Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer
Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man


February 27, 2011

Two openings are covered in this post. A six-artist show at Christine's Home Furnishings is Part A, and Rebecca Weinman's solo show at Pittsfield Contemporary is Part B.

Part A

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Dan Pytko's dramatic arrangements, above and below, were one of the highlights of a eight-artist show that opened last night at Christine's Home Furnishings at 288/300 Tyler Street, Pittsfield. Christine's, which I had never visited before, is a work of art itself in the way it mixes and displays new and estate furniture and accessories.

Scott Taylor poses with one of his paintings in a room on the second floor.

This is Barbara Arpante with  her painterly photograph of Onota Lake in Pittsfield. Below is her shot of a Stockbridge marsh.

Susan Geller took the three photos here and feels a special affinity for the rainbow because of one's appearance at a moment of loss in her life.

Marge Bride is a long-established name in Berkshire art circles. She's posing with a nichol-plated bed by Martha Stewart Furniture on display at the store. Two of her watercolors are behind her. Another is shown below.

This is Gerard Natale who, with his wife Christine, owns the business. He is standing in the studio in Christine's where he paints.

Looking very aristocratic is one of Carol Lew's old world animal portraits, very much at home in one of the store"s room settings. Also exhibiting is jewelry maker Marian Raser whose work I forgot to photograph.

Each artist was given room to display many pieces of art. You could go in to look at the paintings and end up buying furnishings, or vica versa. The display is expected to be up for some time.


Part B

Photos by Grier Horner

Despite snow squalls strafing the Berkshires Friday night, the opening of Rebecca Weinman's one-woman show at Pittsfield Contemporary was jammed.   The storefront gallery is located at 305 North Street. The show will be up through March 18 and the gallery is usually open from 3 to 9 Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Titled "You Weren't Supposed to See This," the paintings show women in poses not considered appropriate in some circles. In the oils above and below the subjects are squatting. You don't see pictures of people peeing very often. The only one I can think of off hand, and its of a woman defecating, is by Odd Nerdrum.

I like the way Rebecca Weinman paints. There is a looseness I admire and she handles the whites, flesh tones and background beautifully. And they are serious and full of feeling. Four paintings were sold on opening night, which is a good showing in the Berkshires.

This painting is on a type of paper that sticks to the wall, making it look like a mural, but can be pulled off easily. Is the subject hiding, literally or emotionally, or seeking solace or isolation in the woods? Come and see it and come up with your own interpretation.

Pittsfield Contemporary is a new gallery operated by Jay Elling. Part of pittsfieldcontemporary.com, Elling sees it as a place residents can come to see local artists. Nichole DuPont of the Advocate Weekly wrote that for Elling this show "is part of a grander scheme of experimentation and seeing what works in the gallery, which has only been open for eight months but has quickly carved a niche in the Pittsfield creative scene. "



You've just been looking at shots of people at the reception, including this one of the artist being congratulated by the woman in the red coat.

Rebecca uses herself as a model. It's much cheaper and easier than hiring one she told me. The paintings don't do her face justice, as you can see in the detail above. But she said she doesn't think of them as self portraits, even though she is the model.

This face clearly establishes the emotional bleakness of the work and the artist carries that out through the entire piece. I would like to have shown you the whole work instead of its top half but there were so many people I couldn't do it.

Below, the artist beams as she talks with some of the show goers. She is the community affairs coordinator for Fitzpatrick Cos., which includes the Red Lion Inn.


Pittsfield Contemporary bills itself as "an independent, free online publication documenting, promoting and discussing new visual art generated in the hub of the Berkshires - Pittsfield, MA." It's available at www.pittsfieldcontemporary.com.



February 25, 2011

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is my mother before she was my mother. Elizabeth Hall was 18 and this is a messed-with version of her passport picture. She was  about to embark on a cruise from Florida to Cuba on a sailboat in the company of another young woman and two or three male artists. Her father and stepmother must have been scandalized.

