her blog it should bring you to her December 3 post, a reverie on Black Friday. The headline is Jesus and the Money Changers, a title she took from the El Greco painting with which she illustrates it. Here's a very brief autobiography by Museworthy:
" Girl of the city . struggles. hope. saved. seeking. baring body and soul."
She wrote it for one category in her art contest - calligrams. I didn't know what a calligram is. I just looked it up. It's a poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image of what the words express. So below you have my first calligram, which is not entered for obvious reasons. I just did it now to give you an idea of what a calligram is.
Here are two more of my doctored pictures, with apologies to Fred Hatt. . The one above is entered but the one below isn't. Although I like it a lot I thought it was too easy to do. Here's wishing myself luck in the contest. I think I'm going to be up against some pretty good artists.
December 3, 2013
Photos from Gallery Yoram Gil
Today I'm featuring four of the 31 artists represented by the innovative Gallery Yoram Gil. In late October Gallery Yoram Gil returned to the internet to bring these artists to the public's attention and sell their work. An earlier effort had gone nowhere because the site, like Obamacare's, was not a winner. But Yoram Gil has put it through an exhaustive redesign that he and his artists - I am one of them - hope will bring success.
Gil's gallery is the only one of its kind I'm aware of. It exists online only but unlike others in that category it represents a relatively small number of artists unlike the others that represents hundreds and sometimes thousands. In that respect it is like most bricks-and-mortar galleries. And Gil is trying to duplicate the traditional gallery feel by making the experience personal. He wants people to phone him to talk about the artists and the work. He offers live computer visits with the artists. And he will give you your money back if you don't like a painting you buy once it arrives at your door.
Some of the artists represented are from Israel, Gil's homeland, and some are American. Hadar Gar, who lives and paints in Pardes Hanna, Israel, is the creator of the large paintings above and below. Her oil at the top is Untitled (5-11).It is 53.5" x 82.6" and is priced at $11,500. It's depiction of a broken chain link fence makes you wonder what it kept out and what it kept in. This is not some pastoral scene. There is a tension in its prickly markings and ominous reds. Kumi, below, is 39" x 78.5" and is priced at $9,500.
In the last few years she has had solo exhibits in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Freiburg, Germany, Ein Harod, Israel, and Beverly Hills, California. About five years ago, she began painting in the cemetery of Kibbutz Ein Harod, where she was born. Her grandparents, who founded the kibbutz, are buried there.
(By now you've probably noticed the Close boxes on the upper right corner of many of the photos. On the gallery pages, from which I copied them, the box lets you close a picture after you blow it up to almost-full-screen size.
This painter is Paul Sierra who lives and works in Chicago. His Swimmer #29 , 24 " x 30", shows his fluid handling of the refraction of light on the surface of the pool and its nude swimmer. He captures the feel and beauty of the scene and makes it look effortless. It's price is $4000.
His Domestic Goddess, below, is a 2012 oil, 42" x 31", for $5500. It's more whimsical but from the expression on the goddess's face, I don't think her life is one of domestic bliss. Is she riding her magic carpet to the house or is she trying to escape?
Sierra has been active as a guest speaker/visiting artist at 13 colleges and museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Latino Museum of Art & Culture in Los Angeles. (He was born in Cuba.) In recent years he has had solo shows in museums and galleries in Chicago, Corral Gables, Champaign, Illinois and Des Plaines, Illinois.
Gary Weisman is the sculptor who has created these bronze beauties caught in states of cantilevered suspension that require a knowledge of engineering as well as art. At 63 and 68 inches they are life sized and would add a lot of class to your pool. Gil is offering them at $65,000 each. Since 2000 Weisman has had solo shows in Philadelphia, Stuben Glass in Manhattan, Santa Fe, Taipei, Taiwan, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Back in the days when Yoram Gil had a traditional gallery in the LA area, Weisman had three shows there. Weisman lives and works in Upstate New York.
