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


April 29, 2010

You might say this model, Simona Andrejic, is dressed to kill in this dress by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac . It probably would not be appropriate for a wake but would be OK for Halloween. I like the skull's loopy smile.

I'm showing you the photo by Yannis Vlamos of GoRunway.com because at soom point I want to resume my runway series and I think these outfits by de Castelbajac might be a good starting point. Below are some more.



Here's de Castelbajac with the model after his presentation at the Fall 2011 Fashion Week.He is known for bringing humor to high design.

Using a skeleton puts him in some good company.  Below is a gown designed by Elsa


elsa Schiaparelli in collaboration with Salvador Dali in 1938. Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, Schiaparelli is considered one of the most important fashion designers between the two World Wars, according to Wikipedia.

This post was due April 28 and I apologize for the delay. Publication was beset with problems.



April 26, 2011

Photo by Grier Horner'All Rights Reserved

Here is Number 25 in the Killing Fields series. It is 72 " x  36" and the photo, blown up by Massive Graphics of Pittsfield is 64 inches high. I showed you this photo last on April 19. In that version the blowup was just over half the size of this one.

Below is the passport photo - or rather my photo of it - which I manipulated on the computer until I got the shot above. It was lying on a blue tablecloth.

In the earlier version I had teamed the manipulated photo with a second panel, which used 15 copies of the same image to create an unsettling pattern. The diptych is 4' x 4'.

I don't know if I will echo the multi-faced panel again. Still thinking about it. Another possibility would be using the other side of her face on the second panel, perhaps as a negative. Maybe I won't add anything. It's a strong image as it is. And my mother, who died 45 years ago, had great strength of character.

The first collage using this version of the photo appeared on my blog April 1. Shown below it is on a 3' x 2' panel.




April 24, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


I was walking up the wrecked road to the abandoned YMCA Ponterril camp the other day  and decided to take shots of every can or bottle I found. Which I did .  There were a lot. I won't burden you with all of them. Despite the promise on this Dr Pepper label, not everybody wins and the guy - or girl - who tossed it is a loser. Cool label nevertheless.

I could not publish my regularly scheduled April 23 post due to technical difficulties. So for a while I'll be publishing every other day on even numbered days.




April 21, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This crew was marching across South Street at Park Square on Tuesday afternoon. A drum was being beaten for some cause. If my memory serves correctly - and it often doesn't - they were opposed to nuclear power. If I have that wrong, I apologize.

I saw them as the Prius idled at a red light. Actually the Prius wasn't idling. The engine shuts off during short stops. Waiting for the light to change, I used the rearview mirror to shot construction work on North Street.


From the quality of the work that was done on South Street, this should be a good project. But it makes me a little nervous when one of the first things they do is cut down the existing trees. I assume they will replace them. The white buildings across the street are the former Berkshire Bank & Trust on the left and the former Union Federal Savings Bank. Both were empty for years during the near death of the downtown. The Berkshire Bank is still empty I believe but a sushi restaurant and a coffee shop opened in the old Union Federal last year. And last summer the new owner was refurbishing the upper floors as apartments. I haven't heard whether any are occupied.



Yesterday Bill and I took one of our periodic jaunts to the Man of Kent in Hoosick Falls, N. Y.  We had whisky porter and sandwichs. The shot above was taken as I headed for home down Green River Road in Williamstown. It was a raw day and the clouds were hanging very low approaching Five Corners.


In a field in northern Lanesborough I saw the moose that has taken up residency in the town, at least temporarily. I stopped because a dozen cars were pulled over along Route 7 and I wondered what everyone was looking at. This shot on telephoto makes her look close to me, but she was quit a distance from the road. If it wasn't such a boring photo I would have made it the lead of today's post. But during the 10 minutes I was there she never turned her head or, for that matter, never moved. Maybe she's homesick.




April 19, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


Here is Number 24 in my Killing Fields series. It is a diptych measuring 4' x 4' and as I have been doing recently focuses on my mother who died in 1965 when she was 58. The cause of death was an overdose of barbiturates, prescribed for her manic depression, washed down with bourbon.