From the fragment of a photo below, taken on the sailboat, you can see why they wanted to paint her. She was a beauty. These shots look like they do because they are photos of Xerox blowups of the actual photographs. They have also gone through other indignities at my hands.

While my mother was a free spirit, my father, who she would meet and marry when she was in her mid 20s, was not. That would create some problems in their lives.


In this one deprived from the same Xerox blowup, I'm experimenting with an invention of mine that I think gives a photo a three-dimensional effect.

Anyway, I'm preparing to do a few collages featuring my mother after I finish the expanded Monk Memorial. ( See my February 23 post.) My Dad may get one too.




February 23, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

In my latest painting - actually it's two additional panels that will make the Monk Memorial a triptych - I am drawing on shots from a honeymoon and a wedding and of a movie star. The honeymooning couple is Babbie (above with a beer in our dark blue '53 Ford convertible) and me (below) in the same V8.

That Ford was one of my all-time favorite cars. You could put it in drifts around curves. Those were the days when I dreamed about racing cars. On our honeymoon we had to stop every hour to add water to the radiator. I hadn't had enough money to get the leak repaired.

And Babbie was my all-time favorite human being. I met her when I was in 8th grade at Washington Irving High School and she was in 7th. But I didn't date her until I was a senior. I sat in the seat behind her in physics and was impressed by her looks and her vitality. My friend Ralph, whose sister I had dated, and I would sometimes go out after lunch to watch the band practice for the next football game. Ralph and I were both on the team.

We liked to watch the drum major - Babbie - who would lean back and strut in her long school skirt, baton raised high.

"One of us should take her out," Ralph said.

He was right. We had our first date in late December, 1952. I don't know how many times I've mentioned that first date in this blog. But bear with me, I'm telling it again.

We went to a double feature at the Music Hall in Tarrytown and sat in the second row from the back. It took me time to reach over to hold her hand. When I did, she said in a voice loud enough to be heard by everyone within 50 feet:

"Grier, what are you doing?"

"Oh, I just wanted to see what time it was," I said, pulling her wrist up so I could see her watch.

How was I supposed to know she didn't believe in holding hands on a first date. All the guys making out with girls in the back row discovered that too.

Monday, at school they kept asking me, "Grier, what are you doing?" and "Hey, Grier, what time is it?"


After the movies we went to Pincus's for an ice cream soda and talked for a long time. Then we went for a long walk.

"Let's play follow the leader," Babbie said.

And we did. I followed her walking along the curb, along the tops of low walls, up one street and down the next. When I got home, I woke my parents and told them, "That's the girl I'm going to marry." And in 1960 we did get married.


These are pictures of Bob and Sue who have been married a few years longer. Bob, Monk and I were roomates at Brown. Bob and Sue were from Hastings, a couple towns down the Hudson from Tarrytown. We had played football against each other. (I knocked out their quarterback in a blind side tackle when we beat Hastings our senior year. But he returned to the game. People didn't worry about concusions then.) And I remembered Bob from the morning he was the cool, funny master of ceremonies for a variety show Hastings put on at Washington Irving. But we didn't actually meet until we were in college.

It was Bob who suggested a few years ago that I do a painting of the three roommates and their girlfriends having drinks at a restaurant. I liked the idea but never got around to it. But the Monk Memorial (See my February 11 post), with it's two added panels, will have pictures of all of us, photos I've doctored on the computer.

Because I don't have a picture of any of Monk's girls, I substituted one of a young woman (below) who would become a big movie star. Can you name her? The winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Sweden. Just remember that the winner of my last contest never managed to collect his prize.

If you would like to see if you guessed this young woman's identity correctly, go to this YouTube video.



February 21, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Every one was slowing down before passing this State Police cruiser, it's lights flashing, parked at the Lee exit on the Massachusetts Turnpike late yesterday afternoon. You'd have to be a daredevil or engaged in a battle royal with your significant - or insignificant - other to go speeding by.

In Lee a short way from the turnpike we saw the Lee Police in action.

