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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

August 1, 2014

Ian Grey's portraits grace the long corridor at MountainOne Bank in North Adams in a show, Elements, that opened yesterday as part of the city's monthly Downstreet Art Thursday festival. Started a year ago, the goal of his project, Grey says, "is to take an element from each person's life and use it to create a unique portrait."

 

 

The self-taught photographer says these are pictures of "everyday people who are courageous and adventurous enough to bare a part of themselves for my camera." That person in the shot at the top of this post is Katie Mahaney. And the one with the scarf is Darcie Sosa. Below the two talk at the opening. Ms. Sosa is on the right with Ms. Mahaney's portrait over her shoulder.

 

 

This is a shot of Phyllis Criddle wearing one of the dresses she sells at MASS MoCA, where she is head of museum shop. She is showing at least two "elements" for Grey's camera - the dress and the tattoos, both works of artistry. (I did a post on her dresses on March 19, which you can scroll down to without leaving this page.)

Here Ian Grey talks with a woman who was admiring his work.

 

In "The Light of Dreams," Grey creates a gauzy atmosphere that makes the beautiful woman all the more dramatic.

 

Liz Bissell, vice president of marketing at MountainOne, makes a point at the opening. The bank, she said, created the hallway gallery to enliven the long corridor that leads from Main Street to the parking lot.

 

In Arms of Love Grey offers a tender shot of father and daughter. And below in Taken Grey introduces a touch of theatrical comedy. (While the pictures are protected by non-glare glass, some glare occurs in some of the photographs.) His exhibit is up until late August. He's a photographer doing top notch work from his home on Florida Mountain. You may have seen the shots he takes of hummingbirds that was shown last month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 30, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Who knew 50 people could make so much noise with paper and create so many varied sounds: marching, raining, chanting, chattering, shooting, shuffling, clapping, flocking. It would rise to a tumultuous rhythmic commotion and fade to a surprising silence as the performers streamed in  diverging and merging lines and configurations.

Ann Hamilton knew you could make music with paper and yesterday she staged the world premiere of Page Sounding in a section of MASS MoCA that I had never seen before on a courtyard of the former factory that I had never seen before. (There is a lot more space in this contemporary art museum to expand - a lot more.) In the photo above the white-haired artist is congratulating the performers. It was Hamilton who in 2004 converted the huge main gallery into a snowfield as falling sheets of paper collected on the floor in her popular Corpus (below).

 

 

Yesterday's performance was part of the museum's 13th annual Bang on a Can summer music festival. And the people dressed in paper and equipped with paper mitts and paper scrolls were Bang on a Cans fellows and faculty.

 

 

These are the mitts they wore and used as cymbals. Made of stiff, handmade abaca paper, the company produced noise by waving them, clapping them together and slapping them against their paper costumes. The costumes themselves rustled and crinkled when their wearers moved. When the performance about paper and communication began, it communicated the wrong message to a baby in his mother's arms and he started crying. She had to carry him out. Afterwards she said that he hadn't cried at the terrific noise of an 80-foot tree falling by their house. But I could understand how the uncanny noise of the paper could scare him.

 

The crowd was enthusiastic, joining in the sound making by rattling their programs.

 

In the end the participants ripped up some of the paper, balled it up and threw it in the air. Below a smiling couple exits across the paper - strewn floor. Like a number of people she appears to have picked up a piece of the paper as a memento. Many in the audience lingered after the show, happy to congregate and talk about what they had witnessed..

 

 

This was my second Bang on a Can performance in a week and only the third since it started 10 years ago. I didn't know what I was missing. Last week i became very enthusiastic about the festivalf, mesmerized by the synthesizer duo of Vicky Ray and Aron Kallay. For their last piece of powerful atonal music they utilized 100 piano tunings. I didn't know there are different tunings for pianos, just as there are for guitars. They had all hundred plugged into their computers so they could change from one to another by simply hitting a special key. In this picture they are nearing the end, having hit the 98th tuning. And below they end with a dramatic flourish, pounding their forearms into the keyboard.

The Bang on a Can Festival, which started July 16, ends with performances every day through Saturday. Saturday's parting gift is a six- hour marathon by 50 musicians and composers, including chamber music with Wilco drummer Glenn Katche and Steve Reich's newest composition, Radio Rewrite, a remix of two songs by Radiohead. For information about the remaining sessioins, go to massmoca.org.

 

As you can undoubtedly tell, this is a composite shot made of two photographs.

 

 

 

 

July 28, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner

Lucy MacGillis has just had her twelfth show at the Hoadley Gallery in Lenox and as usual a lot of her paintings were sold. In the month it was up, collectors bought 14, said Stephanie Hoadley of the Church Street business. I don't ordinarily start a post about an art show with sales figures. But MacGillis's success is noteworthy. Most exhibits in the Berkshires don't have results that approach hers. Sales of her work, along with art seminars she offers, support her life as an artist in Umbria. The workshops she's giving this summer are at PS187 in Stockbridge and in Vienna and Germany.

After the Pittsfield native graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000 she went to Italy on a University Scholars grant - and stayed.

"My life is holistic here. Vito (her young son) and I go for walks in the olive groves around the house, we make treasure hunts, collect pine cones. I make my own olive oil, eat good food, enjoy local wines," she said in a fine interview last year with Larry Groff in his art blog - Painting Perceptions. If you like her work it think you'll find that post gives valuable insights into the artist and how she works.

I'm a big fan of Lucy's work. The one above, Cupcake di Carote, is one of my favorites. My eye was drawn immediately to the brilliantly executed mortar and pestle in the middle of the painting and then takes a tour of the rest of it's sunlit surface.

 

 

This year I thought that I'd show you the MacGillis exhibit in context, which will also give you a better idea of the gallery itself and how her art and these surroundings come together so harmoniously. Thomas Hoadley, the other half of the owning couple, is an artist whose ceramics are available here as is work by a number of people turning out fine pottery, art glass and jewelry.

 

In the interview Groff asked MacGillis if her career had been helped or hindered by not having a studio in New York.

"I'm grateful for the distance I have from the New York Art world," MacGillis said. "I'm generally not comfortable around the business of art...I figure if I'm doing anything worthwhile, New York will find me."

Waiting to be discovered isn't usually the way to get into New York galleries. Maybe it will work for her. But in the meantime she is an art star in the Berkshires and in her circle in Italy and one of the few artists I know personally who supports herself through her art.

MacGillis doesn't do many portraits, but this one, Lanzano, is very strong.

 

Umbria seems to be her natural habitat as an artist. "Everything I see inspires me here," she told me a few years ago. "The compositions that I see in my rearview mirror even on
banal errands to the industrial zone, fascinate me. I am constantly seeing colors that make me want to paint.".

*There is a point at which I become so immersed in painting, total self abandonment," she told Groff. "Here I’m in this sort of hypnosis of looking, mixing, looking and laying down marks."