This is a diptych, 4' x 4'. This as you probably already know is my mother. The large photo is a print on vinyl and the small photos are prints I ran off at home.

The panel on the right is composed of 15 small prints of the large photo, six of them upside down. The piece, despite the flowers, is frightening to look at - at least for me.

I might call this collage  La Belle Dame sans Merci  - The Beautiful Woman without Pity -  after the poem by John Keats. When Was studying the Romantic Poets at college in 1953, I couldn't stand them. I remember flinging the book across the dormitory room one night. Keats, Shelley and Byron were so flowery they made me angry.

But last night I enjoyed trying to figure out what the Keats poem was about  - I decided La Belle Dame was death - and read a number of interpretations on the internet, none of which jibbed with my own.

  In any case I don't want people to think my mother was merciless, which would be extremely misleading. So maybe the title should be La Belle Dame avec Merci. I'll have to ask Babbie the names of the dried flowers I used between the prints.


As evening fell the panel with the multiples transformed to black and white in the fading light. I liked what I saw and went to the computer to try to duplicate it. See below. Maybe I'll try a black and white version.




April 17, 2011

Part One

Photos by Grier Horner (except where noted)/All Rights Reserved


Huckleberry DelSignor has a show, Concepts in Crochet, at the Berkshire Museum that is small but a lot of fun.

Located in the Wider Window Gallery - the museum's stairway gallery reached through a door off the rear galleries - her exhibit shows her masks and small geometric structures. A great thing about the masks was that the artist lets you try them on and has provided mirrors so you can take a look at yourself decked out in them. I saw one boy sit inside one of her structures.


Above you have the artist behind the mask and below talking about her work with visitors.



Here Joe Goodwin, an artist himself, tried on one of DelSignor's creations. In the background you can see the window that gives the gallery its name.

Bess Hockstein, left, and Maria Mingalone, interim director of the museum, were on the gallery's first floor when I took this picture of them from the second.

From the postcard for the show here's a great shot of the artist at work. Her website  is http://www.huckandstuff.com.


Part Two

Photos by Grier Horner (except as noted)/All Rights Reserved

Michael Boroniec, above, held a sale of bowls and tea bowls at Mission  Bar and Tapas in Pittsfield last evening to benefit the Red Cross Japanese Relief Fund. Below is a beauty that was purchased while I was there.

I bought the small black bowl by his left knee for Babbie for our 51st wedding anniversary. I thought she'd like it to put pansies and other small flowers in.

Boroniec, a RISD grad, is a sculptor and painter who also likes to work at the potter's wheel. Below is a piece in his 2011 show about the war in Afghanistan at the Ferrin Gallery, which represents him.  (The photo ofthe piece is from his website. His journalistic approach to art also resulted in another show at Ferrin last year, Crude Awakening, in which his art responded to the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

P.S. We celebrated our 51st last night at Brix with a great meal and some good wine and talk about the past and the future. We paid with a gift certificate our kids had given us for our 50th anniversary. We didn't get to use it then because Babbie was ill.


April 15, 2011


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

From our hotel window in Lake Charles I got this silhouetted view  of the  lake by shooting straight into a wide streak of sun-glare on the water.



This young woman on the phone is in the courtyard of Luna Tuna in downtown Lake Charles. Places like this are slowly reviving the downtown, which had been deserted.


Dramatic clouds taken from - where else - the hotel.

Sisters Erin and Amber Rogers sang and played at Stellar Beans, a downtown coffee house.  Their folk music has that high lonesome sound.

Here are some Lake Charles girls looking a little defiant and pleased as they celebrated by the lake about 100 years ago, caught by a very good photographer.

This is my favorite portrayal of Christ, located in a small graveyard along the lake. Typically even very good artists make Christ look wimpy. There is nothing wimpy about this statue done by Janie Stine LaCroix. I liked the comment on the plaque (below).


I think this custom chopper is a work of art, too.