Before the police sightings this was the view from the Prius. Babbie was driving. We were coming back from New Hampshire after a few days with Eric and Michelle and the twins, who turned three weeks old last Thursday. Grandchildren are a wonderful invention. And what would happen to the world without them? We now have four and love them all madly.



February 19, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Light at the end of the tunnel. It was built about  1995 as part of the reconstruction of Route 7 around Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield. The idea was to give safe passage to YMCA campers trekking to the boat house from Ponterril. They didn't have to cross busy Route 7.


But in the early 2000's the boathouse was condemned and the YMCA camp folded. So the only people using the tunnel now are skimobilers making their way to the lake, spraypainters, occasional walkers, and on rare occasions, a homeless person.

This tree at the 77-acre camp property blew down recently and forms a dramatic backdrop to the ruined tennis courts.

Here's the winter sun. I can't remember where I was when I shot it.

Now comes the sermon. All this acreage with its view of the lake, its woods and its stately hedgerows is going to a housing project. And the developers, with the blessing of the city's Community Development Board, are going to bulldoze most of the trees.

I realize development of tracts of land like this, once they are abandoned, is probably inevitable. But it is time for towns and builders to wise up and realize that it is time to save a property's natural features instead of clear cutting. The community ends up with more green space and the builder ends up with a more desirable project.

To the city's credit, it did demand 25 acres of woods be left in its natural state and that the project be surrounded by buffers of existing woodland. But the builders are going to desecrate the rest of the property. So it goes.


February 17, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

On the road from Williamstown to Pittsfield. A 30-minute trip its not a heroic voyage. Ulysses and Kerouac would have scoffed. But I was still savoring the whiskey porter Bill and I had at the Man of Kent in Hoosic Falls and the coffees at Tunnel City and it seemed like a good idea.

Here I am in Babbie's Prius heading South on Green River Road in Willaimstown after leaving Tunnel City. Below I'm passing the hillside orchard as the car nears Five Corners.


Now we're on the flats of Route 7  in South Williamstown. The road won't stay flat long. We'll be climbing up to the former Brodie Mountain Ski Area.

We're going through the cut in New Ashford just before the end of the long passing lane.

Driving downhill now and a car pulls out of Brodie Mountain road which leads to Jiminy Peak, another ski area, one that reports  fantastic business this season of many snow storms.


ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff  What's this? I'm drifting off to sleep with my finger on the f key. In the photo I'm pulling into Lanesborough.

Soon we'll pass the Baker's Farm golf range and then run along the east shore of Pontoosuc Lake, the last leg of the trip and my home territory.  The sky  has become dark and dramatic. It was a day that started out like Spring but deteriated. Within a half mile I'll be home.

Thanks for tagging along on this drive-by shooting.



February 15, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights reserved

I've worked more on the portrait of Gae, a la Warhol, and this may or may not be the finished version. When I brought it up to the kitchen yesterday morning to see it in a good light, Babbie said I'd ruined it with the red brush stroke across the bottom.

She may be right. But I haven't decided yet. The reason I put it there was that Gae in her later years had decided she wanted a bright red sofa to bring more color into her old house. She bought one covered in reddish orange leather. She loved it. She had painted the walls of the living room an eggplant color, also bold. That's what I tried to capture in the image next to the flowers. But I didn't get it deep enough.

I made the picture of Gae from a color photo (with red hat) I took a year ago. With a painting program I have on the computer, I  converted it to this. It took a long time to get it the way I wanted it. The hard part was stroking in the shades of gray.


Here are two detail shots. The collage, Number 15 in the Killing Fields series, is a 4' x 4' diptych. The images are on heavy paper, the paint is acrylic and the roses were dipped in an acrylic gel. If you recall I had used fresh roses in the painting of Monk (February 11th post), which are turning brown in their gal enclosure. This time I used dried roses. These, I think, will retain their color.

The red slash across the bottom is overlaid with pseudo writing  made with heavy drips of paint.





February 13, 2001

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


This is my newest painting, a tribute to my friend Gae. It is a work in progress. Of course anyone who embarks on something like this owes a lot to Andy Warhol. He popularized repeating images from soup cans to celebrities ranging from Marilyn to Chairman Mao.

