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Portrait of the Artist as an Old MaN

 

October 30, 2011

Part A

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

At 7 last night Babbie measured the snow. It was 8 inches deep. At 8:30 I measured it and now a foot was piled up. It's 11:30 now and there must be at least 15 inches and it's still coming down hard. I took this photo of our deck from the kitchen window.

Below the deck is "the pit" where I paint in the summer under a 10' x 10' canopy. I took it down just before the storm started this afternoon. It would have collapsed under the weight of all this snow. (I didn't get to paint there much this summer because the mosquitos were many and bloodthirsty.)

Today I'm going to have to gas up the snowblower and blow a lot of snow. The City of Pittsfield has been keeping up with the accumulation if our street is an example. So far plows have come up four times.

Up in New Hampshire our son Eric lost his power. But they have a generator.

 

 

October 30, 2011

Part B

Often I am blown away by art - or pictures of it - that I see in Art Knowledge News and Art Daily. Both are listings of what's being shown where and appear daily on the internet.

If you're not subscribing to the two, I think you're missing an interesting overview. Today I'm focusing on the works of art I liked best in just the October 27 issue of Art Knowledge News.

Above is Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night on the Rhone, Arles, one of 100 paintings on display in San Francisco last year. ( One of the troubles with Art Knowledge News is that it often has reruns while its editor tours museums. Art Daily doesn't inflict that on you.

I was familiar with the other Starry Night, but not this one.

While I always think of boxing paintings in connection with George Bellows, he fortunately was not a one-subject artist. Above is a beauty called Two Women painted in 1924. It is part of Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties that opened Friday at the Brooklyn Museum.

The untitled inkjet print above was part of the first solo exhibit of Robert Bergman, an American photographer born in 1944 (just eight years after me.) Thirty of his portraits were shown at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in 2009-2010. The photos came from his book A Kind of Rapture.

If you're a globetrotter forget going to the Palais de Tokyo in Paris to see it. You're two years too late. This is the way the Associated Press story on the show lead into the exhibit:

PARIS (AP).- At first glance, it's pure Gericault: The heap of writhing figures mimics the perfect, triangular composition of the French artist's iconic 1819 painting "The Raft of the Medusa." Look closer and you see a pierced and tattooed multicultural crowd clothed in logo-emblazoned tatters, striving not toward the elusive shoreline but toward a smudgy Hollywood sign and the Eiffel Tower floating in the distance. While Theodore Gericault's masterpiece brought to life a historical shipwreck, French photographer Gerard Rancinan's reworking grapples with the issue of immigration, capturing the plight of the boatloads of desperate people who wash up onto Europe's shores daily.

 

This arresting painting is a portrait of Gertrude Stein, an American expatriate in Paris, who befriended and perhaps influenced a slew of writers, including Hemingway. The 1907 painting is by Felix Edouart Vallotton . It is in an exhibit, Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories. It opened Friday and is up through January 22. So you can go to this one.

You've heard the phrase "a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." It was penned by Stein. The show at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery explores her multiple identities as a literary pioneer, transatlantic modernist, celebrity, art collector and must to , also known as an influential style-maker, art collector and muse to artists of several generations, according to the museum.

 

 

October 28, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

First snow. It started late yesterday afternoon and kept falling for about five hours. When I measured it at 11 p.m. two inches had accumulated. October freaking 27th and we have two inches of snow on the ground. We're supposed to get more Saturday.

In the photo at the top Babbie is reading in the dining room with one of my Runway paintings keeping watch.

Look at that stuff come down. This shot was from a front window - not the one the "hawk" flew through. (See my October 24 post.)

My cloven footprints betray my comings and goings on the deck outside the dining room. The temperature is supposed to drop into the 20s tonight. Babbie threw an extra blanket on our bed. And I lugged in the two remaining house plants from outside. The orange tree wasn't a problem but the big jade is in a giant pot and weighs a ton. I couldn't pick it up so I had to use a hand truck to pull it the step into the studio, where it's intruding on my limited painting space. But it is beautiful.

 

 

 

October 26, 2011

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

 

I've started another Runway painting in oil over a background of acrylic and China marker. The model, Arizona Muse, is wearing an outfit by Dsquared. The collection was shown recently as part of the Spring 2012 fashion extravaganza.

