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


May 30, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Riding the train back to Wassaic Wednesday evening I flipped through a catalogue from one of Jean Miotte's exhibitions and took photos as I did.

Miotte is the 84-year-old French artist who in my mind paints with brushes of acrylic fire. (See my May 28 post.)

I liked the look of the shots. Here are some of them.


Not many artists have their own museum. Miotte does. In 1999 Miotte and his wife bought a former Christmas ornament factory on West 22nd Street in Manhattan and converted to the Chelsea Art Museum.

In the process, the New York Times reported when the museum opened in 2002, the couple had put $11 million into the project. It is a classy place and I suspect the Miotte Foundation has poured a lot more money into it since then.

Work by Miotte is always on display at the institution, which also mounts shows by other artists.



May 28, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner unless otherwise noted

Today I'm featuring two octogenarians who are still painting. Jean Miotte, 84, has been an art hero of mine for some years. The painting at the top is his. Dina Recanati, 80, I just discovered in Chelsea Thursday. Her's is the black painting.

Both are amazing artists. The Miotte is from the 1990s and is huge. The Recanati, large bit much smaller than his, is new.

One - Miotte - has a museum that specializes in his work, the Chelsea Art Museum on West 22nd Street. By coincidence I met him there on Thursday and spoke to him briefly.

"You have been blessed with genius," I told Miotte, now in a wheelchair. He seemed pleased and smiled.

The other - Recanati - has had less fame although she's represented in museums and collections.

If I met her I would tell her the same thing. Blessed with genius. Currently she has a fantastic one-woman show at the Flomenhaft Gallery on West 27th Street.

I am going to devote some space to both individually.

Jean Miotte

The museum's third floor, shown here, is devoted to Miotte. The beauty, drama and passion in works like this moves me deeply.

He is a man whose brush was on fire. This is a picture of Miotte painting, an impressionistic photo I shot from a catalog on the train ride home from the city.

There is a great video of him at work. Take a look. It only lasts a little over a minute.

He's a true action painter. The Frenchman stands staring at his canvas on the wall in his New York studio. Then he loads his house-painter's brush with acrylic, literally rushes the canvas, almost dancing, and in bold strokes applies color. He keeps repeating the process.

"In London in 1948 he did set design and saw the work of Balanchine, the Diaghilev Ballet and Margot Fonteyn. Being exposed to this variety of art was of profound inspiration," the Chelsea Art Museum reports.

In Miotte's words, “My painting is a projection, a succession of acute moments where creation occurs in the midst of spiritual tension and as a result of inner conflicts.”

Since his first solo show in Paris in 1957, he has 227 one-man exhibitions, by my count. This painting taken from his website is from the first solo outing 53 years ago:

The next one is from the 1990s and his current museum show, which is up through June 19. It is mesmerizing


Dina Recanati

Dina Recanati's stunning show at Flomenhaft, is aptly called "Gathering Winds". Eleanor Flomenhaft explains that the new work is the culmination of the artist's explorations over the years.

This 2010 piece is 72" x 48". It's made by shaping cotton material on a canvas.

The cotton retains its folds because she uses an acrylic gel medium that makes the cloth rigid when it dries. (The photo is from the gallery's website.)

Eleanor Flomenhaft showed me through the show which runs through June 19. She told me that Recanati goes into a trance-like state when she works.

The pieces in the gallery have a wonderful flow and authority and subtelty. Flow and authority are characteristics she shares with Miotte. Subtelty isn't part of Miotte's manifesto.

In Recanati's work I feel a connection to antiquity in the sculptural folds of the material.

Like Miotte, she has explored abstraction through a long career, working in a variety of media and modes.

The painting below, taken from her website, shows one of a series of giant unstretched canvases from the 1990s. It is 108" x 144".

Recanati is an impressive sculptor. I love the pieces in the shot below which graces the home page of her website.

"In my sculpture, I deal with survival, which to me means continuity," Recanati says.

There is a sculptural element in the work in this show, which she calls reliefs. This is a detail:

I think it gives you a better idea of her alchemistic ability to turn cotton into cast bronze.

Also in the show are some of her books. "Books, some that are weathered, passing on, relating experiences unwritten," Recanati says.

Recanati was born and raised in Egypt, studied in England and America and currently lives and works in Israel and New York.

Take a look at her website. It's a repository of inspired work.


May 28, 2010

Part  Two

Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

After a long pause in which I've been doing abstracts, I've returned to the Three Graces against the Greek flag.

The painting, which is 6 feet x 4 feet, isn't finished yet. But I did a lot of work on it yesterday and Wednesday. Here's a shot of my hand to prove it.

I think I may start going back to the Runway series. This one's Number Seven.

But then again I still feel the abstract pull of works I've been doing like these:

This is one of the 34 paintings in my Jeanne d'Arc series.


May 26, 2010

Part One


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Babbie and I walked down to Pontoosuc Lake just after sunset on Sunday and I took these shots.