I don't know where Warhol got the idea of using the same image repeatedly in one work, but the concept goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, if not earlier. Below is an example of the Egyptian practice on a 1990 record cover and below that a carving of Nubian slaves at the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt.


I think of the repeat images of Pop Art stars like Warhol as "multiples," because they use the same image multiple times. But multiples in the Pop context actually referred to works produced in large numbers. The idea was to produce art that people could afford. Of course you have to be rich to afford a Warhol today.

Also illustrating the ancient use of repeat immages were the Terra Cotta Warriors unearthed in China in 1974. This was years after Warhol and others started popularizing the practice in the 1960s. The craftsmen making these soldiers gave them individual faces. Dating from 210 BC, they were discovered by farmers near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.

The idea of repeat images is being used in fresh ways by some current artists. An example is a work by China's Yue Minjun, populated by his self portrait .





February 11, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is the Monk Memorial, the 14th in the Killing Fields series. I think it is finished now except for the boxes of Gauloises cigarettes I have ordered because Monk used to smoke them. When they arrive I will glue one or more of the boxes, and perhaps some individual cigarettes to the painting. I 'll show it to you again at that time.

But there are several reasons I'm showing you this work in progress now. (It has also been featured in my January 28th and February 1st posts.)

For one thing a number of elements have been added: black lace, herringbone suiting, a leaf and more roses.

For another some of the roses, like the one below, have started changing - rotting? - inside their heavy coatings of acrylic medium. It should be an interesting process to watch. The largest of the roses (like those in this detail) were fresh from the supermarket when I incorporated them two weeks ago. The small roses I had hung up to dry before using them. During the process they turned almost black.

Above and below you see the lace. I added it at the bottom of the painting. It is a reference to the black panties Monk hung behind a bamboo shade in the place he shared with Bob and me. Monk would gleefully pull the cord to lift the shade to show visitors. I had been debating whether to incorporate a pair of panties from Victoria's Secret or just use lace. Babbie argued against the underwear, saying it would be misunderstood and was in poor taste.

Next to the lace I added a piece of herringbone material(above) to hint at Monk's ultra-Ivy mode of dress when we were at Brown. He didn't have much spending money and his ROTC participation helped pay his way through school. Underneath his Brooks Brothers tweeds and flannels he wore T-shirts riddled with holes. I don't know if that was because he didn't have enough money to buy new ones or it was an eccentricity. He took a lot of ribbing from Bob and me about it.

Below is a shot of an unopened Iris and a rose, a detail in which you can see that I covered some of the rose stems with lace. The painting - really a collage - is 4' by 2' on a half-inch thick panel.

P.S. I should confess that I asked Babbie to go with me to the fabric store because I was embarrassed to be seen buying lace. Taking pity on my cowardice, she accompanied me.





February 9, 2011

Photo by Barbara Horner

That's me and my blower yesterday after the storm. We've spent so much time together this season people are starting to say we're an item. We're probably doing nothing to dispel that rumor by being color coordinated. I love it's power and the majestic white roster tail  of snow it throws.

We're rough and we're tough and we could blow your house down. Whatever winter throws at us, my blower and I can handle. Yesterday winter threw another six inches or so. That brings the total so far to 82 inches, which is six and one half feet.

We haven't seen anything like that since we were buried by 12 feet of snow eight years ago. That was for the full season. Who knows, we might see 12 feet again.

Yesterday morning the wind whipped the snow around. Here's what it looked like from inside the house:

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

You're looking at the maple across the street through drops of melted snow on the window.

When the wind gusted the snow swirled and the tree would almost disappear. Same thing with the car, below. First you see it then you don't . The wind was howling again last night. I hope the drive and paths aren't drifted in this morning. Yesterday I cleared my place and one short driveway and a long one for neighbors down the street.

Winters when we had very little snow, I used to ride my bike. I climbed Greylock on it one January 1. The beginning of the road was clear and I didn't hit snow until the last half of the eight-mile climb. Even then it was only a half inch deep and as long as I peddled smoothly I had traction.