 

The colors she loves in Umbria are the ones you see in these paintings, the earth tones that she uses so well and applies to her canvases with such energy. She paints her landscapes outdoors, rather than in the studio.

"The experience of being physically in the landscape I’m painting is important, the heat, the smells, the sounds of the nearby sheep, the train’s distant horn, the light. I’m convinced that it all plays into the feel of the painting and I react to all this," she said in the Groff interview.

 

 

Her painting of roadside trees casting shadows hangs above a rack of scarves.

 

Wall space in the gallery is limited, so even the bathroom has been utilized. One of these was sold, but I'm not sure which one.

I'm sorry this post comes after the show is down. I've been tied up in my own art and have been falling behind on the blog. Where I used to be pretty faithful about posting every other day, week-long gaps (and worse) have been cropping up on the Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man.

 

 

 

July 21, 2014

A visitor looks at Casey Krawczyk 's masterful, brooding self-portrait.  To it's left is Lucifer by Michael Rousseau, another phenomenal figure painter. All photos by Grier Horner

 

A large new art museum has sprung up in North Adams and in a county rich with museums it plans to fill a void by devoting itself to the work of Berkshire artists. Started and financed by Eric Rudd, a North Adams artist and developer, and directed by Keith V. Shaw, a respected art critic and teacher, the Rudd Art Museum (RAM) will provide major space for the works of its founder but will also devote lots of room to showing work by other Berkshire artists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make this happen, the Eric and Barbara Rudd Foundation bought the former First United Methodist Church. Large and imposing it is located at the top of Main Street across from the library.

RAM's first show, Figuring In, opened several weeks ago and it signals that this is a project that needs to be taken seriously. "With this exhibit we announce our arrival," says Shaw. He has a right to sound proud, having put together a show that is packed with strong work by a dozen artists from Cheshire, Great Barrington, Lenox, North Adams, Pittsfield, South Lee and Williamstown.

 

This is the church former Methodist Church that gives the new museum tons of gallery space. One of Rudd's seething sculptures is caged in front along with another out of sight to its left.

 

The first space that will open to house Rudds work is the spacious, high-ceilinged cellar. This is just one of a number of large underground galleries that will provide a permanent collection for Rudd's work. The pieces above are from 1966-67. This is Rudd's second museum. In 2001 he bought the much smaller Unitarian Church on Summer Street and named it the Chapel for Humanity.

The photo below shows an installation he is building in the main section of the Methodist Church. It looks like it will be awhile before this part is ready to open.

 

Above is a 1981 portrait by David Zaig of North Adams. It was obviously inspired by Chuck Close in its mammoth size and see-every-whisker realism. But it is more soulful than most of Close's portraits. Below is another Michael Rousseau, this one La Petite Mort. Drawing on two classic sculptures, he comes up with a totally contemporary and compelling piece.

 

In his striking Woman and Man,  William Oberst of North Adams gives both the pale woman and the recessed man expressions that give very little away in this enigmatic oil. It's easy at first glance to almost miss the man, who stares out at us rather than looking at her. Does this inscrutable whiteness playing a symbolic role as in the whitness of the whale in Moby Dick? Does she represent death. Or am I just trying to sound intelligent.

This nude, Red, by Kris Galli of Lenox looks so natural she almost breaths. Below  is an installation view in one of the museum's galleries that will have revolving shows. You've already seen the Oberst and the Galli. Then comes a nude by Rousseau and a charming Conjurer by Julia Morgan-Leamon of Williamstown, which is shown larger in a following photo.

 

 

 

Joel Rudnick of Williamstown  sets the mood in this 1968 painting, Psyche Forlorn, by dramatic use of the light coming in from a kerosene lamp she's holding and from an unseen window high on the right .

I love Morgan-Leamon's Tipping Point below for the pure joy of the girl's jumping from the raft they have intentionally overloaded at one end to make it tip.

 Death enters the picture in the late Viola Rose Moriarty's Portrait of Peter May. The Bennington painter died last year in her mid-50s. RAM is staging a special exhibition of her paintings in yet unused space in the Upper Gallery. The reception is July 31 from 5 to 8 in conjunction with North Adams' second Downstreet Art festival of the season.

 

While most of the work in this exhibit was done with paint and brushes, Paul Chojnowski of Cheshire burns and scorches his images into wood - like this one, Search Light - or paper. I've been in awe of his blowtorch technique for years. Below is Lisa Griffith's Gray Gown. The woman defined by the gown, which is made of abaca paper, Cell-U-Clay and pine needles, is headed for a fall. Griffith is the head of the Studio Art department at Berkshire Community College, where I took several classes with her. Keith Shaw, the museum director, also teaches art history and western civilization as an adjunct professor at BCC. As he puts it, "I'm not giving up my day job."

 

 

Another artist using unlikely material to is Brent Whitney of Lanesborough. He laboriously fashioned his yellow Posterior Dispenser, above, out of pressboard and then lacquered it. You would swear it was a made of metal and mass produced in a factory. There is a warning light just above the slot in the sculpture. For a long time I couldn't see why Shaw had put it in this show about the human figure. It finally dawned on me that this represents the lower back and "posterior" of a person and the title suddenly injected humor into the work. Next to it is another Rousseau.

The photo also shows that even upstairs you can't escape the fact that not long ago this was a church.

 

Above is Meryl Joseph's Majwah, Desert Queen done in 2001. You may remember her as the woman who bought the Howard Block on First Street in Pittsfield in hopes of converting it to live-in studios for artists. While she was unable to pull it off, contractor David Tierney Jr. has converted it into handsome apartments. Joseph shared a dream with Rudd who had successfully converted his Eclipse Mill in North Adams into 40 live-in artists lofts. That was a major step in bringing artists to North Adams. Rudd has also reportedly been very successful building housing in Mexico.

Doug Paisley of WIlliamstown has had a very confident and distinctive touch in his Confidence Man series. Look out. This guy might try to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. One of the paintings in the series was a big hit at a group show at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield earlier this year. In addition, Paisley currently has a Confidence Man solo show at a downtown gallery in North Adams.

 

In Leo Mazzeo's startling Perseverance, stylized people scramble up a rocky hillside. . Shaw has given the 2011 painting a prominent position in the first gallery.

 

Climbing the stairs to the Upper Gallery you are greeted by another of Zaig's giant portraits. The church's elevator is not currently operating so the two galleries of contemporary art - both upstairs - are not accessible to the handicapped.

Rudd came up with the figure as the subject of the first show. Shaw says the exhibit "reminds viewers that the depiction of the human form remains a vital pursuit for today's
artists."