April 13, 2011


Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

We just got back from a week in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and I want to show you two telephoto shots I took from our hotel window one night. Both are of the Isle of Capri Casinos across the water in Westlake. The casinos are "dockside" on two ships. Other facilities include more than 400 hotel rooms.

I love the scene, especially the blue tower. The shot below was taken just seconds before the one above. But on the shot below I couldn't hold the camera steady enough for the long night-time exposure. That created the linear composition of the lights.

For the photo at the top I steadied the camera by bracing my left camera hand against the window molding and my right elbow against the glass.

Because of the lovely view we kept the drapes open night and day. A room like this should be expensive. But it wasn't, thanks to Hurricane Rita. Although that storm spared the casino boats in Westwood, it destroyed the gambling boat docked near our hotel in Lake Charles.

Meanwhile, the gambling shifted to a new player, the grand - some might call it grandiose - L'Auberge du Lac casino resort on the other side of town. It was built on a grand scale, offering golf, gambling and 1,000 hotel rooms and suites in a building 26-stories high.

Since it went up hotels and motels have been sprouting up near it. Demand for accommodations near L'Auberge drained enough business from our lakeside haunt to force it to drop prices. Coming up soon in Lake Charles is a vote to determine whether another large-scale casino will be allowed next to L'Auberge du Lac.




April 11, 2011

Appropriated Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is my mother, Elizabeth Hall, circa 1927. I think she was about 20 at the time and seemed to be living the Roaring 20s to the hilt.

The photo comes from our family album, which came into my hands following my parents' deaths in  1965, when they were 58.

I'm starting to develop artwork based on a series of photos of my mother. You can go to my April 1 post to see my last piece, which is still in flux.

I haven't retouched this photo yet. So you can see unsightly black dots on my mother's white dress and on her face.

I think both of these shots were taken in Cuba.

Both photos have been cropped. A man sitting on the beach with her in the grass-skirt photo ended up on the editing room floor.

He may be the guy who became her first husband. I didn't even know my mother had been married before until after her death when my sister told me. That explained why our silverware had a "Y" instead of an "H" engraved on it.

My mother's full maiden name was Elizabeth Gertrude Grace Hall, and she hated everything but the Hall .

"Elizabeth Gertrude Grace spells EGG," she'd say, referring to the initials. She went by Betty, but in middle age switched to Beth.


April 9, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

On the road again, April 2.

Take a ride with me from Cheshire to Adams to North Adams. I'm shooting along the way, but you aren't in any danger.

I hold the camera at the top of the steering wheel so pictures churn when I turn. Here we're heading down Route 8 from the Cheshire State Police barracks and are about to enter Adams.

Here we've just passed McDonalds and are about to turn left onto Adams' main drag. The mountains in North Berkshire, especially in North Adams, loom larger than in Pittsfield and Great Barrington in south Berkshire County.

That becomes more evident as you pull out of downtown Adams  in the photo below.

Now we're on the Curran Highway on the way to North Adams.

As we move toward Coca Cola Ledge the rises above the dwellings in the center of the photo, a sign gives us a warning that flies in the face of the boldness of MASS MoCA, the largest contemporary art museum in the United States.

We're at the crest of the bridge over the railroad tracks and the Hoosic River. Under reconstruction, the bridge is what the caution sign was warning us about.

At the bottom of the bridge, where Main Street and Marshall Street intersect, we get the green light. MASS MoCA will be on the left after we pass under the Hadley Overpass that looms over the high brake light of the vehicle in front of us.

Take a look at North Adams from the perspective of the MoCA parking lot in the April 7 post.



April 7, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

You're standing in the parking lot at MASS MoCA in North Adams looking at its surroundings in these pictures. Of course the shots are taken with a telephoto lens so things appear right on top of you.

The snow on the mountains may make you think these are old pictures. Actually they were taken April 2 when I went up to pick up my bust of Sol LeWitt which had been part of MoCA's Exchange With Sol LeWitt.

North Adams is an old mill town and the complex of buildings that house MoCA were the main mill, first as Arnold Print Works and then as Sprague Electric.

