Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer


Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man


January 29, 2010

The reception was great. How could it not be great when people tell you they like your paintings. Of course, they sort of have to. Nevertheless I believe them. How could they not like them.

Above are two angel's in my life. The taller one is the Angel of Incineration in my Firebombing show at the Atrium Gallery at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington. The one without wings is Babbie.


Here's another M,my lovely 10-year-old granddaughter. She is my official show photographer and took all these shots.

This photo sets the scene. Margaret Cherin, the curator, is the fourth from the right, her face partially hidden. She selected my work for this show two years ago.

"Do you still think we'll be alive?" Babbie quipped.

Here's our friend Peter Kasiba of Williamsburg, who deals in modern antiques.

This is Peter's dog Rosie, an art-loving canine whose coat shimmered under the spotlights.

Dan Bellow, the  potter, came. He and I were comrades in arms at the Berkshire Eagle.

This is Karen Chase - whose latest book of poetry, Bear, is wonderful - and her husband Paul Graubard, the painter.

Cia Elkins of Gadd Books and Terry Wise, who had a terrific show in this gallery before me.

Betsy Dovydenas, the artist, was here with her husband Jonas, a photographer who has gone to Afghanistan 10 times since the mid-1980s to record troops and people in a nation long locked in war.

Joe Goodwin, the abstract painter who currently has a block buster of a show at Hotchkiss School.

Nancy Nirenberg, artist and pistol, and Paul Nichols, my daughter's husband and an artist.

This is John Bevan who is on the Simon's Rock staff.

Tricia Bevan and me.

In this painting the Angel of Incineration rides a bomb dropping on Dresden.

Eliza Cooney, a painter and art teacher, and on the right, Shannon Nichols, a teacher who is my daughter.

Mitch Greenwald, the lawyer.


In the middle of the Atrium Gallery grows a tree in the midst of stones and water and two frogs. "A tranquil room with untranquil paintings," as Betsy put it.

A miniature tombstone honors the two previous amphibious occupants, Ace and Deuce.



January 27, 2010 Post One

Reminder: The public reception for my Firebombing show at Bard College at Simon's Rock is from 5 to 7 this evening. The exhibition is in the Atrium Gallery in the Alumni Library.  (See my January 25 post, to which I've added a map.) Hope you can attend.


January 27, 2010, Post Two

Photos by Grier Horner/All rights reserved

Last year the developer promised us he would save these two rows of tall white pines at Ponterril, the 77-acre YMCA recreational facility to become the site of 93 homes.

But Brian Cohan, the developer, is no longer the developer. And these trees are coming down. Because Cohan was unable to launch the project, he has been relegated to the background as the Y itself takes over the project.

One of the project's new roads will force that row on the left to be cut down. Houses will replace the row on the right.

It wouldn't take much of a bend in the road to put the road between these two rows and have the trees grace the front lawns of the houses behind them. But it might mean the loss of a unit or two planned out of the photo on the right.

The Flexible Development zoning ordinance under which the project is to be built specifically asks developers to save natural features of the property, including woodland and views.

It's not that the Y's planning is all bad. It is leaving a large forested area at the south of the property, much of it wetland, undisturbed. It is also surrounding the project with a 50-foot buffer strip to remain in its natural state.

This is a property of fields divided by hedgerows and of woods. The YMCA under its new plan will remove all but one of the hedgerows, as I understand it.

The Y also plans to clear cut the hillside looking over the lake, except for the 50-foot buffer as shown below. (It's my approximation of 50 feet.)

But if you turn around and look up the hillside, the photo below shows what you see. And this woods will go.

I'm not even opposing the project of single and double-family houses. I just hope we can convince the Community Development Board, which has to grant a special permit, to hold the deforestation to a minimum.

And to preserve the hedgerows, like the one above. 

From this photo I took this summer, you can see why people would love to live on the hillside. It affords a sensational view over Pontoosuc Lake.

But it seems to me that the Y should leave islands of trees on the hillside. Again it might reduce the project size by two or three houses. Of course in a developer's eyes that's bad.

With the hedgerows intact and the hill not completely denuded, the Y would have a far more attractive project. One I think the city could be proud of and one that would attract buyers.

The public hearing for the project is at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, Pittsfield.


January 25, 2010

So yesterday on Facebook I sent out invitations to my show to dozens of people.  These were in addition to the couple hundred I sent out by email last week.

But just in case here it is again.