Berkshire region artists are shown occasionally at MASS MoCA, more often at the Berkshire Museum, infrequently at the WIlliams College Museum of Art,  almost never at the Clark (The only local figure show there in my memory was Transcript Photographer Randy Trabold.) and the Rockwell Museum, devoted to the Stockbridge artist and illustrators, also shows area high school art.

While I expect many artists think a museum should be devoted to their work, few have the money or drive to create their own. But Eric Rudd is an exception. The unanswered question is whether this will become another draw for the vibrant North Adams art scene. If the quality of the first show - which will be up through September 15 - becomes typical of its offerings, RAM should have no trouble finding an audience. There are plans to add more rooms to show regional art. "We're expanding slowly to maintain the quality of the exhibits," said Shaw.

There is no admission charge to the museum which will not be open in the winter. There is plenty of on-street parking. Remember to have a quarter with you to feed the meter.

 

Brief Bios of the Artists

Paul Chojnowski of Cheshire: Originally from the Berkshires, he studied at Hobart College in Geneva, NY, and then ended up in Atlanta, GA, for many years. During 1990s he returned to the Berkshires. Primarily with a welding torch, he burns and scorches his images onto paper and wood panels, using water to control the nuanced modelling.


Kris Galli
of Lenox: She is a self-taught painter.

 
Lisa Griffith of Pittsfield: Received her M.F.A. from the School of Art Institute in Chicago and teaches Fine Arts at BCC.


Meryl Joseph of Great Barrington: She is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work encompasses mixed media, film and kinetic sculpture.

Casey Krawczyk of South Lee: Born in Minnesota, she studied at the New York Academy of Art in NYC. Beginning in 2005, she taught fine arts at Western State College of Colorado until moving to the Berkshires in 2014.


Leo Mazzeo of New Ashford: He is primarily a painter and publisher of the web-magazine Arts Indie.  

Julia Morgan-Leamon of Williamstown; An artist and media producer from the Berkshires, she received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently the manager of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Gallery 51 in North Adams.

Viola Moriarty: 1958-2013. She was an artist and a teacher. A native of Denver, , she moved to Bennington in the 1990s. RAM will have a memorial show of her work opening Thursday, July 31, with DownStreet Art night.


William Oberst
of North Adams: He holds an MFA in painting as well as a Ph.D. in philosophy. After retiring from teaching painting and drawing at Stony Brook on Long Island, he moved to North Adams.

Doug Paisley of Williamstown: He is a studio assistant at Williams College.


Michael Rousseau of Pittsfield: He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design.


Joel Rudnick of Williamstown: Born in Brooklyn, NY, he studied at the Arts Students League of New York and under David Levine. He has been working and living in the Berkshires for many years now.


Brent Whitney
of Cheshire: He studied at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Currently he is primarily a sculptor and runs Swieto Studios.


David Zaig of North Adams: Born in Jerusalem, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Arts, London, and has taught many years in England and the US.

 

 

 

 

 

July 15, 2014

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

While I have been consentrating on Altered States photo prints lately, I have not abandoned painting. Here are three abstracts, all oils. Each was painted over an existing painting as my effort to cut down on the number of canvases we have stored in our house. Each is on a 24" x 48" panel. Some of each existing painting is utilized in the new one by scraping down to it through the new oil paint before it dried.

Above is 30 June 2014. It is distinguished from the other three by two thick vertical lines dividing the piece into three parts. Each of the others, 20 June 2014, below and 5 June 2014 at the bottom, is also divided into three rectangles. But the demarcations are not as pronounced.

 

I like doing these. They go together relatively fast and are expresssive. I use pallet knives to apply the paint. When you start one, you don't know what you're going to  end up with.

These are a continuation of a number of abstract I did for my Scarlet Letter series in 2005. One of those is shown below. They were smaller - 18" x !4" - and I showed them vertically. Another difference is that they were done in acrylic instead of oil. I'd like to show you the paintings the new ones cover, but I can't locate the jpgs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 14, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

We were on the Cape Cod Bike Trail last week. Babbie and Shannon rode and I walked. Along the way I paused to photograph a bumblebee hard at work in a rose. As I was taking pictures, a second bumblebee barged in. They tussled like wrestlers for a couple seconds until the first bee beat a retreat. I'm writing about it as if they were fighting. But I don't know anything about bees. Maybe they were just in each others way.

On the subject of flowers, I was startled by the beautiful colors of some of Babbie's wave petunias. The colors are so rich they  could be used for royal robes.

 

 

July 5, 2014

Photo by Grier Horner

 

Kris Galli is a Lenox artist whose work I have admired for years. Her work is so distinctive it would be easy to identify if they lined paintings up the way the police line up suspects. Locally you can see her paintings at Alta in Lenox, which has two dinning rooms lined with her art or Chocolate Springs, also Lenox, which has a couple. Currently Kris has a solo show at the Spencertown Academy in Spencertown, N.Y. It's well worth the drive over to see the exhibit, Dreams and Digressions, which opened Saturday and runs through August 10.

The longer I look at it the more I admire the painting above, Vigil, which is 36" x 36". In her dark velvet jacket, holding a garlanded staff topped by her high hat, white sails in the background, who, or what is she waiting for?

A hallmark of her work is the skilled way she handles skin, material and hair.  In many of her paintings the subject is waiting, reflecting or trying to figure things out.

"I don't know where these things come from," she says of what she paints. "I carry a notebook with me so when I get ideas I can write them down."

Then she'll go to one of her many models and have them pose to match her idea and photographs them or has their pictures taken by her husband, Edward Acker, a professional photographer. As she's painting with the photos as her guide, she'll often add an element to the picture that wasn't in her original vision.

 

Photo from Kris Galli website

In "You Will Figure This Out" above, Anna Masiero grapples with a tangle of line that symbolizes the complexities of life that a young woman has to sort through. In the painting, Kris extended the line above and to the sides of the model, to increase the tangle in her original vision.

It is her favorite of the many paintings in the exhibit in which Anna is also the model in one other, Troubadour.

 

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here Kris pats a puppy that one of the show visitors carried in. Hats crop up in a number of her paintings, as in Everyone You Have Ever Known, below.

Photo from Kris Galli website

 

Photo from Kris Galli website

Coincidently, the two paintings that were sold on Saturday where both of young women wearing hats. Above is Walking Her Heart Out of Town and below is Abby.

Photo by Grier Horner

I like the photo I took below because of the woman's animated reaction to Kris's paintings.

 

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Kris doesn't have a masters in fine art  or a BFA from an art college. She never took an art lesson. In fact she doesn't even have a degree from high school (although years later she got her GED). Adventurous and anxious to leave an unhappy home life behind, she left high school to hitchhike across America - twice. The final time stuck and she didn't return to school.

"I started painting at 18. I had a roommate who was a painter and I picked it up from her - and loved it." Later she was influenced by a local painter, Richard Britell, who she lived with in the early '80s. He is still at the top of her list of favorite painters, which includes Odd Nerdrum and Picasso in his blue and rose periods.

