Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer


Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man


August 30, 2011



Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is Dolla Sapeta of South Africa and one of his recent paintings - one he has sold since I took this shot - at his Pittsfield studio during a residency that brought he and another artist first to Art Omni in Ghent, New York, and then to Pittsfield.

Charismatic and dedicated, Sapeta in his work satirizes what he sees as the corruption in government and institutions and the people's lack of a moral compass. And he is not talking about the sins of the past that debased his people but the present - the period since the nation threw off the dark cloak of Apartheid.

Neither whites nor blacks are working in the interests of realizing meaningful freedom and economic opportunity for all, he contends. In his anger about the status quo, he has come up with some brilliant images. To see his new website, with its reproductions of many of his paintings, click here.

This and the remaining photos supplied by the artist

Called the Lost Supper - this is the left panel of a triptych that is his take on the Last Supper - the men at the table don't inspire confidence or optimism. Some of the figures, like the man whose mouth is tied up like a clenched fist, reoccur in his work. He gives them names like Puppet Master and Institution Chicken Boy.

This one is from his Puppet Master series. And the one below is titled Don't Blame Me. Notice how the same face is used in both.

Sapeta, 44, grew up and works in the township of New Brighton - a mainly black slum outside Port Elizabeth. When he was young he experienced the upheaval of police raids, school boycotts, riots, burning and a disintegrating family. A rebel with a cause, he says he stays there because it keeps him close to his roots and is a constant reminder of the need for economic opportunity for the nation's poor. It is not the safest of places, he says, but he is known and comfortable there.

Launched as a pilot program in July last year, the Art Omi/Berkshire Residency Exchange Program is a partnership between Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, New York, and the Storefront Artist Project and the Ferrin Gallery, both in Pittsfield. It provides a four-week residency for two foreign artists annually. Because he sold a painting here, Sapeta has been able to extend his stay in Pittsfield by well over a month, a period in which he intends to scout out New York City galleries.

This is Sapeta's ominous Enter...the Doors of Education are Open. And below Pirate of the Cape.



Despite his dismay at the way post Apartheid South Africa has gone, Sapeta says he wouldn't think of leaving it, acknowledging that it is an exciting thing to be part of a nation that has scraped an oppressive system and now has the potential to remake itself.



August 28, 2011

Photo by Grier Horner

I took this picture of myself with my iMac computer. It has a built in camera. I like the way the reds and oranges are suspended above the plain of the skin, almost like they were put on with a brush. The photo also captures part of  one of my large paintings. The man in the painting is me. So here we have a double self portrait. Talk about getting too much of a bad thing.

While I'm writing this at 2 a.m., I'm listening to the rain pound on the roof overhead. The hurricane, if you can still call it that, should be hitting here - Pittsfield, Massachusetts - late this morning.

Yesterday we had breakfast with friends and spent the rest of the day battening down the hatches at our house.

The only thing I'm really worried about now is "the pit" behind my studio. It's a deep gravel-filled dry well. In extreme conditions it can fill and overflow. If it does the water will spill through the sliding glass doors into my studio. I have a pump that will keep that from happening. I just have to keep my fingers crossed that we have electricity when I need it.

The winds being predicted are no longer hurricane force. The latest forecast puts them at 35 to 50 when the storm hits. There's no wind now.

Here's wishing all of us in New England good luck with the storm.



August 26, 2011

Watch out. It's 3 a.m. and I've just started my blog. Late even by my night-shift standard. And I'm feeling ornery, anti wealth, anti greed, anti everything, I guess. The two houses in this post triggered my current ill temper.

This is a house - as in the one in the third and fourth photos - that captures my imagination architecturally. Heroically situated on the cliffs along a great stretch of ocean front in California, it is in a tastefully developed project called Sea Ranch. Sea Ranch is a place I've seen pictures of over the years and thought I would love to live.

But tonight this house - advertized for $5.5 million by Sotheby's Realty - offends me for some reason. Too indulgent? I don't know. It's making me mad looking at it.