Descending that time - or maybe it was another - I slide on a snowy curve and went down hard on my head. It was before I wore a helmet and I saw stars. This was late in the afternoon and I was lucky I wasn't knocked out because no one was using the road. Cars are banned in the winter and I hadn't seen any snowmobilers or skiers. The only tracks in the snow were mine.

For years my bike has hung upside down in the cellar, replaced on winter outings by the orange blower. I hope the bike's heart wasn't broken. We put in a lot of hours together, covering as much as 180 miles in a day.



February 7, 2011

Photos, Except Where Noted, By Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Like much of the country Pittsfield has had a lot of snow this winter. Seventy six inches so far. With almost four feet, January broke the old record for snowfall. The snow lies about 21/2 feet deep in our yard. Ice dams glisten at our eaves. It has been cold for the last three weeks or so, with the temperature seldom climbing above freezing and sometimes plunging well below zero.

Some of the snow in the maple across the street is from the snow blower - my constant companion these days - but much of it got there on its own. Out of habit I clear spaces for about eight cars, as if we were still throwing parties. Below a mourning dove outside our dining room has puffed up its feathers against the frigid air.

On a gray day a rabbit checks out the neighborhood beneath the same bush.

I love it when sun enters the house. This shot of an indoor plant in the addition was taken as  the narrow window admitted a slant of early morning sun.

Photo by Eric Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here the sun helps warm our sleeping grandsons, Chad and Chase, in New Hampshire yesterday. It looks cozy having a twin. Sunday they hit the grand old age of 10 days.




February 5, 2011

The way Picasso portrayed the handsome women in his life gives me pause. This is Pablo Picasso's Weeping Woman and below is Picasso and his muse, Dora Maar, who was the model for the painting. I wonder if she wondered how he could look at her and come up with this. It's powerful but hideous.

This is the cover photo of Mary Ann Caws book about Maar. The man beside her is, of course, Picasso. Weeping Woman, the painting, was conceived as a follow-up to his famous war painting, Guernica, and was supposedly a portrayal of the grief war brings. Picasso said:

"For me she's the weeping woman. For years I've painted her in tortured forms, not through sadism, and not with pleasure, either; just obeying a vision that forced itself on me. It was the deep reality, not the superficial one."

Once he described women as "suffering machines," and that made me wonder if  he wasn't the machine that caused the suffering in the lives of the women he loved. For example, at the time he met Maar, he had broken up with his wife and his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter had just delivered their daughter.


He is much more flattering to her in his Portrait of Dora Maar, in which she is seen in both full face and profile.


This photo of Dora Maar, a successful photographer in her own right before meeting Picasso, was taken, I think, by Man Ray. Below are two photos Maar shot in the 1930s.

Here's Dora Maar with Cat, another image where her face takes a beating. It sold in 2006 for $95 million. That's pretty serious money.

Here's part of the Google page you get if you call up Dora Maar. And now comes a little - really a lot for this blog - of the Picasso-Maar story as spelled out by the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia for its 2006 show Picasso and Dora Maar - A Mercurial Meeting of Minds.

I found it fascinating but I put it at the end in case you don't want to plow through it.

In the winter of 1935 Picasso became intimately involved with Dora Maar, a stunningly beautiful, passionate and acutely intelligent young woman. Dora's influence was to stimulate one of the most innovative periods of his career. His personal life was in turmoil when they met: he had broken up with his wife Olga Koklova, a ballet dancer with the Ballet Russes; and Marie-Thérèse Walter, his mistress since 1927, had given birth to their daughter, Maya. He felt incapable of painting and instead devoted his creative energy to writing poetry.

Picasso and Dora had a complex personal and artistic relationship that spanned the intense period from the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War to the end of the Second World War.
In 1997 when the reclusive Dora Maar died, new light was shed on their creative partnership. The Director of the Musée Picasso, distinguished Picasso scholar Anne Baldassari, was granted access to her apartment in order to prepare a photographic inventory of the premises (at 6, rue de Savoie, in the 6th arrondissement of Paris).

