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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

July 30, 2009

This picture has been viewed more times than any other on my blog since I started Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man in June 2006.

The subject is Anita McFarland who I photographed at the Coltsville Shopping Center in Pittsfield.

Not surprisingly when I was shooting photos of her in the parking lot, she drew whistles from a the men in a pickup truck that drove by.

And she's still drawing viewers. Of the 46,000 hits this site has received so far this month, 111 of them were for Anita. That may not seem like much, but that photo is in the top 10 items looked at month after month since it first appeared August 8, 2006.

The brother of the center's owner was an art collector and had the ship installed in the parking lot.

When the center was sold, the ship was removed. I hated to see it go, but many people in Pittsfield hated it.

To see a large version of this photo, go to this link and click on the picture.



July 28, 2009

This is Runway No. 5 starring Sienna Miller, a British actress, and a Chinese battle tank. who knows how the standoff will end. If you'd like to see a blowup of this shot go to Blogspot and click on the photo.

It's hard for me to believe but I've been working on this off and on for the whole month of July - minus the week I spent on the Cape.

That's frustrating because my goal is to produce one of these paintings every two weeks.

The painting, like all of them in the series, is 6 feet by 4 feet and is done with fluid acrylics on canvas.

Here's the series so far:











July 26, 2009

Max Mara design

When I worked at The Eagle we used to play a game called "what to wear to the Christmas party." I guess it was pretty sexist because it always involved dresses.

And it really wasn't much of a game. But occasionally when someone would spot a picture of a knockout dress or bizarre outfit it would get posted on the bulleting board under the heading "what to wear to the Christmas party."

Now I play that sort of a game a lot. But it's what designer outfit to paint in my Runway series. Here are a couple under consideration. All the photos were taken from the New York Times and were shot by Catwalking/Getty Images.

Any of these, by the way, would have caused as big a sensation as S's red wool dress or R's white go-go boots.

Dsquared design

Missoni design



July 24, 2009

My granddaughter Riley Nichols took 2nd in the championship bike race sponsored by the Berkshire Cycling Association at the Pittsfield Common last evening.

That's her at the left on the podium. The other four top finishers were boys. She lead the race for the first 11/2 laps but then Kevin took over the lead for the rest of the 3 lap competition.

In the girls' freestyle race, Riley was the winner.

"I think she has a some of Mike in her," said Tom Martin, owner of Ordinary Cycles. He was referring to my son Michael, who was probably the best bike racer ever produced by the Berkshires.

Also making an appearance last evening was Riley's mother, Shannon, in a race for parents. She didn't win but she and the other competitors made us smile. The photo below shows the start of the race. She's battling it out with the men.



July 24, 2009

Update. Lucy MacGillis show at the Hoadley Gallery in Lenox (See my July 10 post) was a big hit. Art critic Keith Shaw reported in The Berkshire Eagle yesterday that it took in $35,000 on the first weekend. Wow. Galleries around here don't see sales like that.



July 10, 2009

Lucy MacGillis, a Pittsfield native who lives and paints in Italy, has a new show at the Hoadley Gallery, 21 Church Street, in Lenox. It's really something. The opening is Saturday from 5 to 7. And Lucy will be there.

In the past she has had shows at Hoadley that have sold out.

Earlier this year she had shows in Rome and Ravello. With

success, her prices have been going up - the one in the photo at the top is $18,000. (She has smaller works at lower prices.)

In this economy, it will be interesting to see whether as many of her paintings get snapped up.

My wife Babbie ( that's her in the top photo ) and I have had an ongoing debate whether large paintings are appropriate for small rooms. I think this big  work in the gallery's intimate back room proves that they can.

In any case, Lucy after nine years there, continues to thrive in Italy. She lives in Monte Castello di Vibio with her son Vittorio, 3.

"I painted this series in the gardens of Villa Rufolo in Ravello on the Amalfi coast this spring," Lucy (pictured at the right) says on the card for the show. "The cold winter light gradually shifted to warm sunlight, the rains stopped.

"In this old villa with its famously breathtaking view down to the sea, I filled my palette with previously unused colors, blues - manganese, cerulean - and cadmium greens that I rarely needed when painting Umbria's earthy hills."

In an article in Berkshires Week in Thursday's Eagle, the author, Judith Monachina, says the

painter "brought her son to his caregiver each day and walked into the villa's gates at about 9 each morning...

"'I would just walk in like it was my office,' she (MacGillis) said.

"At the end of the day," Monachina continued, "she picked up Vito and the two would join the general migration to the piazza, where they stayed until dinner, at around 8."

Sounds like a good life.

Thursday night I went to another show. At Berkshire Community College's South County branch in Great Barrington, this one featured the work of  Jackie Kearns, whose studio is in downtown Pittsfield.

Her latest painting shows her work has taken an exciting

new direction. She is an artist it will be interesting to watch over the next few years.

In the photo below, Jackie (in the green blouse), is talking artist to artist with Colleen Quinn about her latest painting.