I forgot to give you the titles. The sculpture above is Unasking Whispers and the one below, appropriately, is Long Thoughts.
The last artist I'm showing you today - I expect to do others in the future - is Rachel Woolf of Rosh Pina, Israel. Above is a painting with a name - Suzi IV (the great-9)- as intriguing and playful as the painting. The oil is 27.5" x 39.4" and is offered for $3000.
Below is her oil on paper, Eucalyptuses in the Rain (25), a wonderfully mood piece and one of my favorites at the gallery. From the number 25 in the title I assume this is a favorite subject in her work. At 11.8" x 15.7" it is priced at $1000. I admire the work of all four artists shown here. If you've seen anything you would like to talk about, don't hesitate to call Yoram Gil. He's a guy who loves to talk with people - especially about art. Call him. You'll make his day and - perhaps - yours.
Photos by Grier Honwe
I don't know about you, but I generally hate artists statements. I dread writing them myself. And reading them. They are usually so academic and just so many words. I don't blame artists for writing them. For exhibits, etc., they are required. Betsy Dovydenas of Lenox, an artist and friend, has come up with an artists statement I admire a great deal. In fact I think it's a brilliant self portrait of her current art and of herself.
She is currently one of three artists in an exhibit at Sanford Smith Fine Art on Railroad Street in Great Barrington. The other two artists are Larry Zingale and Pat Hogan. It will be open through January. It's very good.
In the post, however, I'm just showing Betsy's artists statement, which is something of a graphic novel, and in the process I'm leaving out her other paintings in the show as well as ignoring the other two artists - neither of whom should be ignored. In the portrait of Betsy, above, you can see how the paintings in the statement look in their frames. I have taken them out of their frames because in so many of my shots the frames are distorted by the camera angle.
So here is her statement, unabridged, in 14 monoprints in oil.
November 22, 2013
Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved
Sometimes when I look around the house, I see things that I haven't noticed before - usually the sun hitting at an angle, or through a door, that lights something up beautifully. Here are several examples. I think I used the bottom two photos before, but they fit the theme.
The first shot, which I took this week, is the sink in my bathroom. The second is my wife's sewing cabinet in the second floor hallway. I think the red was reflected from the sun light bouncing off a red radiator in the room across from it. And the last is a lamp in our bedroom, it's shade off because it is broken.
November 19, 2013
Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved
It had rained hard during the night but when I woke up yesterday the sun was shining and everything looked fresh and washed. The barberries in our untrimmed hedge were glowing and the water dripping from them glistened. I spent a long time trying to capture that: shooting and plugging the camera into the computer to see what I had. I did that over and over for about 45 minutes. I couldn't nail it. Then I decided to reverse course and see if I could show the beauty of the morning by zeroing in on a few berries instead of the hedge itself. That resulted in this picture, which I think did the job.
The great day made me think of a song that I liked in high school - Oh Happy Day. It turns out it has a colorful history, as Wikipedia says:
Oh Happy Day was one of the first pop hits whose momentum was driven by the high school teen set. Described as a "garage hit," before the song was recorded, Don Howard Kaplow sang it accompanied by his guitar before his classmates at Cleveland Heights High School, in Cleveland, Ohio. At a Saturday high school dance, the boys and girls called 13 times for Oh Happy Day. This convinced Koplow to put the song on wax. Once it was played on the air, teenage fans besieged the disc jockey, Phil McLean of radio station WERE with requests that kept him spinning the song all week. Calls began coming in from nearby cities, and it was decided the record should go to market. A contract was signed in early November 1952 and Oh Happy Day went on sale. Upon release by a brand new record company (Triple A), 21,000 copies quickly sold around Cleveland. Then the record was leased to another label (Essex) for national distribution. By February 1953, it was pushing the half-million mark.