She discovered that Dora Maar had kept everything connected to her relationship with Picasso, such as her Rolleiflex camera that was central to her commercial photographic practice, and therefore instrumental in Picasso's dynamic experiments with photography. Other objects included a fragment of stained paper labelled Picasso's blood, a magical sculpture of her beloved terrier torn from a napkin by her lover, and a copy of L'Humanite from 5 October 1944 announcing Picasso's allegiance to the French Communist Party. The personalized nature of these precious objects provided new and intriguing insights into Picasso's inventive art practice, as well as one of the most artistically inspiring relationships of the 20th century.

Dora Maar was already established in Paris as an acclaimed fashion and publicity photographer, before her involvement with Picasso. Aside from her commercial practice she was an innovative Surrealist photographer, painter, intellectual and political activist. It is easy to understand how the meeting of Dora and Picasso's inventive minds influenced their work and fed each other's creative potential.

Portrait of Ubu (shown at the right), created by Dora in 1936, became an icon of the Surrealist movement and was exhibited in an exhibition of Surrealist objects at Charles Ratton's Gallery that same year; then later at the 'International Surrealist Exhibition' in London. The work was named after Alfred Jarry's controversial play of 1896, in which the character of Ubu is based on the playwright's physics teacher who resembled a monstrous sea creature.

Dora adamantly refused to identify the image, which perpetuated its mystique. There was speculation that it was an armadillo foetus. The work exemplifies the Surrealists' fascination with exploring forbidden territory, where the exotic and grotesque mingle to create a disquieting yet exciting tension.

Dora and Picasso had many mutual friends among the politically charged intellectual circles in Paris, including Man Ray, Andre Bréton, the founder of the Surrealist Movement, and the poet Paul Eluard. It was inevitable that their paths would eventually cross.

There are conflicting stories about their first meeting. The most intriguing story explains how Picasso was drawn to Dora by an incident at the Les Deux Magots café frequented by the Surrealists. While conversing with a friend he noticed her sitting alone absorbed in a strange ritual that involved stabbing a small penknife between her fingers and into the wooden table. Sometimes the knife caught her fingers and a drop of blood would appear between the roses embroidered on her black gloves. This surreal, audaciously elegant and edgy act embodied the qualities of this fascinating woman who Picasso found irresistible. He is supposed to have asked for her gloves as a memento of their meeting. As she had spent part of her childhood in Argentina she was able to converse with him in Spanish, his native tongue, an additional attraction that his other muses did not possess.

Shortly after their first meeting, in the winter of 1935/36, they began an artistic collaboration. Dora photographed Picasso in her studio at 29, rue d'Astorg. These early portraits are important records that capture Picasso, the guarded professional artist, as he gradually surrenders to the warmth and tenderness of a close relationship.

Mysteriously, Dora developed some of these portraits but never printed them. It is almost as if the ethereal nature of the negatives had captured the soul of the man she loved, a secret she preferred to keep to herself.

Dora's photography and the experimental techniques she employed were a source of inspiration to Picasso. He began to take photographs of her that were the catalyst for a whole series of works that blended photography with printmaking in an entirely new manner. Using photographs of Dora as a starting point, Picasso painted several portraits on glass before exposing them over photographic paper to create unique and surprising photographic impressions. He extended the process by further scratching into the images on glass plates to create different effects. By placing lace, tissue and other fabrics between the glass plate and the photographic paper, Picasso was able to build up novel and unprecedented multi-layered compositions.





February 3, 2011

When I opened my son Eric's email photo of the twins this morning, I burst out laughing.  The twins, Chase and Chad, are now seven days old. Hard to imagine being that young, isn't it.  Wonderful to contemplate what the future may hold for them and their parents. Wonderful, also, how the twins and Roan and Riley, our other grandchildren, light up my life and Babbie's.