In the Rose Room. Photo by Grier Horner

Kris says she is in awe of artists like Lucien Freud, "who can put a green streak down the side of someone's face and have it look right." All she can bring herself to try is "a little green dot."

"I can see my work improving," the 52-year-old painter says, "and I hope it continues to."

She says she'd like to paint more loosely "but I may be 80 before I can work that out."

The 24 paintings in this show range in price from $1,200 to $3,600, depending on size. Some years she has sold 15 paintings, some years none. Also she usually takes a few commissions every year.

Photo by Grier Horner

Above she's talking with some of the people who came to the show. The painting is The Abstractionist. Below is Reflection. The hair waving across her forehead has been hit by the light in the gallery, distorting the color.

I met Kris in the early 80s when we were coworkers at The Eagle. She was a compositor and as an editor I worked closely with the composing room. She later worked at the Berkshire Courier and, briefly, at the Record.

While she was at the Courier she was selling paintings through the Clark Whitney gallery for about 6 years.

After quitting the Record, she decided she was through with the 9 to 5 working world. She assists her husband with aspects of his work. But after that it's painting. "To be honest, I think I taught myself to paint because I just didn’t fit in anywhere else," Kris says on her website: http://krisgallifineart.com

Photo by Grier Horner

"I’ve been painting for about twenty-five years, with the exception of those times when I’d take a long drive and throw all my brushes into the woods in a fit of despair," she says on her web page. "Later, I’d have to find them, and I ended up with all kinds of cuts and scratches. Now I tend to just throw them out onto the lawn. Anyway, it’s something that just keeps following me. I can’t stop painting. Not for long."

 

She Could Do Things Like That. Photo by Grier Horner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 29, 2014

Photo by Susan Phillips/All Rights Reserved

Reflections on the plate glass my computer-manipulated photos of three beautiful women were taped to, put them in an entirely new light during the opening of the seventh season of the DownStreet Art festival in downtown North Adams Thursday evening.

The reflections gave the 50-inch wide photos fascinating new dimensions. Look how a tree from across Main Street fills in for the shadow around Megin's eye and her hair becomes a mirror for the church. And below it's almost as if Linda Baker-cimini's thoughts are of the sky.

Photo by Shannon Nichols/All Rights Reserved

 

Photo by Shannon Nicols/All Rights Reserved

And this shot by my daughter Shannon of my picture of her daughter Riley gives meaning to the title of my installation: Facing the Street. Maybe it should have been Streeting the Face.

Normally my blog app is setup to limit the size of my pictures to three-quarters of the size you see above. Somehow it allowed me to override the limit and I'm running these much bigger pictures. I hope they maintain that larger format when I publish. We'll see.

DownStreet Art's season opener, which will remain on view through late July, drew people downtown to look and linger. Gina Coleman and her band One Way Out drew a crowd one storefront down from me. She can belt out the blues with the best of them. It was great to have her next door. That's her below. I don't know how many of those attending knew she is the new principal for Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield. Making this section of the street something of a family affair was the booth of her husband Michael Mongue and son Diego Mongue. The father-son team produces the "Awesome Robot Science Fiction Action Comix in which Dennis the Robot rockets to "exciting adventures in Strange Worlds." I bought two for one of my grandchildren.

 

Photo by Susan Phillips/All Rights Reserved

I stuck close to my installation which was at the Berkshire Eagle office on Main Street. Having my art at The Eagle marked another chapter in 32-year association with the newspaper, where I was a reporter and then the associate editor for 32 years, retiring in 1997. Kevin Moran, the vice president of news, suggested me to Jennifer Huberdeau, the paper's online editor. An artist in her own right, she is operating the North Adams office's DownStreet  gallery.

Also I was in the neighborhood of the old Transcript office, the one torn down by urban renewal. I had been a reporter there for five years before joining The Eagle. One woman I talked with even remember my name from my Transcript days.

 

Photo by Susan Phillips/All Rights Reserved

Above is more of the Main Street scene on Thursday evening and below is Center Street where the Route 2 overpass provided space for a spectacular 60-foot mural Justice by Egyptian artist Alaa Awad

I'm going to have to drive up to North Adams soon to take a look at all the art in the galleries that I didn't get to see because I stuck pretty close to my installation. But my wife Babbie got around to see some of the work and gave me good reports. One of the things I'm anxious to see is the new Rudd Art Museum which is located at the former Methodist Church which Eric Rudd, an artist and developer, bought. Only two rooms were open Thursday but Rudd and Kevin Shaw, the museum's director, have big plans for the large church which will show both Rudd's work and that of other Berkshire artists.

 

Photo by Susan Phillips/All Rights Reserved

I forgot my camera Thursday night but my daughter Shannon Nichols and a former co-worker, Susan Phillips, bailed me out and I thank them.

 

June 23, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is one of three photos of mine being shown at DownStreet Art in North Adams from 6 to 9 on Thursday night. They will be mounted in the windows of the Berkshire Eagle office and the faces will face the street.

The one at the top is of Linda Baker-cimini who does not complain when i mess around with the color of her face. Here are the other two:

Megin is the subject of the shot above and Riley, my granddaughter, is the model for the one below. Her face is imposed on a painting by Pierre Soulages, a French painter over 90 years old, who I admire.

 

The prints, on plastic "canvas", were made for me by Massive Graphics of Pittsfield. Each is roughly 34" x 50" and has had grommets inserted for hanging. I'm issuing them as a series of 10 each. I'll sell them for $695. Hope to see you there. There are a number of good artists to check out. Click here for the program.

Note

I haven't written a post for about three weeks because the software on which it is written, Adobe's Contribute, wouldn't launch on my computer. I spent several hours with Adobe on the phone but they were unable to solve the problem. I stumbled across a solution earlier today. I apologize to those of you who came to the site and found nothing new.

 

 

 

May 31, 2014

Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431 in Rouen, France. She was 19 andhad been found guilty of heresy by the English and Burgundian forces she had defeated in a number of battles in the Hundred Years War. Jeanne, an unschooled peasant girl, lead French forces to a major victory over the English at Orleans.

It was not just a victory it was a rout. She mounted an aggressive frontal attack, a departure from the French military's timidity and in the process became a hero to the French and a threat to the English. King Charles, who owed his crown to her, did nothing to help her. He and his advisors saw her huge popularity among the people as a threat to her power.

Years later she was retried - of course she was  dead at this point - and found innocent. In 1920, the girl who heard voices directing her to save France, was ordained a saint by the Catholic Church. As my friend Donna reminded me today, she was the only person convicted of heresy by the church to become a saint. She remembered that from parochial school at Notre Dame in Pittsfield.

 

This is a fine sculpture of Joan by Judith Shea. If you will look closely at my computer drawing at the top you will see her face amid the flames at the top.