Obviously a work in progress I sketchily painted in the upper body because the American flag top will be semi transparent. I'm going to have to do some work to do justice to her heart-shaped face with it's distinctive eyebrows.

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / GoRunway.com

While she sports a don't-mess-with-me look in the flag outfit and the black and white below, she looks anything but menacing in this great shot of her with her son Nikko. “He is flourishing and blossoming as a little boy,” she said last year in Vogue.com, “and as a mom, I am too.”

You can tell from this post that I've looked her up on Google. I also learned her modeling career is booming and she is being called the "model of the moment."

 

 

October 24, 2011

Update: Knowing that the state Wildlife and Fisheries people like to keep tabs on birds of prey, I took our hawk to their office in Dalton yesterday. It turns out that the hawk  was a grouse. If you walk in the woods or brush you are familiar with them. They are the birds that take flight in an explosion of wing beats as you approach them. That always startles me because they are so well camouflaged by their plumage that you don't see them before take off.

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I suppose you could say the hawk crashed our party. Certainly she was uninvited. She left an awful mess and died of a broken neck.

This is the hole she - or he - put in our double-glazed window. Inside it was like an explosion in a glass factory. Babbie tried to find her in our bird book but didn't have any luck. Maybe it isn't even a hawk. But it's a good sized bird, maybe the size of a crow.

As you can see she had beautiful plumage. If you can identify her, I'd love to know. You can reach me by clicking on the "contact" icon at the top and then clicking "email me."

When I heard the smashing glass I thought one of the storm windows we had just put up had somehow fallen. The hawk hit the glass with such force that it came to rest 14 feet inside the room and glass scattered as far as the sliding door in back, a distance of 28 feet.

It was the second time a bird had broken a window in this room. The first was about 20 years ago and that time it was a partridge. Babbie and Michael had just left the room, fortunately. It was a clearstory window and one large, falling shard of glass stuck upright in the floor like a knife.

One of my neighbors, a hunter, had that bird for supper.

A couple winters ago we discovered a hawk in a shrub outside the living room looking in. Here's a shot of that one.

 

 

October 22, 2011

Photo by Braden Summers

And the winner is - drum roll --- NOT ME. I hadn't expected the grand prize - a solo show in New York City, a one-month residency in NYC and $5,000 - but I would have loved to have been one of the 100 finalists in Artists Wanted's One Life 2011 photo contest.

In the time I spent checking out the winners, who were announced Thursday, I found a lot of great shots. This one of the elegant older woman is wonderful. It was taken by Braden Summers, who won the People category, the one I entered.

Below is one of a series of photos of the Joplin, Missouri, tornado submitted by Mathieu Asselin. He won the Grand Prize. Artists Wanted doesn't supply any information on the artists other than their submission statements. All I really learned about Asselin is that he spent five days in Joplin.

 

This is a portrait by Ewelina Nietupska that I liked a lot. I got a kick out of her one sentence statement: "I approach my subjects with the ideas of hope, safety and confusion."

The photo of the girl in the convertible is by Ben Sullivan. All I know about him is that he is from Australia and was one of the 100 finalists.

This is another shot by Braden Summers, who also photographed the woman at the top of this post.

And this portrait of three subway riders in New York City was one of my favorites. I took it. It was one of six I submitted at $10 each. Not cheap, but hey. I think the entry fees pay this organization's rent.

P.S. If anyone is wondering which of the models in my October 20 post I picked for my next Runway painting, it was Arizona Muse - the one draped in the American flag.

 

 

October 20, 2011

Photo by Tommy Ton in Style.com

Like many of the outfits by Haider Ackermann , these don't leave much to the imagination.  Women have to be foolish, courageous or exhibitionists to wear the stuff. I hereby extend an invitation to all of the above to our annual Christmas Eve party.

(A note about the photo above. I posted it on facebook and they erased it an sent me a notice that among the things their policies ban is nudity.)

I'm scouting the latest designer stuff for my next runway painting. After spending much of the day on it, as well as hours on other days, I still haven't reached a decision. If I can find full-length shots of the women in silver and black, they would be high on my list.