Oh, I should mention, in those I sent out over Facebook, I cleverly used the wrong date in my cover information. Fortunately a friend noticed the error.

So I've spent the early hours of the morning, trying to retrace my steps and send individual corrections. In the process I may have sent some of you two or three.

And it's possible that my department of Shameless Self Promotion managed to send you none. The department should be fired for incompetence, but I don't have the heart.

Here is a shot by Susan Geller, who also took the shot of the show that appeared in The Eagle last Thursday.

Photo by Susan Geller

As you can see, the Atrium Gallery is a pretty great place to hang my paintings. With its large central skylight, it has wonderful natural light. I'm very happy with the way they look and with the sequence the curator, Margaret Cherin, placed them. In the foreground I'm on the left and Craig Johnson is on the right.

Don't blame Susan for this one. It's my photo. Even though we decided to hang this one horizontally - and it show's up horizontally in its computer file - I can not make it budge from its original vertical position.

Methinks the angel has a mind of her own.

Here's another shot Susan took. I've had that leather jacket for years. It's interesting how it's weathered over time. I love the patina.

Hope you can make the reception. It's this Wednesday, not that other date I sent some of you.

Here's a map to help you find the gallery:



January 23, 2010

Grier Horner

Experimenting with using photos to create a shape, I came up with this. At the top are dancers Stefanie Weber and Karen Lee. In the center is a shot from my first walk on the lake this winter. Wouldn't that be something about six feet long? At the bottom is my road.



January 21, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All rights reserved

Pushing against space in this shot is Kalei Carlson during last night's open rehearsal of Stefanie Weber's COH Ensemble at the Storefront Artist Project gallery  in Pittsfield.

That graceful bend in her arm is something my arm refuses to do no matter how hard it's coaxed.

Stefanie and COH - Creatures of the Habitat - are in residency at the Storefront  for the month of January.

During the stay they are working on completion of Stefanie's "physical poetry performance piece" habitat (de)fragmentation.

Stefanie, right, has just hurled off the purple shroud that had draped Karen Lee. The other dancers, Kalei and Lita-Lundeen Setchfield, along the wall in the photo above this one, have hit the deck.

Another open rehearsal, featuring feedback from the audience, will be given next Wednesday at 6:30.

Below kids from the audience get in on the act.


January 19, 2010


Here are two shots of my show at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Which reminds me I still have to email the invitations to the reception.

It is being held on Wednesday, February 27, from 5 to 7, at the Atrium Gallery in the Alumni Library. The show is up through February 12.

There are seven paintings from my Dresden series in the show, Firebombing. Three of them have never been shown before, including the two in the bottom photo: Epiphany and Without Pity (After Blake).

In the top photo are: And She Was All of Solid Fire on the left and Dresden Mon Amour.

Dresden Mon Amour was suggested by photos of stacked bodies I saw when I started researching the Allied terror bombing of Dresden in World War II. Here is one of them:

Killed by fire of terrible ferocity, the victims - those whose bodies were recovered - were disposed of by fire. The German soldiers stacked them and ignited the pyres of corpses.


Switching to a pleasant subject, in the photo below poet Amy Fleury reads at The Bookstore in Lenox Sunday afternoon.

I loved her work.

Poet Judy Jordan said of the book: "These are tender poems full of harsh beauty and compassion.." And that's the way they seemed to me, although I would add that they contain flashes of gentle humor as well.

Amy teaches at McNeice University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where my son Michael and his wife Meghan Fleming are also on the faculty.

She is completing a residency at the Amy Clampet House in Lenox. Amy Fleury is the author of Beautiful Trouble, published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2004 after she won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry's First Book Award.





January 17, 2010

Joe Goodwin's Kiluea, 41.5" x 74", acrylic on canvas.  Photos by Grier Horner

On October 30 Eagle art critic Keith Shaw wrote that Joe Goodwin's art "pulses with a primal glow." Shaw's review of Goodwin's show at the Ferrin Gallery showered superlatives on the artist.

I've seen Joe's work often but it never has pulsed the way it does in his new show at Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut.

The reason is the care that Terri Moore, an art instructor at Hotchkiss, lavished on the lighting.

Using several types of bulbs, she returned day after day to adjust the lighting and mate paintings in a way that they played off each other beautifully.

The show, Explorations of the Unconscious, is on view through February 3 at the  handsome Tremaine Gallery in the Main Building at the prep school.