Jeanne d'Arc was not just a figurehead. She planned the military strategy, led the troops into battle and fought bravely beside them, according to the accounts of officers in her army. Wounded in one engagement, she had the arrow pulled out and continued to fight. I have been fascinated with this teenage wonder since I read the long transcript of her trial in 2001. Although written by her adversaries, the transcript demonstrated her brilliance. She outwitted some of the best minds of her time in portions of the proceeding, in which she had no lawyer or legal advice.

At trial they set out to demonstrate that the voices she heard were not those of saints, as she claimed. Just before her execution, she recanted her testimony and would have been spared the brutal death. But the next day she took back the recantation and was consumed by the flames. They burned her remains two more times to make sure there were no bits or pieces of her left behind as relics.

(It is interesting to note she was also on trial for dressing like a man. That was a crime also punishable by death. (In fashion as in battle, she was hundreds of years ahead of her time.)

My fascination with this teenage hero lead to my series of 38 Jeanne d'Arc paintings. Here are a couple:

 

 

At 36" x 24" the painting above is among the smallest in the series.

 

 

This painting in oil was done by an unknown artist sometime between 1450 and 1500. It is at the Archives nationales in Paris. The only known portrait painted during her lifetime was apparently destroyed or lost. Below is a World War I poster urging American women to save their country by buying War Savings Stamps.

 

Jean Seberg in the 1957 film Saint Joan.

Over the years statues of Jeanne d'Arc were erected all over France and America. The one above is in Nanterre, France.

This one is in Washington, DC.

 

This one's in Paris.

'

And to end this piece, here are two more of my paintings. Some of these are very large. The one above is 80" x 45". All those shown in this post - along with many more - are still available. If you're interested, contact my dealer, Yoram Gil at www.galleryyoramgil.com.

 

 

 

May 25, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

MASS MoCA has mounted one of its best shows - and perhaps it's most beautiful - with Teresita Fernandez: As Above So Below which opened last night. It will be at the North Adams museum for almost a year. I found it exhilarating.

Above a woman, her stance expressive, takes in Fernandez's Golden (Odyssey) an India ink drawing on gold chroming and wood panels. The drawings are powerful but also beautiful - at a time when beauty is suspect in the art world.

"I give a lot of importance to the sensual and the sensorial aspect of engagement," the artist has said. "I love to seduce the viewer...(into) projecting their own explanation or fantasy onto what it is I have made."

 

Teresita Fernandez is the stylish woman at the right talking to a group last night in front of her Keifer-sized drawing, the title of which escapes me. Curator Denise Markonish is at the left. I had never heard of this Brooklyn-based artist before. Like many artists shown here, Fernandez is on the brink of becoming big time. Joe Thompson, the driving force behind converting the former factory into a museum and the director since it's inception, said this is the first time she has had a solo show in a major museum. But she is well known in some art circles and is by no means a starving artist.

 

And seduce me Fernandez's drawings did.  Above are Golden (Scroll 1) and Golden (Scroll 2). They are each 108 inches long and 12 inches high.

This is the piece from which the show takes its title.

Spread over nearly the entire first floor, this is among my top six exhibits at a facility that has had a lot of great shows - as well as a few duds - and is now celebrating its 15th anniversary. My other favirutes were Anselm Keifer's huge landscapes of fields scorched by war, Ann Hamilton's spiritual (and unintentionally festive) falling paper, Zu Bing's spectacular Phoenix, the etherial Material World, and Jenny Holzer's hypnotic projection of lines of poetry over every surface of the darkened main gallery.

Put together by Denise Markonish, one of the museum's two curators, As Above So Below also features installations and sculpture by the artist. But for me what makes the show great are the drawings. Below is Black Sun made of thousands of translucent tubes suspended from the ceiling of this triple height gallery.

And by the Sfumato (Epic) installation of countless small pieces of graphite attached to the walls in a site-specific piece that wanders  several hundred feet. And below that is a close-up of a small patch of her graphite mega-work.

 

 

 

Then there is this floor installation, Lunar (Theatre), with its 1,500 pounds of glass beads over a shiny gold platform that reflects the light from the windows that look out over the Porches Inn.

 

Here is a small sculpture, Bonsai, which stands alone at one end of the big downstairs gallery, casting its shadow below and its reflection above.

One of the intriguing things about the golden chrome parts of the Golden drawings is the way the viewer becomes part of the landscape. In this case the figure in the center is me. The Golden series was done this year and last and all the rest is from 2014, I believe.

 

Of course Fernandez is not the first to work with reflective surfaces to bring the surroundings into the picture plane. I used silver mylar in a number of the over 30 paintings I did in the Jeanne d'Arc series. And of course I got the idea from another artist, who undoubtedly got it from another artist.  This piece is 57" x 42" and is available through Gallery Yoram Gil, http://www.galleryyoramgil.com/.  I love this one.

 

 

 

 

May 19, 2014

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

St. Francis Gallery in South Lee opened a strong show Saturday and introduced a major talent, Casey Krawczyk, to the Berkshires.

When I saw her brooding Quiescence, I was awestruck by its commanding presence and it's beauty. Casey Krawczyk's self portrait, 70 inches high and perched on a pew, combines a background straight out of the 19th century with a figure firmly anchored in the 21st.

Here is a detail of the painting which is in oil on linen.

 

This shot offers a mirror image of her Surrounded by Forever, a painting grounded in the 19th century tradition. That's me hard at work with my Nikon.

Here is a detail from Surrounded by Forever.

The same theme was employed by the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais in the mid-19th century and by a contemporary photographer, Gregory Crewdson, in the 21st.. Just below is Millais's Ophelia and below that Crewdson's Untitled (Ophelia).

 

 

Back to Casey Krawczyk. This is her River. She completed the three paintings in the show five to seven years ago, she said. After that she turned to landscapes for a number of years.

"I realized the figure is my love and I am currently working on an new series of paintings involving the figure."

Casey Krawczyk earned a masters in fine arts from the New York Academy of Art in 2004. The next year she started teaching art at Western State College of Colorado. She was an assistant professor .

"I was about to gain tenure when I decided to leave my job so I could be a stay-at-home mommy and eventually pursue full-time painting when my girls are older" she said in an email. "My husband, Eric, a mountain man at heart, took a job here so I could follow both dreams. Now that is love! I did, however teach 2 workshops at IS183 last summer and I look forward to offering more courses in the future."

She now lives within walking distance of the gallery.

 Below is the artist and her daughters Meadow, in the carrier, and Willow. And below that is Willow's contribution to the show.

 

Gallery owner Phil Pryjma, pictured below with Karen Dolmanisth, calls Krawczy "the real deal." Her two  larger paintings are in the $19,500 to $24,000 range.