Time Magazine reported in 1953 that Oh Happy Day had a "folklike origin: Donnie heard it sung by an Ohio State girlfriend, who had picked it up on the campus. Donnie worked it out on his guitar, changed it a bit, wrote some lyrics, sang it at parties and prudently got it copyrighted.." Six weeks later, while Oh Happy Day was still on the pop charts, the Washington Post reported that Nancy Binns Reed, a 28 year old housewife, had filed a lawsuit to prove that she wrote the song. Represented by Lee Eastman (father of Linda McCartney), a New York copyright and show business attorney, Mrs. Reed obtained affidavits from persons who had heard her singing the song when serving as a counselor at various camps and when she attended the University of California in the 1940s. She stated that many campers and high school and college friends had learned the song. The lawsuit resulted in an out of court cash settlement along with an agreement that Mrs. Reed and Mr. Kaplow share equal credit for the song's words and music.Music Views magazine reported in its June 1953 edition that Kaplow's girlfriend had graduated from a girl's camp, where Ms. Reed had served as a counselor.
Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved
How far do these paintings and the construction on the right jut out into the gallery?
That was my first question when I looked at the large paintings by Warner Friedman and works in wood by Michael Zelehoski on Saturday night at the Berkshire Museum.
The answer is that they are all absolutely flat against the wall. I found that hard to believe. Friedman's paintings on this wall jerked me around, interfered with my balance. Welcome to the Berkshire Museum's new show Exquisite Illusion.
Friedman's shaped canvases with their architectural elements forward and perspective working overtime made me think at first that each was mounted with one edge against the wall and the other one or two feet away from it. In this painting, White Pine, I believed the right edge was off the wall.
By the time I got over to Zelehoski's monumental Untitled, above, I was prepared to believe the work - assembled from wood from an old ice house - was flat. I paced it off and it's about 30 feet long. And I realized that the museum's executive director, Van Shields, who was the curator, had picked two amazing illusionists and in the process mounted one of the Berkshire Museum's finest shows. Shows that pull you in, make your heart beat faster and your mind swirl have occurred with a frequency that would make much larger art institutions jealous. Among these were David Henderson's soaring A Brief History of Aviation in 2012 and Henry Klimowicz' Constructs in 2011, with its heroic cardboard disc called Bright Star. The curator for both was Maria Mingalone, the museum's director of interpretation.
Here is another Zelehoski work, Optimus Prime. It almost looks like he just nailed a pallet to the painted plywood. But what he's done, brilliantly, is take a pallet apart , cut its pieces and inlay them in their plywood support so they're flush with its surface. That may sound easy but it's not. When you see a board's edge, that's not really its edge, it's another piece of inserted wood. The boards in front only look like they're in front. I'm sure you see how clever the pallet's reconstruction is.
A Berkshire native, Zelehoski went to Bard College at Simons Rock and got his BA from Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago, Chicago. His studio is in Beacon, New York. He's getting some attention. Steven Mesler in a piece in the Huffington Post predicted he would be the "next great artist." He has had two solo shows in New York City galleries and one at the Volta NY art fair in SoHo.
Friedman, born in 1935 (my year, too). His work has been show in San Francisco, New York and Boca Raton, among other places. His studio, a former church, is in Sheffield. Trained as an engineer, he turned to art, enrolling at the Cooper Union in New York.
On the left is Friedman's homage to Ellsworth Kelly and on the right Zelehoski's Ladder.
A second show at the museum, Radical Traditionalism. teams two area-based painters, Janet Rickus and Colin Brant. It is curated by artist and critic, Carol Diehl. I plan to show you work from that one, too.
Exquisite Illusion, which fills two galleries, runs through January 2. But to see it best get there before they put up the Festival of Trees, which will fill the centers of both galleries, and opens November 23.Below are photos of four more of the works you will see. The first and third are by Zelehoski, the second and last by Friedman.