Above is the Woman of the Mountains in silhouette. Below three kids at the Blue Anchor. And at the bottom you're looking at the Tall Pines park. Love the pink clouds.

Babbie says we should go down to the lake more often. She's right.

Part Two

I kidnapped this fragment from a New York Times slideshow last night.  I'm going into Manhattan today but I'm afraid I'm not a high altitude swinger like M.I.A. To see the photos, read the article and maybe even listen to her sing, click this link.




May 24, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here's the latest painting. In this photo there are some bulges in the unstretched canvas because it was spread out on slightly uneven gravel in what we call the Pit. No, there isn't a pendulum.

Speaking of the Pit, here it is with the painting in its natural habitat.

I don't know why I called the Pit its natural habitat. My studio, pictured here, is its natural habitat. The studio overlooks the Pit through sliding glass doors.

Any day now I will be erecting the canopy over the Pit, converting it into a 10' x 10' outdoor studio. My summer atelier as some of the European painters would call it.



May 22, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Babbie has always been a big reader. Literary novels are her thing, but she reads an occasional potboiler - which is appropriate in this shot - and mysteries for a change of pace.

I admire the way she attacks books and the way she remembers them. In the photo above she stops reading just long enough to stir the pot. In the one below she goes back to the book until she needs to stir again.

When she recommends a book, I invariably like it. Some recent ones were Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Both exceptionally good, highly emotional, brilliantly told stories.

I'm throwing in another photo, below, which has nothing to do with reading.

Babbie and I stained the back deck and its eight wide steps after having cleaned them with a Clorox solution two days earlier.

It was hot, very hot, so we took some breaks for water and I kept running a kerchief under water to tie around my neck to keep cool.

Anyway, while I was on a break and Babbie was still at painting, I noticed that our cat, Evalene, who loves Babbie, was watching her work.





May 20, 2010

Painting by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I painted this one on Monday. I love it. It covers over an old painting of a cross, which I guess is slightly sacrilegious.

This is 48.5" x 24.5" and is acrylic on a panel. I painted another good one in the same mode, but much larger, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

To celebrate a good three days' work, I treated myself to a Manhattan. The glass reminds me of the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island - the one that almost melted down.




May 18, 2010


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

When I was in grammar school our teachers never did this. Unfortunately. These were Egremont School staff at the grande finale of the schools annual Talent Show.

In my original post I had featured mostly shots of the kids performing. But after conversations with a trusted advisor, I decided not to put these youngsters' images out over the internet.



Among the dancers was our daughter Shannon, one of the teachers.

This wasn't slow dancing. It was frenetic. I wish I could let you see the video, from which these pictures are taken. But to do that I'd have to post it on YouTube.

Needless to say the kids in the packed auditorium at Herberg Middle School, borrowed for the night, thought this all was wonderful - which it was.

There were cameo appearances.

And to cap it all off, the stage was darkened and the strobe lights flashed. The kindergarten through fifth graders went wild.




May 16, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Let's roll back the calendar to late April, late April in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. This skater, who streaked past me a moment earlier, is now stalled by traffic.

A few years ago, skaters were all over Manhattan, mixing it up with traffic. Many used the inline skates to get to work as well as for exercise. They seemed very vulnerable. It was a fad. Now the street skaters are few.

But this young woman and other hearty souls have keep the sport from vanishing. Here she gets a green light and shoves off. From her black arm band you can tell she's monitoring her heart rate, as many athletes do during training.

This parting shot is a reminder of how invitingly green some city streets are now that Spring has arrived.


May 14, 2010

Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Now comes Number Five in the new series. I'm cranking them out. Some nice brush strokes in the lower left. This photo was taken outdoors and the sunlight highlighted them.

Like the others in the series this one is made from recycled acrylic paint, except for the background, the red circle, which I painted, and the drips, which I dripped. It is 3' x 2'.

This blog posts every other day. But I just noticed a gap. I thought today's was the 13th. But I looked at the calendar and it's the 14th.

A lost day. I don't know where it went. But at least it wasn't a lost weekend.

I unearthed this painting of Marion Cotillard, the French actress, a couple weeks ago. It's small, 18" x 14". But I think I'm getting to like small better than I used to. I like the looseness of this one.

Here's a photo of Ms. Cotillard. I'd like to credit the photographer but couldn't locate his or her name.

In any case you can see that this Academy Award winning French actress is beautiful. One thing not so attractive: I just read that she is a 9/11 doubter. Hard to believe she's that gullible.

Her portrayal of a sick, drug addicted Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose was stunning and she deserved her best actress Oscar.


May 11, 2010

Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here are Number 4 (above) and Number 3 (below) in the series I've done in the last week or 10 days. They're collages put together with pieces of acrylic paint I peeled from empty paint cans and from the containers I used to catch the excess paint as it spilled off the 32 paintings in the Jeanne d' Arc series. For the first two of this series see my May 7 post.