 

Other work I liked at St. Francis included the painting above (a detail is shown below) of a painting by Rick Costello, who is a fixture in the local art scene. His work is painstaking because it is astrologically correct, Costello says. In other words, he doesn't just splatter paint to create the stars, he tries to put them in their proper place in the universe.

 

Here's Microcosm/Macrocosm Space by Karen Dolmanisth, who is pointing to a section of her compelling drawing.

Here's how Phil Pryjma has turned the old church into an art gallery. He opened it last year.

Another artist whose work I liked a lot is Robert Rosegarten. Here are two of his pieces.

 

A jaunty Jack Benny by the late Mia Le Comte greets visitors to gallery on Route 102.

Against a shipping container in the parking lot is this massive driftwood sculpture in which I see all sorts of human figures although I don't know if it is meant to be figurative. The artist prefers to remain anonymous.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I will have a large print - about 10 feet x 7 feet - at St. Francis as part of its September show.)

 

 

 

 

 

May 14, 2014

Beauty and the Beast, Part 1

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

In my last post I showed you some photos and computer-generated photos of Laura. Today I wanted to show you some of her friend Hannah. Over a period of six months I took hundreds of pictures of them - which lead to a solo show of the paintings at Worcester Technical Institute in 2001. I have recently been scanning shots from the past into my computer. At the top is one of my favorites, Study in Orange.

 

This one I altered in the computer to make it come out clearly in huge blowups. I went up to 120 inches in height and Hannah's features held.

 

 

This is a shot of Hannah with Laura. When I ran into them - I think it was in 2000 - they were teenagers. Seeing the photo of Hannah above with her cheeks red with the cold reminded me of a winter painting I had done of her - below.

 

Here Laura and Hannah are holding hands with my granddaughter Riley on Rattlesnake Mountain Road in Stockbridge. Below is a photo of them both in the reeds along this road. These three paintings were displayed in the lobby of the WPI library while there were another dozen along a 100-foot wall upstairs. For the catalog for that show I interviewed myself. Parts of that historic moment in the American arts appears in Part Two of this post (below).

 

Beauty and the Beast, Part 2

 

It's My Funeral Isn't It?

This is me interviewing myself from the catalog for my 2001 solo show at Worcester Technical Institute.


Q. What do you do with yourself now that you’re retired?


A. What I do is paint.


Q. Sounds like a great hobby.


A. That’s what everyone says. But it isn’t a hobby. It’s my career, my so-called career...

Q. How does your wife react to you being home?


A. “Everything’s fine,” she tells her friends. “I keep him in the cellar.” That’s where I paint...


Q. What did you do before you were liberated?


A. I was the associate editor of The Berkshire Eagle, the newspaper in Pittsfield, Mass. I worked with reporters to develop stories, edited the main stories every night, laid out the front page and split page and was responsible for putting the paper to bed. Sometimes I still have deadline nightmares.


Q. What do you paint?
A. People mostly. Seeing the faces starting to emerge on the canvas is a kind of alchemy, a mystic experience.


Q. Do you have other subjects?


A. Sure. I’ve done a series on the abandoned orchard in the woods across from my house where these old beaten-down trees still cling to life. Not all my work is

 

realistic. Sometimes I explore abstraction. While I’ve been working on the Hannah and Laura paintings, I’ve also done some that are totally different, using spray paint, layers of canvas, words from Ed Ochester’s poetry. Someday I hope to be good enough to paint the amazing colors and patterns that play across my eyelids when they’re shut.


Q. Why paint so large?


A. My first love in art _ and it’s a continuing love _ was abstract expressionism with its boldness and freshness and emotion. And these were big paintings. When I started painting big just felt right. I’ve done paintings that are eight and nine feet wide. But it’s a little like building a boat in your basement and then discovering it won’t fit through the door. These days I’m confining myself to work that will fit in my van.


Q. When did you start painting?


A. When I was 60. I just turned 66. Art had been a passion for years _ other people’s art _ and then lightning struck and I was painting too.


Q. How’d you hook up with Laura and Hannah?


A. I was eating lunch in a Pittsfield restaurant last December when they came in with Hannah’s youngest sister and brother in tow and sat down. They all seemed to be having a wonderful time. I couldn't take my eyes off the older girls. They looked great, had these wonderful sort of neo-hippie clothes, nose rings, dreadlocks - and personality shown through. I had to gather up my courage to go over and talk to them. I gave them my number. They said they would call. Fortunately they dialed me, not 911.


Q. What are you trying to explore in your work?


A. Basically, life and death. The grace to embrace one and to face the other.


Q. That sounds a little grandiose.


A. It does doesn’t it? But that’s the way I think of it.


Q. Are you a Romantic?


A. Sometimes I live in a realm of dreams.


Q. How do you get life and death out of what you’re doing?

A. The Family Album series I did in 1999 would give you an idea of what I’m talking about. In a dozen paintings I tried to explore aspects of my parents’ lives and untimely deaths. They had died 33 years earlier, but working on the paintings was almost like being with them again. It was a transporting experience.


Q. I can see that. But how do these young women fit in?


A. Here they are, embarking on their adult lives, full of hope and enthusiasm, determined to help others. I’m embarking on a new life too. But at my age you know you’re working within an abbreviated time frame. You don’t forget that for long because you go to a lot more funerals than you used to. So the Laura and Hannah paintings are all about life.


Q. Who are your favorite painters?


A. Right now Xenia Hausner tops my list. But it keeps changing. Long-time favorites are Clyfford Still, Jackson Pollack, Joan Snyder, Chuck Close, John Singer Sargent, Cy Twembly, Mark Milloff, Jenny Saville and Odd Nerdrum. And except for Sargent, that’s leaving out anyone who painted before the 20th century.


Q. What is your greatest achievement?


A. I think it’s yet to come.

Q. What is your most treasured possession?


A. A 4 by 8-foot painting by Ray Librizzi, an outsider artist and friend. He did it when he was 85 on his hands and knees in his attic. It must have been 110 degrees up there. But he loved heat. It’s a wild painting about heaven and hell. He died recently at 93.


Q. How would you like to die?


A. With as few regrets as possible.


 

 

 

 

May 8, 2014

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a computer manipulated photo I've been working on the last few days. It started out as the photo of Laura below. She was standing in front of one of my paintings. While I can't claim that I put her on the map, it is fair to say I put a map on her. The piece not only involved altering the colors but redrawing her mouth on the computer, among other things.

The photo of Laura was taken in the late 1990s when I took about 600 shots of her and her friend Hannah over a period of six months in preparation for a series of about a dozen paintings I did of them. They paintings were shown at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2001. Working with these girls was one of the best experiences of my painting life. The ended up along a 100-foot wall at WPI due to the effort of my friend George Malloy and the fact that the curator, Rodney Obien, really liked them. One hangs in his new office at the University of New Hampshire and another in his home.

 

 

Here are two more photos I made from the original.