I just found a full length of the first woman, Abbey Lee Kershaw, on Vogue.com. It's in three sections. To save space I'm just using the top. And I found the black outfit on Style.com being worn by Daiane Conterato.

Above, Arizona Muse, and below, Kendra Spears, sport neo-hippie contenders from Dsquared.

And finally, Ataui Deng in another Haider Ackerman. Do you have a favorite. Maybe you hate them all. Let me know at grier@mac.com

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2011

 

Misty Gamble's ceramics are tough, unsparing, sometimes grotesque looks at bad seeds and vacuous lives, among other things. In her five-piece grouping above, Sweet Terror, there is nothing sweet about the life-size figures.

The fallen skater is manipulating herself sexually while gorging on a cupcake. Take a look at her face below and it's clear she isn't someone you want your teenage daughter to pal around with.

See what the pink girl has in her hands in the photo at the top? Scissors. There's danger in her face as well.

Misty Gamble, 43, turned to art eight years ago after a career as an agent, publicist and event producer for musical acts and performance groups.

"I guess I always wanted to be an artist myself," she explains. With her skill and a name like Misty Gamble, how can she miss? I met her while she was in a 16-day residency at Leslie Ferrin's Project Art in Cummington.

This is a shot I took of Misty at the studio at Project Art. (The other photos are used by curtesy of the artist.) Misty, who got her MFA in 2007 from San Francisco State University, teaches at the Kansas City Art Institute in the School of the Foundation Year.

She appears to be on track to be a player in the ceramics field and was saluted in 2008 as a Ceramics Monthly emerging artist.

"Gamble is in the great company of other female ceramic sculptors
examining the female figure and all its connotations," writes Stephanie Lanter in Ceramics:Art and Perception. "It is a broad
conversation to be had, and she contributes a mature and witty voice."

The artist calls her work "snapshot sculptures" and says they "display my interest in questioning the perception of normalcy, morality and appropriateness, while examining human social behavior." The installation below is named Primping the Vacuous Soul.

                                 

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In Tan Hands, above, women show off rings with huge rocks. In it she "explores the themes of class, social status, and personal worth."

Project Art is a renovated 19th century mill building surrounded by lawn and gardens on the bank of the Westfield River in Cummington. It is owned by Ferrin, better known for the Pittsfield gallery that bears her name, and Sergei Isupov.

 

 

 

 

October 16, 2011

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Until the last few days the fall foliage in the Berkshires was a big bust. The colors ranged from dull brown to dull yellow. But in the last few days the hills and roadsides are showing bursts of red and yellow and orange as the trees try  to redeem themselves.

And a lot of trees haven't changed yet. So maybe the show will keep getting better.

The photo above is from an upper floor of the Eclipse Mill, which was converted to live-in artists studios by Eric Rudd.

Babbie, her sister Carol and I were up there checking out the mill and Jarvis Rockwell's Victorian digs yesterday. There's a lot to see in the many galleries on Main Street too. Open Studios continues today from 10 to 4. It's interesting to see the artists' high-ceilinged lofts and how they've arranged their living quarters amid their work spaces.

There are three studios for sale if you're interested One we looked at was offered for $175,000.

When the studios first went on the market, I was dying to sell our house and buy one.

"You take your 401 K and move up there and I'll keep mine and stay here," Babbie said, only half joking.

"Here" was the Pittsfield house we had put so much of ourselves into. (See below) I'm glad we didn't leave. It's our dream house. But I would love one of those studios to work in - if I had the money.

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But I'm going off on a tangent. Back to the foliage.  

Here's a stretch along Route 7 on the way to Williamstown. Below a brilliant yellow tour bus adds to the color. Too many trees are still subdued to make it a great season. But the staccato bursts of color are accented by the somber surroundings.

Some flowers are still blooming. This is the blackeyed-susan vine in the front of our house. And below is the woods across from our house. The sign on the front lawn is for Dan Bianchi, a candidate for mayor. It is the first time I've stuck a sign on the lawn. As a  councilman Dan played a pivotal role in preventing construction of 375 time share units across the street from us.