I haven't decided what to call this group of paintings. Pretty soon I'm  going to run out of the salvaged paint. So I'll have to make some more. I don't know whether that means doing some more drip paintings or simply pouring paint in containers, letting it dry, and then strip mining it.

Both of these paintings are 3' x 2'. Unlike most of my work, these are on canvases I bought pre-stretched. I'd love to know what you think of these.  If you feel like it you can let me know by hitting the Contact box at the top of the blog. That paves the way for an email. Unfortunately there are no provisions for leaving comments on the blog itself.

P.S. This was written on my laptop in front of a fire we lit this evening to take the chill from the living room. Not a bad life.




May 9, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

When we left the Ferrin Gallery about 6 Saturday evening, this is what we saw across North Street. The play of light and dark was stunning.

It had been one of those days that couldn't make up its mind. It would rain and then the sun would break through. That pattern had been repeated over and over. Before we got to the car, it was raining.

Driving home Babbie asked me to pull into the Kowalczyk brothers development, which boarders the end of our street. There the sky show continued. Look how only the garage catches the light. And look at those clouds.

At home a few minutes later I got this shot of hearts (Jim Dine's) and flowers (fake) before the sun once more was curtained by rain.



May 7, 2010

(Updated May 8)

Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Since last winter's solo show at Bard College at Simon's Rock and since stopping work on the Runway Series (above) , I've been a painter in search of his next series.

A complicating factor is that I've been torn between figurative and abstract.

You can see one turn I took in the Three Graces that I painted (below) but didn't finish.

After that I was messing around with abstracts, the latest of which are the two I did this week (below).


These are collages made with recycled acrylic.The first is 3' x 2'; the second 48" x 33". Maybe you can get a better idea of what I'm doing in these from the following details.


The approach came from the angel wing in the Bard show. And then I used it again this year in the next two paintings.

The acrylic pieces I'm using comes largely from the 32 Jeanne d'Arc paintings I did in 2008. I caught the surplus paint dripping from the canvases in containers (below).

Then I found myself absently peeling the paint out of the containers. Then I started saving the pieces. I got more from empty cans of paint. I have one big pile of peeled paint.

Still, I haven't figured out where I'm going. It's the first time I've finished one series without knowing what I'd be doing next. It's disconcerting. But I'm not sure it's a terrible place to be.

P.S. Looking at all these cans of paint makes me want to plunge into something exciting.


May 5, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner

I'm something of a tree hugger. For Earth Day I favor planting a tree. Here's a species I like. Sculpted by Liz Craft it was planted at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in Chelsea.

The sculpture was one of seven by Craft at Boesky, 509 West 24th Street. I ran across her work during Gallery Quest 9 on April 23.

Unfortunately, if you'd like to see this show, it's too late. Not only are you missing some terrific work, but the chance to call a woman's legs limbs and not sound hopelessly old fashioned.

Gallery Quest 9 concentrated on 22nd Street. I didn't hit them all, so I'll be back there next trip. Here are some shows that are still up.

Patrick Lee's fantastic graphite drawings, Deadly Friends, is at Ameringer-McEnery-Yohe until May 28. The gallery is at 525 West 22nd Street. The green is reflections on the glass, and not part of the work.

A little too serious? How about this young Icelandic artist with the unpronounceable name - Sigga Bjorg Sigurbardottir?

Her Show at Yancey Richardson Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, will be up through May 28.

Here's  Tamar Halpern whose show, Short Trip to Nowhere, has been sold out - which is not common in today's sluggish art market. Her work is so good I can see why. It will be up at D'AMELIO TERRAS-, 525 West 22nd Street, through June 19.

This piece, Broken English, is 70" x 51" and is done with photography and ink on paper. Because she did so well, here's another:


Last up today is Siobhan Liddell, whose show, Ordinary Magic, continues at CRG Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street through May 28. I liked this relatively small, subtle piece a lot.




May 3, 2010

My wife Babbie and her brother Pete last year at Lake Ontario. His wife Zoa is on the lawn.

In memoriam: Pete Guernsey, 83, the patriarch of Babbie's family. His memorial service was held Saturday in Groton, Massachusetts. It overflowed with expressions of love and esteem, with humor and sadness and music, with the sheer pleasure of having known this extraordinary man.


May 1, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Sometimes when I'm sitting on the living room couch, I take photographs of the scene out the west-facing windows. Since this shot was taken, the leaves have sprouted tender-green leaves.

The sky and tree line is one of my favorite subjects. Another thing I love to look at this time of year, is our neighbor's hedge of forsythia.

Last year was a feeble year for forsythia. But this year they are in in their full glory. And they have stayed that way for weeks. Babbie says it's because of the cold weather.

A harbinger of spring they are one of the first shrubs to bloom. And when planted in clusters or in rows, like these, they can be magnificent.

The photo below is obviously more recent because the leaves are popping out on the birch.


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