November 8, 2013
At the Williams College Museum of Art even the ivy on the institutions brick wall is artistic. This is contemporary sculpture in its extraordinary sweep and power. I wonder if they trained it that way or if it simply followed its own course. I didn't think to ask.
The paintings above and below are from the facility's impressive show Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980. The fascinating piece above, Apparitional Visitations, is by Suzanne Jackson. It is 54" x 72", was painted in 1973 with acrylic wash on canvas. Mississippi by Charles White, below, is an early civil rights piece. Its compass points are all askew, as was the nation's racial compass.
Tying in nicely with Now Dig This, is the adjoining show 72 Degrees: LA Art from the Collection. Edward Kienholz amuzingly titled piece Bunny, Bunny, You're So Funny (above) from 1962 is one of the works in that exhibit.
This painting of a soldier giving the Heil Hitler salute is by Anselm Kiefer and is part of the museum's Early Anselm Kiefer exhibit which closes December 22. It was timed to compliment the opening of the new Anselm Kiefer building at MASS MoCA in North Adams. Born in the final days of World War II, Kiefer was trying to get the nation to face up to what havoc it had wreaked. Both MoCA and the Williams Museum of Art draw their pieces from the Hall Foundation. If found the art books Kiefer had made the most interesting part of the exhibit. The books themselves are protected by glass so you can't turn the pages. But look for the small reproductions of the books under the table and you can go through what's in each book.
Getting to the museum from Spring Street go through a passageway that has windows that open onto the Williams pool. At about 4 in the afternoon there was a lone swimmer in the facility.
Friday was one of those overcast November days where the sun breaks through frequently for a few minutes. It was a day where there was some hail and some snow - I think it was the first we've had this season - and a cold wind. Below is a shot I took from outside the museum looking south. We got a coffee and some pastries at Tunnel City and then headed over to the Clark, which is free this time of year, but because of the construction of its new wing has a very limited amount of art to see. The pieces are housed in three galleries at the Clark's Stone Hill art restoration site just uphill of the museum. There you can see works by Homer, Sargent, Gainsboro, Renoir and others.
We took the excursion with Babbie's sister Carol and Joerg. They are the parents of the entrepreneur Eric Haeberli whose amazing jams can be purchased through welovejam.com. His "jam" label is going great guns on the West Coast. And they are also the parents of Peter, a patent attorney whose three kids love playing Three Little Pigs with him. He, of course, is the big bad wolf.
November 5, 2013
They Dance for Rain
This is one of the teeming slums of Nairobi, Kenya, a city where over half the population lives in neighborhoods like this one, plagued by violence, disease, joblessness and many children who live on the street.
It is here that two local women, Stefanie Weber and Monika Pizzichemi, one passionate about tap dancing and the other about photography, have brought tap dancing to kids and professional dancers alike with their project They Dance for Rain. Stefanie last winter gave lessons to both the kids and pros and Monika photographed it all. And they will do it again this winter. Their goal: To bring " joy. visibility and a new generation of artists in Nairobi."
They don't come to Kenya empty handed but with tap shoes that they give to enthusiastic dancers like Monicah Mbithe, above, and Josephina, an orphan, below. This can mean a lot to kids whose toys are often improvised from junk.
Stefanie, a tap phenomenon and philosopher, is seen below as she instructed a class last winter. These and many more wonderful photos by Monica are on display during the month of November at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts at 28 Renne Avenue in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The Lichtenstein is open from 12 to 5 Wednesdays through Saturdays. The pictures will warm your heart and if you buy one that will warm the women's hearts. They will use the money to help finance the duo's return trip this winter. They also welcome donations that can be made here. In addition Lynda Strauch of the Wit Gallery at 27 Church St. in Lenox has announced she is donating 10% of the price of art purchased there during November and December to the duo and said customers, in whose name the money will be given, will get a 10% discount on the art as well. Monika is the Wit's manager.
Here's Monika taking a quick note during last Friday's opening of They Dance for Rain at the Lichtenstein.