Coming off a solo show at Gallery Boreas in Lenox, Quinn has an opening of her own on Third Thursday in Pittsfield this coming week.

It will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Berkshire Community College Gallery at the Intermodal Transportation Center, 1 Columbus Avenue, in downtown Pittsfield.



July 8, 2009

Here's my latest work in progress, Runway 5. The canvas is tacked to the studio wall. That's the way I usually paint figurative work.

The Jeanne d'Arc series was painted on canvas I had stretched on wooden supports. That way I could tilt them to pour the paint and control its flow.

The model in this shot is Sienna Miller, a British actress. Unfortunately I couldn't get her to come in to pose so I blew up photos from the internet.

In fact I've never seen anyone wear a dress like this. I guess I don't travel in the right circles for that.

I like the Chinese tank but I still need to do more work on the dress, back, hands and head.



July 6, 2009

I got a bottle of Mustang Sally Shiraz, among other things, for my birthday.

"All you want to do is ride around Sally,

Ride Sally ride

All you want to do is ride around Sally,

Ride Sally ride..."

Wilson Picket's song - I like the Commitment's version - is a great variety for a wine lover who also loves Mustangs, the name Sally and riding around. We had two Mustang convertibles, a 1966 and a 1972.

The '66 was dark green with a white top. My mother and father had bought the V8 without consulting me - the car nut. I was hurt. After they died it went to me.

I remember crying as I washed it days after my father's death six months after my mother's.

In it we drove across America in 1969 with Shannon, 6, and Eric, 4, in the back seat separated by a duffle bag. We were headed to Stamford University where I had a six-month journalism fellowship. Unbelievably they were good the whole trip. No infighting. I guess it was just that we had psyched them up for the trip.

Things returned to normal on a day trip. Crossing the Golden Gate bridge, Eric stuck bubble gum in Shannon's hair.

As the car aged the floor in the foot wells rusted out unbeknownst (how often do you get to use that wonderfully archaic word) to me. I didn't realize it until I noticed a bulge under the car. The carpet had dropped through a big hole in the left rear foot well. In the day's before seatbelt laws, that's where Eric liked to stand when we drove around town.

Thanks DuPont. If it hadn't been for the toughness of your nylon carpeting, he would have fallen through.

Eric gave me this bottle when we were scouting out a wine shop in Portsmouth, N.H., this spring.

My granddaughter Riley snapped the shot of me and the bottle, along with 63 others during a family birthday party June 30. I was 74. I'm looking forward to sampling the Mustang Sally.


July 4, 2009

Another thing I saw at MoMA on Monday's Manhattan sojourn with Gae was this great sculpture of Lyndon Johnson by Marisol.

There he is a blockhead created on a plywood box, his face drawn, his body painted, his ears, nose, chin and hand - which holds the three Birds in his life - carved out and attached. She clearly was no fan of LBJ when she created this portrait.

It made me laugh out loud when I saw it. And I am still one of those Americans split by LBJ's actions: deeply admiring his groundbreaking work on civil rights and the war on poverty; deeply troubled by his escalation of the Vietnam War.

While critical, it also, for me, captures the man's humanity and complexity in that wonderfully executed face.

Marisol Escobar - for her nom de guerre she reduced her name to Marisol - was born in 1930 in Paris to Venezuelan parents. That makes her 79. As far as I can find out, she is still practicing her art.

I did not see her wonderful self portrait, at the left, but show it to you because I like it so much. It was done in 1984. It comes from her 30-foot wide Self Portrait Looking at The Last Supper (below). And below that is a photo of the American sculptor taken for Life magazine by Walter Sanders in 1957. And finally, there is the brightly colored Three Figures.


July 2, 2009

Gae and I took the train to Manhattan yesterday. After coffee with Lisi and a visit to Sloan- Kettering, the famous cancer center, we hit the Museum of Modern Art.

A highlight for me was this 1944 painting by Clyfford Still, one of the giants of abstract expressionism, and one of my favorites.

His work is going to be enshrined in a new museum dedicated to his work in Denver. It is supposed to open in 2010 and

  house almost 2,400 of Still’s paintings, drawings and prints – roughly 94 percent of his output.

So much of his work remained unsold when he died in 1980 because Still was notoriously difficult to deal with. He wanted to control how and where his stuff was shown.

In his will Still specified that his paintings would go to the American city that would create a

museum to house them. It took almost 25 years to get a


Another of my favorites at MoMA is the 1945 Bell helicopter designed by Arthur Young. It hangs dramatically over the atrium.

We got back to Grand Central Station under pedal power. Doing the cranking was a young Russian, who steered us deftly through rush hour traffic.

It's a great way to look at the city if you don't focus on what would happen if a cab whacked you. Here's a shot of Gae disembarking from the pedicab.

Minutes later we were drinking wine at the Grand Central's Oyster Bar before heading back to the Berkshires.




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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