 

 

 

October 14, 2011

 

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here we have a self portrait of the writer of Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man. I took the computer shot late yesterday afternoon while I was talking to my grandson in Louisiana. That's what put the smile on my face.

Earlier in the afternoon Bill and I had taken one of our jaunts to the Man of Kent in Hoosick Falls. We talked about the unalloyed pleasure of no longer having jobs.

At the tavern I had a thick blackened burger, rare and wonderfully seasoned, and two beers. The sandwich was so big I took half of it home for supper. After which we went to see our granddaughter play volleyball, which she loves. Now that she's in the league for seventh and eighth graders the games are better, but still pretty low pressure.

Driving back and forth to Williamstown, where I hooked up with Bill at Tunnel City, a coffeehouse, I listened to Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.

Back at home I finished removing one of my old paintings from its stretcher so I can recycle the stretcher for my next Runway painting. Later I heard from great friends in St. Louis and we're arranging a get together.

So it was a day of good kids, good friends, good literature, good coffee, good beer, a good burger, and some art stuff - the kind of day that makes 76 a great age.

 

 

 

October 12, 2011

The large photos are from the Marlborough Gallery Website

I was looking at the Marlborough Gallery's website yesterday and picked out  works I like by six of the artists they represent. The gallery is a classy one at 545 West 25th Street in Manhattan. It should show my stuff.

The work at the top is by Thierry W. Despont and is called PNB 04. I was attracted to it because of the work I have been doing with rusted steel for my Killing Fields series. It is enamel, liquid iron, rust patina, and ink on copper plate mounted on a wood panel. Beautiful.

 

This one by Vincent Desiderio, whose show at Marlborough is up through Saturday, is called Sink. I'm sure she didn't climb in to take a bath. Someone knocked her off. It reminds me of the Gregory Crewdson photo

 

on the left above and, next to it, John Everett Millais 160-year-old Ophelia. They're all claustrophobic, eerie and fascinating. (You may have noticed that the upper right corners of some of these works are marred by the way I copied them on the web.)

This is Magdalena Abakanowicz's Coexistence, 14 figures executed in burlap. The sculptor is one of the great artists practicing today, in my view.

Steven Siegel stands with his 50 foot wall sculpture called Biography. We'll have to put an addition on the house to get it in.

 

Julio Larraz did this bold beauty made ominous by the juxtaposition of the steel hook and the man. It is called The Mandarin at Dry Dock, Punta Agravox and the oil is 72" x 60". This one goes in the addition too.

George Rickey's work is familiar to many in the Berkshires because it was shown at places like Chesterwood and Naumkeag. I used to love to see the articulated arms of his pieces gleaming in the sun as they moved - instruments of the wind. The sculptor, whose studio was in East Chatham, New York, died in 2002 at 95. I hope I can make art up to that age - which would give me 19 more years of painting.

 

 

 

October 10, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I worked long and hard last week to finish the painting above and the one below in time to include them in my application for a fellowship. And as these things go as soon as I saw my photographs I knew they needed a little more work. But I was out of time.

So in they went along with three other paintings from the Runway Series. These two are oil over acrylic with pastel and china marker. The others are acrylic. All five are 6' x 4'.

You've been seeing both of these stage by stage over a period of weeks. I may be driving you crazy with them. My idea was to show from the start how they progressed. Most of the changes on the painting below, which I am thinking of as The Haunting, involved lightening the shaded areas.

Below are two details from each painting, which may give you a better idea of the way they were made. I did the figures with pallet knives instead of brushes.

I wish I had another day to work on them before submitting them. But I don't. They have to stand on their own. And I hope that doesn't mean the paintings are DOA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 7, 2011

I couldn't come up with a subject for today's post. I'd been painting a long time Thursday to put the finishing touches on two paintings to make a deadline. I'm applying for a grant. I have to email the application today.

I had been working several hours trying to get the eyes right on one piece. I kept screwing them up. I was getting very frustrated. But at least I was getting exercise. I had to step onto a chair reach the eyes.

Because I couldn't take my pallet up with me, I had to step down every time I wanted more paint. And that must have been two times a minute.