But I shouldn't begrudge the rich reaping the rewards of money, should I? If you like this one you can find out more about it by going to http://sothebysrealty.com/eng/sales/jenner-ca-usa.


Next in my diatribe is this $12 million home (below)in Denmark. It isn't for sale. It was simply featured in the New York Times.

This is the second floor living room of the house, a room I would love and would love to have designed. Yet somehow I begrudge the guy who built it and his 82-foot lap pool in the basement. And he's a guy doing useful work like working on anti-cancer drugs. Doesn't he deserve some rewards for his good work? What's my problem? Stop me before I sound un-American again. It's 3:58 a.m. Good night.




August 24, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a work in progress. Although it isn't that far from being finished. Six feet high and four feet wide, it is part of the Runway series, the second painted on top of an earlier painting.

Below you can see what the original looked like if you subtract the lettering. It was part of the 36-painting Jeanne d'Arc series. In that guise what is now the top would have been the bottom.

In the new painting the model and the gown are painted in oil - the first time I have shifted from acrylics in quite a while. It is the first Runway painting - I think there are eight now - in which I used oil. So far I have only used pallet knives and my fingers on the gown, face and hands - which have to be scaled down a little.

A grid was laid over the original to help guide me in sketching in the figure.

P.S. Yesterday morning I went to my doctor for my semi-annual visit.

"I want a 10-year plan," I told him, by which I meant a plan that would help me live 10 more healthy years.

He suggested my present regimen should do it.

"But aren't you selling yourself a little short?" he asked.

"Well 10 years would bring me to 86," I said.

But I acknowledged that if I got to 85 and still felt good, I wouldn't want to kick the bucket at 86. I didn't ask him what he thought would be a reasonable number to shoot for.



August 22, 2011

Colleen Surprise Jones with her painting Think Tank. Photos by Grier Horner

Come to the Intermodal Transit Station and take a walk on the wild side with Colleen Surprise Jones.

The downtown Pittsfield gallery located on Columbus Avenue is operated by Berkshire Community College and is open from 2 to 5 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But you don't have to be there when the gallery's doors are open in order to see it. Plate glass forms the gallery's front wall and you can get a clear view of the paintings in daylight and well into the night.

As always she brings passion to her art and here it conveys a sense of urgency, energy and chaos.


The local artist's two biggest paintings, Portrait of My Heart and Think Tank hang side by side.

In  Common Thread, above, she has imposed a sense of order with the white lines. The painting below is Strangulation.

In her installation below, the squares are strung from the board attached to the wall and are free to swing if there were a breeze. From the scribbling on the wall you can see she hasn't learned - fortunately - to color between the lines.



August 20, 2011

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

We drove up Mount Greylock the other evening. It was our first time this year. It's a place of such beauty we wondered why we don't go up more often. I took some shots of the setting sun. Here are a couple.



At 3,492 feet Greylock is Massachusetts' highest peak. It's eight miles up its twisting road - eight luxuriously smooth miles since its reconstruction several years ago.


I used to climb it on my bike. I wish I still could. The ride up was work but the ride down was exhilarating. Once I pedaled up on January 1 on a day when the snow was only about an inch deep.

On another winter descent I skidded in a patch of snow and landed on the side of my head. Those were the days before I wore a helmet. Almost knocked myself out.

It is a rare winter when you can ride up. Usually the snow comes early there, piles deep and stays until spring.





August 18, 2011

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

We're back on my regular site thanks to Loveesh at Adobe. He tamed the Lion that ate my blog-writting software. More on that later.

Today I'm making an unusual pitch, asking for your VOTE.

No, I'm not running for office. But I have entered a contest called One Life Photos 2011 that has $50,000 in prizes. They've suggested the entrants drum up votes for their pictures.

The photo above of a girl and her uncle making funny faces for the computer camera is one of the five I've entered. To see them all, and to vote - assuming you like what you see - click here.