But days are often like fast-cycling manic depressives. You have the delight of the twins. And you have the people's rebellion in Egypt taking a frightening turn as pro-Mubarak groups attack the protestors. I pulled this great shot from the New York Times.

Pittsfield escaped the second stage of the "monster" storm that was supposed to hit yesterday. Thank goodness. I still had to pull snow off the house with the roof rake and use the snowblower to clear the driveways and paths of the snow we did get.

I spend so much time with the snowblower in this winter of record snowfall that if it were a woman people would talk.

The photo above is our street on Monday morning. I usually sleep to 9 but I got up at 6:30 to meet Charles Bonenti - an old Eagle comrade who helped turn me on to art courses at Berkshire Community College - for breakfast at 8. I got the shot above looking up my street as I left the house.

After breakfast I took the one below.  It is of a dress at Deidre's, a North Street dress shop, across from On A Roll, where we ate. I wondered why the back of the dress was open to the waist. Was it because the dummy was too small or that the designer wanted to provide a little more exposure?

I don't know anyone who would wear this dress. And I don't go to events where someone might show up wearing it. But I do know some women, including Babbie, who in their day would have looked great in it. And a sixth grader on whom it would look great a few years from now.



February 1, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


I don't know if there was ever anyone I liked more than Monk. He and Bob and I lived in a cottage at the top of "College Hill" in Providence the year Monk failed out of Brown half way through his senior year. That took me by surprise. He hadn't said much about his dire academic straits.

Bob was in a fraternity and Monk and I weren't but we had been living off campus the last two years and this was the best place yet. We had a yard, three rooms and great camaraderie. We saw each other periodically in the early years after Brown. But that didn't last. We went different directions, both occupationally and geographically.

For years I didn't see them, but kept thinking of them as among my best friends. Then Monk died. I don't know how many years ago it was. But not too many, not so long ago that I don't still feel the stab of realizing our form of minimum-contact friendship was a farce. After that Bob and I made a point of keeping in touch.

When we get together we often talk about Monk and his girlfriends and his humor and eccentricities and warmth. I guess we don't talk about his warmth, but it's obvious we still feel it.

Monk always managed to make us laugh then and he still does. One of the things we remember so well was the bamboo shade he hung on a blank living room wall above the couch that was his bed. He loved to pull the string and slowly roll the curtain up, revealing a pair of black lace panties pinned to the wall, especially when there were girls over. Monk didn't reveal much about his personal life. I don't know if he had ever slept with a girl at that point.

Some time ago Bob suggested doing a painting with all three of us and our girlfriends in it. I've always liked the idea but for some reason keep postponing it. Bob and I married the girls we went with then and are still married to them. In college Monk loved a girl named Betsy, an outgoing redhead who wore angora sweaters and loved to "snuggle" with Monk on the sofa while we were all joking around. She was funny and would steal the show. Monk ended up marrying a girl from Saint Louis and stayed with her the rest of his life, too.

Which was the motivation for this collage - which is only of one of us - that I'm working on now.

His picture is composed of blown-up Xerox's of the picture of him in his early 20s which is sandwiched between the two larger photos.

The question in my mind is this: Is it a hokey idea to include a pair of black lace panties in this piece? Just above the roses in the foreground there is a flap in the multiple layers of the portrait in which they could be concealed. Insiders could lift the flap to reveal them, just like Monk did so gleefully.

Or, since this is a memorial, would it be better just to use some black lace instead? I called Bob, who lives in California, yesterday to see what he thinks. He wasn't home.

As I look at the top photo of my piece, it occurs to me that I should explain that the collage is on a 4' x 2' panel painted black and is lying on a workbench. All the colorful stuff outside the black rectangle is part of my chaotic studio stuff - some of it junk, some of it not.  In some ways I wish it were part of the piece.



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Seth Harwood, writer

Leslie, poet

Joe Goodwin, painter

Juliane: bimbopolitics

Lisa Reinke, painter

John Mitchell, commentary

Charles Guiliano, MAVERIC, art critic

Saatchi Gallery


Steve Satullo, movies

Christine Heller, artist


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