I love to go up close to Joe's work and look at small sections of the multi-layered paintings. It's like looking at galaxies within a universe. Here are a few examples:




January 15, 2010

I got up at 7:15 yesterday, shaved for the first time in a few days, cooked some oatmeal and ate it. I was feeling great. Here I was at 74 having my third solo show in less than 12 months.

Then I headed down to Penske's to pick up my truck with a 12-foot box.

But Romie tells me they couldn't get a 12 and they substituted a 16 for the same price. That's great. Except 16 isn't my best size. I clipped a mirror on a parked ambulance last time I drove one.

Back home Babbie and I started hauling the paintings out of the cellar, through the snowy pit, up the equally snowy steps and onto the ramp and into the truck. Babbie gives me a little push to get me going on the ramp.

"We're getting too old for this," Babbie said as we struggled with a big painting.

When we got down to Bard College at Simon's Rock, we met Margaret Charin. She's the collections and exhibitions curator and it was Margaret who had given me the show at the Atrium Gallery in the Alumni Library.

With Margaret and Babbie directing, I managed to back the truck down the long, narrow, curving drive flanked by snowbanks. That is I managed to do it after numerous maneuvers to miss a large rock at the drive's entry and a lamp post half way down.

The three of us got the paintings in, scraping the top of one interior passageway in the process. Margaret figured out where she wanted them. And we hung them.

I think they look great. I should point out that the Atrium Gallery is correctly named. The central section of the room is about two stories high and is caped by by a skylight, giving the room tremendous natural light.

Recessed in the polished stone floor under the skylight is a square space with water, stones and two frogs.

I forgot to mention the tree. A tree grows in the center. In the photo at the top, you are looking through the tree at the face in one of the seven paintings.

I know I'm not making this space seem idea for a show. But it is. It's a square, white, handsome place. And it's tranquil. By the way the benches in the picture below have been removed.

The show, Firebombing, opens this coming Monday and runs through February 12. The public reception is from 5 to 7 on Wednesday January 27.





January 13, 2010

I always think of myself as someone who can't draw. But every now  and then I come across something like these charcoal portraits that makes me realize I could if I spent  more time at it.

I did these on a New Year's Day probably four or five years ago. They are on canvas. I remember enjoying using the charcoal on that surface.

I'm in the home stretch of getting ready for my show at Bard College at Simon's Rock. Babbie and I'll be loading the paintings in the rental truck tomorrow to drive them down to Great Barrington and install them.

I spent yesterday stretching a stretcher. I needed one 74" x 47" for the new angel. To build a new one was going to take too long.

So I stripped one of my cathedral paintings off its stretcher, which was the right height but way too narrow. Then I cut the stretcher in half vertically and attached spacers top and bottom as shown above.

Additional pieces were attached to fill in the gaps. That took longer than I expected because the wood I'm using now is thicker than the wood I built the thing with in the late '90s.

Like building a stretch limo, only a lot simpler.

The show opens in the Atrium Gallery on the 18th. The reception will be January 27th from 5 to 7. Hope you can make it. Sending out the invitation with a map in a few days.



January 9, 2010

I wasn't  planning to write about this on my blog but I have been thinking about it a lot and decided  to.

Like the picture of the angel here - which is the way I saw her as I assembled her wings yesterday - the incident turned things upside down, at least temporarily.

I woke up to the clock radio yesterday about 6:30 and had been listening to about 45 minutes of news, most of it about the botched Christmas Day plane bombing.

The only thing I heard that interested me was that the American intelligence operations had not been as blind as everyone has been saying.

The two December attacks on Al Qaeda in Yemen were the result of information we had that the terrorists were planning an attack against our interests on Christmas. Unfortunately nobody apparently had linked the Nigerian father's warning to that information.

I get tired of the press and the politicians baying for someone's head. So I got up and went down to my studio in the cellar. There I started assembling the angel's wings, gluing the pieces of paint-coated dropcloths to the canvas after establishing the application sequence.

I had been working on that a long time when I was overtaken by an overpowering conviction that I was making something wonderful. I was elated.

That evolved into what I suppose is the feeling that comes over a person when they are born again. As I knelt on the canvas working on the wings, I felt as if I were being touched by a power outside myself.

I started saying, "Jesus, God, Lord, Savior" over and over. At first it was to myself and then it was out loud.

I should explain that I am an agnostic at best. And I don't know if this epiphany will change that. It is difficult to evaluate the impact at this point. I do not expect to start going to church. But there is no denying that it was very powerful and filled me with awe.