And below is one of the large paintings I did of the two teenagers - I think they were about 16 at the time. I ran across the girls at Juice n' Java on Elm Street and liked their neo-hippie style of dress and the way they included Hannah's young brother, who they brought to lunch, in their conversations. I worked up my nerve and asked them to model for me.

When I got home I told my wife they were going to call me if they decided to do it.

"After they talk to their mothers," Babbie joked, based on their age and the myth of the dirty old man, "the only call that's going to be made is to 911."

 

 

 

May 1, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This billboard - if that's what it is - climbs about eight stories up the side of a Manhattan building. But what is it advertising? And why is the woman's back to you and how come the upper part of her body just dissolve?

Here's another giant on the job. Look at his size in comparison to the cars and the building. I took these shots a couple years ago and came across them last night in my Aperture browser. I couldn't remember taking them and couldn't figure out what was going on. But when I got to the one below, the mystery was solved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2014

Photo Collages by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

In the picture above, John Singer Sargent's Madam X has lost her head. I replaced it with the head of another beauty, Elizabeth Taylor. Something of a sacrilege. But don't blame me. It's Dan Pytko's fault.

Dan recently had a dream, "an interesting dream of a painting of yours ...It was a life-sized, amorphous portrait of a person (watercolor and oil, mixed media, drippy) with calligraphy. You tried explaining the meaning of the words, the connections, but it was all beyond me. For some reason I didn't like the very bottom of the portrait. It just didn't 'go' with the rest of it."

Dan let me know about the dream on facebook and as we posted back and forth he got more specific.

"Think Sargent's "Mm X" in negative; with interesting delicate black writing in what looks like verse/poetry/Asian...

 

Sounds like a great painting to me. I'm currently painting circles but when I get off that kick I want to be ready to plunge into Dan's vision. So I've been messing around with putting Elizabeth Taylor's head on Madame X's body.  I like his original version where one jeweled strap had slipped off her shoulder. It got hoisted up to full mast after her mother and she protested that it was too shocking that way. Even with the strap in place, the painting created a sensation in cultural circles in France.

 

 

 

Madam X is one of my favorite paintings. It was a thrill to see the real thing - along with one of the doctor she was supposedly having an affair with - at an amazing Singer exhibition at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown in 1997. After that I painted a version of Madam X. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - I can't find a jpg. of it.

Below are some more of my working drawings, so to speak. I decided not to put her in the wedding dress, which was yellow. I can always do that later. And I still have to put the thing in negative. Then I will have a working model for the painting.

Dan, if it sells, you get a finder's fee.

 

 

 

 

 

April 18, 2014

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

In my last posts I showed you stills of Leni Smoragdova from a video she produced. I had manipulated them on the computer. They raised the issue of fair use and copyright. Today's photos are of Trisha Leydet that I took recently and then modified on the computer. They all zero in on her beautiful eyes, or in one case, a beautiful eye. There are no copyright issues here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 14, 2014

So here's the question. Can I claim authorship of this photo of Leni Smoragdova even though it is based on a still I took from her You Tube video Inside the Artist Studio Leni Smoragdova: "Цирк шапито."   Below is the shot I kidnapped.

On the basis of a recent court case against the appropriation artist Richard Prince, I looks like my use of the photo may not violate copyright protection. Whether that's fair is another question. I'll give you more about that case a little later in this blog. But first I want to say that I love watching Ms. Smoragdova talk on her video even though I don't understand a word she's saying. Her face is very expressive.

Googling her I discovered her photos, paintings and prints on  Saatchi Art . She is messing around with something I like to do - and did to her video still. That is manipulating the photo digitally. Here's an example:

 

Now let's talk a little about what an artist can swipe without  violating the rights of the artist whose work was stolen.

On the left is the original photo taken by Patrick Cariou, whose 2000 book, Yes Rasta, featured portraits taken in Jamaica. At the right is Prince's work.

The New York TImes explained last year, "Mr. Prince used dozens of the pictures as the basis for a series of dystopian works called “Canal Zone,” which were exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in 2008 and generated more than $10 million in sales." Cariou sued. He contended his copyright protections were violated by Prince.

The 2013 decision was a major victory for appropriation artists like Prince. A federal Court of Appeals ruled that Prince was protected by "fair use" of Cariou's work in 25 of the 30 paintings shown at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan. This March, before a judge came to a decision about the remaining five, Prince and Cariou settled the case.

But Prince changed the feeling of the photo by adding the guitar and paint splotches on the face. Whereas in the photo of Leni at the top I have added nothing but color and texture. So now I am starting to wonder if claiming this as my own work would meet the necessary standard of "transformative." In the photo below you'll see I've reached a conclusion.

The most  jarring appropriation by Prince was his use of the great photography in Marlboro cigarette ads years ago. Prince took the iconic Marlboro Man photos used in the ads - like the one below by Jim Krantz - and used them as if he had taken them himself. The only change he made was taking the advertising copy out of the pictures as they appeared in magazines and on billboards. Krantz didn't sue but he did tell the Times it would have been nice if Prince had at least given him credit.

 

 

March 31, 2014

Photos by Stephen Capogna of his paintings/All Rights Reserved

Stephen Capogna of Hinsdale, a house painter by day and a fine=art painter in his spare time, is a super realist who goes to labor-intensive lengths to render his gigantic golf balls. His work is starting to win admirer's in the art world.  He is being given a solo show in 2015 of all 10 of his golf paintings at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in its Hampden Gallery. And currently two  of his works are at the Lamont Gallery at Phillips Exeter  Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. It's exhibit is right up Stephen's alley: A Whole New Game: Sports & Games in Art. It is up through May 3.

The ball on the tee above is the first of 10 golf ball paintings he has been working on for several years. It's 54" x 58". That's one big golf ball. Stephan Capogna is doing for the golf ball what Chuck Close did for the human face. The original was done in 2010. But last year Stephen repainted the tee and the grass. It is currently hanging at the Lamont Gallery.

Stephen does his work with an airbrush and precise template's he cuts. But that's just the production end. To get photos of what the ball actually does when it's hit, he grew a small fairway and green in his yard and rigged up a high-speed camera to take shots as he was hitting the ball.

This painting, 60" x 72", shows his driver smashing the ball. Originally painted in 2011, "I completely redid this piece in 2013," Stephen says. " In the original #2, I omitted a lot of information. Bonnie (his wife) saw the original photo and said why didn't you paint it like this? At first I dismissed it, but then after some careful consideration I decided to completely redo it. I still have the original #2 painting though." 

If you're starting to get the idea he's a perfectionist, you're right.

This amazing painting was born in 2011 but was born again in 2014. It is 60" x 60" and like the others is of acrylic. It's one of my favorites.