The building on the left is one of two that has been converted to offices for companies which lease the space. It is one of two buildings producing revenue this way to help support MoCA . Neat idea, n'est-ce pas? Don't feel badly if you can't read that French phrase. It means isn't it. You'll be pleased to know after taking six years of French in elementary school, high school and college, I couldn't spell it. My first stab was nes pas. Finally I had to go to Google Translate.




April 5, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


MASS MoCA's second opening reception Saturday night was for a show set up by two Williams College graduate students serving a sophisticated internship at the museum. Instead of doing the low-level jobs usually assigned to interns, they are performing at the top of the heap - curating a big show in a major museum.

Emily Leisz Carr and Oliver Wunsch, 23 and 25 respectively, are the students responsible for this eye-catching exhibit - Memery: Imitation, Memory, and Internet Culture - in which nine artists mine the Internet for their raw material.


Carr, seen in the photo above, and Wunsch are part of the college's vaunted Graduate Program in the History of Art, a program that often provides its students with opportunities like this. The college has produced generations of top ranking art professionals, often referred to as the "Williams Mafia." Its members include: Thomas Krens, whose expansive vision included the iconic Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, and  MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson, who after years of struggle got MASS MoCA up and running in 1999 against heavy odds.

Projections on the screen seen above and below were the pivot point in the first gallery on the third floor. Created by Oliver Laric of Berlin, the images range from ancient classicism to modern cartoons.

The piece at the top of this post is Penelope Umbrico's Suns From Flickr. The largest work in the exhibit, it is composed of hundreds of photos of sunsets found on the photo-sharing site.

While Umbrico's work is composed of suns, the work of another artist in the same gallery, Constant Dullaart has taken the sun out of his sunset shots. In No Sunshine Dullaart appears to darken the originals, reflecting the loss.



Mark Callahan of Athens, Georgia, stretches a 30-second internet video of a confused Miss South Carolina into a 24-hour marathon which takes slow motion to infinity.

The MoCA receptions are interesting not only for their art but for the artful attire of some of the crowd. For example here are Jennifer Trainer Thompson, who worked tirelessly with Joe Thompson to bring the museum to life, and Elizabeth Bennett, the museum's membership coordinator.

Thompson's skirt was designed by J. Morgan Puett, an artist who has been shown at the museum. It consists of buttoned together panels of material cut to match the floor blueprints of the buildings.





April 3, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

The boat that was at Flamingo Motors in Williamstown for a long time is now in dry dock at MASS MoCA and is part of Nari Ward's show, Sub Mirage Lignum, which opened last night with a reception at the North Adams museum.

The 30-foot boat is teamed up with this giant minnow trap - it must be about 60 feet long. The trap may be trying to lure in bigger game: the boat.

See what I mean. Actually that thought wasn't mine. I borrowed it from either Joe Thompson, MoCA's director, or Denise Markonish, the show's curator. How do you like this precise reporting?

There seems to be room for the beat up cabin cruiser in the belly of the beast, which up to now has been catching cast off furniture from the Salvation Army.

Here are Thompson, left, and Ward at the opening party.  The artist, who was born in Jamaica, lives and works in New York City, where he teaches at Hunter College.

The boat looks to me like the one that long ago patrolled the pond at the Spruces mobile home park in Williamstown, the place on Route 2 with the big white lions at the gate. No one I talked to last night went back that far. If I'm right - or wrong - let me know.

Ward's work takes up four rooms on MoCA's 2nd floor, which also houses Katherina Grosse's spray painted arctic wonderland.

One of the Ward galleries houses a crew of 10-foot tall snowmen he calls Mango Tourists. They are surfaced in foam rubber that is dotted with capacitors and resisters, electrical components that used to be manufactured at MoCA when it was Sprague Electric.

Here is Rosemarie Thomas who is a volunteer and possibly MASS
MoCA's most loyal fan. She has been an usher at MoCA for 12 years and for more than 40 years before that worked for Sprague Electric, which owned the factory complex that MASS MoCA occupies. At Sprague she made some of the electrical components, below, that stud the snowmen, along with large mango seeds.