At 4:30 I angrily rubbed one of the eyes out but spared the other. I went upstairs and had a biscotti, coffee and part of a chocolate bar. Then I drove to the Catholic Youth Center to see Riley's volleyball team play. After four games they were tied. Riley's team took the fifth.

I think the games made me even more tense.

After super I tackled the painting again. I decided I had been trying too hard. This time instead of using small brushes to do detailed work, I went back to pallet knives, which I'd used for most of the painting. Then it was easy because they preclude intricate painting.

So now one is ready on time and I will knock off the second in the morning - all I have to do there is the feet. Then I'll photograph them for the grant.

Anyway, when I didn't come up with a subject - which always requires at least one photograph - I started thinking that I've been writing Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man for a long time.

I went back into the archives to find the first one. It ran June 10, 2006. So I've been blogging more than five years. TV has it's summer reruns. I decided to give you a fall rerun. Here is Post Number Two. I was fond of the piece it features and which I later sold.

 

 

 

October 5, 2011

 

 

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is the latest blowup of my mother, Elizabeth Hall Horner. I manipulated the photo on the computer before having it printed by Massive Graphics in Pittsfield. And it is pretty massive. The black board it's mounted on is 72" x 36". The piece is leaning against the glass doors in the back of the house.

The origin of my doctored photo is this one from our family album and was taken by my father. I reshot it before blowing it up.

The incredible toddler here is me. I think we are on the beach at Westport, one of the many towns we lived in before settling in Tarrytown when I was going into 7th grade. By that time I had been in seven schools.

My mother couldn't have been out of the TB sanatorium long when this shot was taken, if I have the timing right.

Photo by Jack Horner (my father)/All Rights Reserved

Assuming I'm 2 years old in this photo, my mother was 30. So my father took it in 1937. At the time they only had 28 more years to live. Which of course no one knew then. Over the years the picture has discolored in the top right quadrant and has several creases. One disfigures my mother's chin.

Babbie kids that I still suffer from what she calls "adored child syndrome." I hope my parents realized their love was reciprocated.

Instead of getting rid of the discoloration on the computer, I decided to enhance it. I love the surface of the blowup, which you can see in this shot. To me it looks like her face has been formed by ice crystals.

Below is the self portrait I promised in my previous post, but failed to deliver. Not exactly a kid anymore.

I'm wearing my black glasses because Marge Bride asked me where they were when I went to see her show recently. "They're your trademark," she said. I've been wearing them for years. They started life as inexpensive Bolle sunglasses. I use an almost identical pair as sunglasses. So now you know more than you needed to know about my eye wear.

By the way, it's a  double self portrait because that is me in the painting in the background, the one with Red Riding Hood's boot on his head.

If you noticed that I failed to post yesterday, missing my every-other-day schedule, it's because I thought it was my day off. I don't think it's dementia. I've always been confused.

 

 

October 2, 2011

Photo by Marcus Tondo/GoRunway for Style.com

Yesterday I showed you the next photo I plan to blow up. This morning - it's 12:51 a.m. as I write - I'll show you some photos I might use in my next Runway painting. And as a bonus I'll throw in a photo of myself.

First we have a dress by Maison Martin Margiela where the model clutches the silver fabric to her chest to keep it up. There's no strap. And that's no oversight. Offered a drink, she'll save herself embarrassment if she's a teetotaller or a southpaw.

Some designers in the Spring 2012 runway shows have taken the sexiness issue a lot further. Witness this outfit by Haider Ackerman as photographed by Filippo Fior/GoRunway.com in Style.com. and worn, bravely, by model Abbey Lee Kershaw. If you have money to burn and want to make an impression at your next reunion, you might consider wearing it.

Next we have a designer, Giles, with a sense of humor. This shot was by Catwalking for the New York Times. Maybe the costume was inspired by Leda, the highborn mortal seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. From that union, the beautiful Helen of Troy was hatched.

Below is another outfit that shows a little humor, and maybe some patriotism. As you can see it's from the New York Times, the one you get online. The models strutted on a muddy runway. I think the color of her boots and jeans is built in. That's a Heineken in her hand, a nice touch.

Oh, I promised you a picture of myself, but I've decided that my face would strike a discordant note amid all this beauty. Forgive me. But as adults we have to learn to deal with disappointment.

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