Photo by Grier Horner
It all started two years ago when Stefanie visited her friend Holly in Nairobi. She was feeling that what she does is undervalued in our society and was thinking about doing something that would have more of an impact on mankind, like following Holly's career path with an NGO that is funneling food into Somalia. Stefanie makes her living giving dance lessons, performance and choreography and teaching at CATA, a South Berkshire organization that uses the arts to help its clients.
Holly was the right person to talk to about her discontent.
"Stefanie, here they dance for rain," Holly told her.
"That stopped me," Stefanei said. The idea that dance and song were a strong part of culture's like Kenya's made her see, Stefanie said, "that I am a part of something bigger, something that matters."
When she got to Nairobi, a neighbor of Holly's, Eric Wainaina, who is a well-known Kenyan musician, introduced her to four arts-for-social-change organizations. She ended up giving lessons at three of them. "It was kind of overwhelming," she said. "The kids were very enthusiastic" - which often is not the case with students here. "They wanted me to stay in Kenya."
She didn't stay but has gone back twice with Monika joining her and with Monika's photos helping spread the word and give a face to people who live in anonymity . This winter, Stefanie and Monika, longtime friends, will have their longest Kenyan adventure. Stefanie plans on arriving December 18 and Monika arriving just after the first of the year. They will be there until January 24.
Here Stefanie gives a private lesson to a young pro, Adam Lucas, and below Antony Kimani shows off what he has learned.
"Jazz and tap are really American," Stefanie said. "They didn't exist any place else. They came from slavery, from oppression."
While the Kenyans haven't had exposure to tap, she said, they are open to it because of their percussive traditions and love of dancing.. She was showing one man a series of steps when he said, "Oh, I know that rhythm."
"So it's come full circle. Here's an American vernacular art form that's being taken to people who say, 'Oh, I know that rhythm.' "
You can see Monika's video of the project by clicking this link.
When Elizabeth put her new shoes on her head, Stefanie was thrilled to think the woman was incorporating them into her culture, where women carry loads in this fashion.
Let's get back to the smiles of delight over their new tap shoes. Above we've got Benjamin Mutunga and below Josephat Gushu.
And here to end this piece is the beaming Nelius Muthone with Monika reflected in part in the mirror at the left.
November 1, 2013, Part 1
I finished this painting yesterday and named it October 31, 2013 (Is the Earth Flat). It's big: 82" x 57". It was done with acrylic and pastel on canvas. The three heavenly bodies are Mars, the sun and the moon. It's a continuation of my circle series.
Here is a detail shot of the red circle in the center of the sun. I made it by wrapping dark blue cord from the Rice Silk Mill around in a circle (of sorts). I thought it would be easy but it took forever and as you can see it didn't come out perfectly. But maybe that fits the character of the painting, which is not striving for perfection. Not by a long shot. Babbie says it looks amateurisj. I would prefer loose.
Above is a shot that takes in the edge of Mars, one of the yellow circles and the cord attached to the surface. Below is the surface of the moon.
November 1, 2013, Part 2
Photos by Babbie Horner/All Rights Reserved
Babbie and I bought two pumpkins yesterday morning and later Babbie picked up these two masks for $1 each. We only got four kids this year. The first girl, dressed as a beautiful queen, was coming down the walk when she saw me in the window and turned around abruptly to leave. Her father had to persuade her it was OK to come to our house.
I'm glad he did because this kid makes me happy in the summer when she rides her bike past our house singing.
Babbie and I make a lovely couple, don't you think? It's obvious that she has taken very good care of her tooth. On the other hand it looks as if I didn't brush and floss. As for the pumpkins, they both are illuminated by candles. Babbie's, the white one, is called a peanut pumpkin because it is encrusted with growths that look like peanuts.
Then there are the on-line galleries that represent hundreds or even thousands of artists. On these sites, Yoram says, art is treated as a commodity
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