These parts are not all Ward recycled. The wood for the minnow trap comes from the special floor that was laid for the Anselm Kiefer exhibit and ripped up when his work was taken down. That flooring was also used by Ward to build four shacks reminiscent of Jamaican fish stalls. The boat, cut in four to get it into the museum, is festooned with clear plastic filament that Tobias Putrih used in his gleaming homage to the Hoosac Tunnel that graced this space prior to Ward's. The clear plastic that supports the boat was left over from the upside down house by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle.

As in Putrih's piece the filament catches the light in Ward's reuse.

I almost forgot, this support for the thin end of Ward's was found in the factory's old power plant. Joe Thompson said that Nari Ward spent the last two months at the museum, which provided studio space, to scout out elements for his work and to fabricate it.

Last year ARTnews magazine asked experts to name underrated and overlooked artists, from Old Masters to avant-garde innovators. One of them was Ward.

"The poetics of ruins, of cast-off and consumed scraps, is the distinctive feature of the work of Jamaican artist Nari Ward," said press material for a Beijing show last year. It went on to say he instilled these material s with spirituality, powerful physicality and emotional echoes.

As the state of ruin-hood approaches for me, I like what the writer said about spinning cast-offs into something new and powerful.

Above and below are a few of the faces in the crowd last night. Denise Markonish, below in the center, conducted a tour through the Ward galleries before the reception. Here she talked with several who lingered.

MoCA launched two shows last night. But it's 2:05 a.m. and I've run out of steam. I'll show you photos from the second in a coming post. The exhibit, mounted by two Williams graduate students, is very interesting, as is its name Memery: Imitation, Memory, and internet Culture.



April 1, 2011

In two parts. A is the one planned for April 1 and B's the one I forgot to post March 31.


By Grier Horner/ All Rights Reserved

I still think about the times I ran with wolves. Once you've been with the pack you can't forget.

I don't know where this small pack came from or where it went. Wolves are supposedly extinct in New England.

The first night I answered their call, they growled as I approached through the tall grass. Stiff legged they sniffed my crotch, my butt, my feet. Somehow I wasn't afraid. Maybe that's why they accepted me. Maybe they just liked the way I dressed.

The one in this picture - I called him Lobo - let me put my arm around him, pet him like a dog. He'd roll over on his back and I'd scratch his belly. Lobo was nothing like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.

The moon lit our way as we would lope across the Beautiful Field, cut past the isolated house where our presence made the resident dog cower, out across the golf course and then back into the woods, crashing through the underbrush to the Piggery and running free along the ridge.

Scrambling up the hillside to the ridge one night, I stopped. Lobo circled back to find me bent over, hands on my knees, gasping for air. He nuzzled me and ran a few paces, expecting me to follow. When I didn't he stopped and looked back at me. Then he took off, as if he realized what I did: Age had descended.


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a big blowup of the passport picture of my mother, a picture I have continued to tamper - including prior enlargements - on my computer. This blowup was done by Massive Graphics in Pittsfield and they have a machine that pressed it onto a 4' x 2' panel that I had painted black.

Here is a smaller and earlier version on a 3' x 2' panel. In this case I produced the image on my printer. It is on four sheets tiled together. That image is 27 inches high. The new one is 46 inches high.

In the process of doctoring the photo for the Graphics blowup, I added some orange and a some grayed-down lavender. My idea of blowing it up is to try to duplicate the Chuck Close effect. You know the portraits he does that are indecipherable up close, but suddenly pop into focus as you back away.

Here's a closeup of one section of the blowup. Can you tell what part of the face it is? Try walking away from your computer screen. Do you hit a point where you can? So far my experiment isn't working well. Even at close range the mouth is too well defined and gives it away. Maybe I have to go to an eight foot high image.

In any case I like the photo in its latest guise. I'm just not sure where, if anywhere, it goes from here.



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