"I repainted this more times than I care to remember," the painter says. "I had to re-stretch the canvas because it became too heavy with paint... As many artists experience, once you start doing a technique or particular subject matter, eventually, you get better at it. I have experienced this with my golf ball series. I have redone four of the five paintings I had in the previous blog (July 27, 2014, which can be viewed by clicking here). The good news is, I am happier with the new paintings."

Sometimes a painting survives Stephen's critical eye and doesn't undergo a remake. That was the case of this 54" x 58" beauty done in 2011. It is also in the Phillips Exeter show. It is 54" x 58".

 

This ball is contorted by the force of a club. Sixty by sixty inches, this painting dates from 2011 and also remains in its original state.

 

This one is 54" x 58" and was done in 2012. No repaint was necessary.

After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree from UMASS Amherst in 2001, Stephen started his own exterior/interior house painting business.  He's a perfectionist at his job. I know because he painted our house Palace Arms red five or six years ago and we're still getting compliments on how good the place looks.

 

 

 

 

 

March 26, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I've just finished two new circle paintings. They's about 51 inches high. I've been working on them quite a while. They went through a number of guises before they hit this point. Below is a shot of how this one started life.

The interior circle of this one came through pretty much unscathed, below, unlike that of its cell mate.

 

Here's the second new one and, below, the way it  began. There are a lot of layers of paint on this one.

 

In these details you get a little better idea of the painting technique. .

 

I like to think they became friends - had conversations with each other on more than one occasion -  as they hung side by side in my studio.

Something like this?

"Hey, what do you think of that old guy who keeps molesting us."

"I don't think he's a molester. I think he"s a painter."

"What's the difference?"

"Have you noticed? I'm better looking than you are?"

"Says who?"

"Says me."

"You want to step outside and repeat that?"

"Nah. I'm just going to hang around in here an get high on fumes."

As a geometric shape, the circle on the left is a little misshapen. Its buddy comes closer to being round. It's 2:26 a.m. and I'm abandoning them and this computer and heading for the kitchen to do the dishes. Oh, the rakish life of an artist in old age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Yesterday afternoon we took a walk in the woods. It was Babbie's birthday and that's one of the things she wanted to do. The other thing, and the one she was really looking forward to, was having her birthday party at Shannon and Paul's and eating the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting that Shannon and Riley made for her. It was delicious.

We see this splayed tree every time we walk through the woods from our house to the Beautiful Field. For years I've been calling it a wolf tree, but I looked up the definition last night and I've been wrong. A wolf tree is big and shoulders other trees in the woods out of its way, or it stands alone in a pasture after the others were cut to make way for hay.

Along the way to the Beautiful Field we encountered this icy spot. We had to take a slight detour around it. There are places like this on trails throughout the woods where four-wheelers have churned the earth during mud season, leaving gouges that fill with water. One of our favorite trails was trenched so deeply that neither man nor machine can use it anymore. Others are in danger of ending up that way.

Skimobiles, on the other hand, don't damage the trails. In fact they help hikers and cross country skiers by packing down the snow.

Although it is officially Spring we are still in the grip of winter in the Berkshires. When we took our walk it was 28 degrees. Overnight it is supposed to drop to 1. The ice is still thick enough to support pickups and SUVs on Pontoosuc Lake.

Part of the trail takes us through the remains of an orchard, now lost in a forest. Some of the trees still bear stunted apples, although they don't look like apple trees to me.  The dark tree in the foreground is one of these, as are the dark one to the left on the edge of the path and the dark tree in the background to the right.

This is a shot of the one by the path. A birch has grown up in its embrace.

Now we're at the field. This is its north end where the bordering woods is graced by birches. And from this field, which almost miraculously is free of housing, you get a great view of the mountains to the west. Up here the sounds of North Street a half mile away are muted. There is a stillness and a magic to this field, a place that is part of our secret history, that has held us gently for almost 50 years and invited us  to inhale its beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2014

Photo by Grier Horner

If you go to MASS MoCA in North Adams you've undoubtedly seen these fantastic MoCA - themed dresses in the gift section of the lobby.

Photo by Grier Horner

Wel, here's the 25-year-old who designs and sews them, Phyllis Criddle. Below she's modeling one of the dresses available at the museum shop, which she runs. It's made from T-shirts sold by MoCA or worn by its staff for special events. The dress of orange and yellow stripes is made of wristbands from Wilco's Solid Sound Festival staged at the museum for the last two years.

"Customers receive one after paying admission." she explains. "Staff working the festival wear another color, and performing artists wear another color, etc. I got the extra unused wristbands from the box office."

Photo from Phyllis Criddle Fashion on Facebook

I'd don't want to give you the impression that MoCA  dresses are the only ones she creates.

Photo from Phyllis Criddle Fashion on Facebook

This hard metal knockout is made of brass mirror hangers, zip-ties, turnbuckles, d-rings, nuts and bolts. Phyllis has said it isn't comfortable. But WOW. And she sold it.

The young designer hails from London. Her family moved to the United States in 1996 and her father, Richard Criddle, has been MoCA's chief of art installation since 1998. A sculptor he has exhibited at the museum's Kids Space.

The chain mail aspect of the dress reminds me of one I painted in my Runway Series.

Photo by Grier Horner

Below is a softer beauty from Phyllis Criddle Fashion  on Facebook. She designs a lot  of outfits you won't find at MoCA. As you'd expect, her hand sewn fashions aren't cheap. Going back to the photo at the top of this post, the red dress is $350 and the other two $650.

Photo from Phyllis Criddle Fashion on Facebook

Photo from Phyllis Criddle Fashion on Facebook

Back to MoCA, where the dress above sold. Here's hoping some fan of the museum will become buyer Number Two. She has brisker sales in MoCA cuffs and handbags like the ones in the next two photos.

Phyllis Criddle is good. Someday, maybe, models will strut her stuff at Fashion Week in New York, London and Milan.

Photo from Phyllis Criddle Fashion on Facebook

Photo from Phyllis Criddle Fashion on Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 11, 2014

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

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.

To contact Trisha about modeling gigs, click this link. To see some great shots of Trisha by Indian Orchard photographer Peter Fidalgo click here.

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

Photos by Grier Horner unless credited otherwise

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.

 

Photo from the Internet

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.

 

Photo of Donna Tartt by Annie Liebowitz accompanying a review of Tartt's new novel, The Goldfinch, in Vanity Fair. The Bennington College graduate's first novel was the spellbinding Secret History.

 

Fabritius by Fabritius

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

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

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

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

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.

 

 

Self portrait taken on my Photo Booth app.

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.

"The peace, of course, did not last. Custer's 1874 Black Hills expedition again brought war to the northern Plains, a war that would mean the end of independent Indian nations."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2014

 

Photo by Karen Schiltz/All Rights Reserved

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

Photo Collage by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

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

Photos by Grier Horner via Renoir, the movie

 

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

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

 

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

Photos by Grier Horner

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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