Wise guy that I am, I have been calling myself - to myself - a born-again agnostic.

PS: As you probably know, but I did not, Epiphany is a Christian feast that falls on January 6, celebrating the revelation of Jesus to the world through the visit of the Magi - the three wise men - to the manger where he was born.



January 7, 2010

Yesterday I reserved the truck to haul the Dresden Firebombing paintings down to Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington. Just one of a lot of loose ends I have to tie up before I install my show January 14.

Another loose end is the painting (above) that I'm still working on. It's the newest incarnation of the Angel of Incineration.

Her wings are made of scraps of old drop cloths I used to catch the spills from the Jeanne d'Arc paintings I did in 2008.

Since you last saw this painting, I've painted the canvas gold and incorporated hieroglyphics in red and gold. Now I have to decide whether to paint over the gold, leave it, or incorporate it as the backdrop.

The reception for the show in the Atrium Gallery in the Alumni Library will be held January 27 from 5 to 7. Hope you can come. I'll be mailing out invitations with a map of the campus soon.

The floor space where I'm working on the new painting is hemmed in by the table above and by the mess of materials below.

The painting behind the table is one that's going in the show. Neatness, as you can see, is not my forte.



January 5, 2010

For the foodies among you, this is the salmon wrap I had at a restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York, recently.

I think it was one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. It makes my mouth water looking at it now.

Babbie and Nancy, who were with me - or was I with them - accused me of taking the wrap's portrait as a ruse to inconspicuously photograph the blonde sitting at the next table.

Not only did this place have great food, the table top's were colorful, hand painted in folk art designs.

The only trouble with this place - and it's not the place's fault - is I can't remember its name.

Maybe Nancy or Babbie could tell you. I'm sure they could.

Saratoga Springs has one of the nicest downtowns I've seen: old buildings, lots of shops and restaurants, street life.

P.S. Babbie tells me the name is Scallions.



January 3, 2010

Two new portraits of the Angel of Incineration are in process. One has abstract wings and the other has the head of a crow, as painted by the late Leonard Baskin.

The blonde angel above is pondering the firestorm she has unleashed on Dresden, Germany. The working title is What Hath God Wrought.

Her wings are fabricated of pieces of pooled acrylic paint on canvas. I cut the pieces from dropcloths I used while painting the Jeanne d'Arc series in 2008.

I cut the figure of the woman out of one of my early paintings on paper. It must have been done about 1998. The model was Anita McFarland.

I'm going to mount the paper onto a cardboard cutout and then glue that to the canvas.

The figure in the angel with the crow's head was painted on canvas with watercolor and oil pastel and then cut out. As you see it below, it is tacked to the wall of my studio. I like the effect.

I turned to the head of a crow because the small Leonard Baskin show at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown keeps playing in my head. Baskin teamed with poet Ted Hughes on a limited-edition book. The 12 drawings for the book are powerful and eerie. The angel's legs and feet are also derived from Baskin.

The exhibit, which also includes Edouard Manet's illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, ends January 10. It's small but wonderful.




January 1, 2010

I went to a swell New Year's Eve party and had a wonderful time. I don't know why I feel compelled to write what I'm about to write. Maybe it's just that I'm getting cranky in my old age - and prudish.

After you read this, let me know your verdict. Frankly, I was somewhat taken aback by two of the younger women's costumes. To me they were inappropriate.

I thought this kid, the one on the left, went a little too wild with her makeup. But I have to admit I got to like it better as the evening wore on.

And I suggest that the woman on the right was being blatantly provocative. She was seated next to me at dinner and seemed awfully nice and not the least bit self conscious. But the neckline made me uncomfortable.

As for her friend in the center, my only quibble was that she didn't take off those sunglasses the whole night, not even during the meal. I guess that's really a breach of etiquette rather than of dress code. Help me out. What's the protocol?

Of the eight younger women attending, I thought the two below were the best dressed. The white dress had an elegant simplicity. And  while some my think the blonde woman's skirt was too short, the tweed jacket lent an air of modesty that I think solved that problem, if indeed it was a problem.

P.S. About 20 of 12 I felt compelled to duck into a bedroom and turn the TV to CNN. I had to see Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper as they broadcast live from Times Square. She kids him mercilessly and he takes it  with good grace. They kept me laughing for the 15 minutes I watched before returning to the party.



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