As of 9:45 a.m. there were 16 votes.

By the way, there's still time to enter the contest yourself. You get to the starting point by using this link.

Back to Loveesh Kumar who got me back online. He had the patience of Job and the skill of - who's Job's equivalent in skill? He managed to guide this nontechie through the intricacies of installing the software - Contribute - on which I do my blog.

Adobe through Loveesh undid the damage that Apple had done when I installed their new operating system - Lion. It simply ate Contribute and spit it out - along with another program I use.

I called up and told Apple I had paid good money for Contribute and the custom blog and webpage designed - I think brilliantly - by Marita Carroll of the designdept.com. And, I said in effect, Apple had robbed me. Their guy was very pleasant but didn't offer a solution other than returning to the old operating system.

He also assured me that Adobe would be making changes that allow the Lion to lie down with the lamb (Contribute). And Adobe has.



August 14, 2011


Adobe has fixed it for me, bless its heart. See my August 18 post.


August 12, 2011

TV screen shots by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

In a blatant move to boost my circulation, I decided to run unflattering pictures of Michele Bachmann - just like Newsweek.

So I aimed my Canon at the screen during Fox’s live telecast of the debate between GOP candidates for president last night.

I took 25 shots of her. I discovered something. It is pretty hard to get a shot of her in which she doesn’t look attractive.

In the critics’ eyes it’s the crazed eyes in the Newsweek shot that do it. I didn't agree until I isolated the eyes.


Here’s some of what was being said about the cover, as written by Stephanie Condon for CBS News in its Political Hotsheet on the internet:

“Conservative bloggers immediately charged that the magazine was showing a liberal media bias against the Tea Party-aligned congresswoman from Minnesota, while others accused Newsweek of sexism.

“Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin was one of the first to criticize the magazine for "bottom-of-the-barrel moonbat photo cliches about conservative female public figures."


“Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women told the Daily Caller the Newsweek cover was sexist.

"Gloria Steinem has a very simple test: If this were done to a man or would it ever be done to a man - has it ever been done to a man? Surely this has never been done to a man," O'Neill said. "What they are saying of a woman who is a serious contender for president of the United States of America...They are basically casting her as a nut job."





August 10 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Three works by the African artist El Anatusi are lighting up the galleries at the Stone Hill Center at the Clark Art  Institute in Williamstown.

The brilliant piece above, Intermittent Signals, 2009, is 35 feet long. Stone Hill is the Clark's new art restoration facility.


El Anatsui makes these hangings from aluminum bottle caps salvaged from liquor bottles. The flattened caps are sewn together with copper wirevand provide symbolic value because liquor was an exchange used in the slave trade.

El Anatsui, who is 67,only gained international recognition in 2004. But since then has been a phenomenon in the global art world. Gary Tinterow, the modern art curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, said he was "blown away" by El Anatsui's work the first time he saw it. So much so that he arranged for the Met to buy one the same day, the New York Times reported

The show is up through October 16.

El Anatsui isn't the only one utilizing bottles at the Clark. During his break this young employee was practicing balancing a bottle on his head while walking.




August 8, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I ran across this handsome young couple in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on my Gallery Quest last week. I asked them if they’d mind if I shot a few pictures. They said it would be OK. I asked where they were from. Berlin.

The girl is one of the prettiest young women I have seen. And her skin has an incredible freshness.





The apparition above in the pink shorts, black knee-high socks and straw hat is me. The T-shirt, which Babbie had printed for me for Christmas, says Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll.) A waitress in Dover Plains where I ate before taking the train to New York said she liked the shorts. A woman outside a gallery got a kick out of the T-shirt.

Below is a  woman who looks better in pink than I do, as hard as that may be to grasp. Actually my shorts are supposed to be orange. Babbie laughed when they arrived in the mail and asked why in the world I had bought pink pants. I insisted they were orange, not wanting to traipse around in pink.

And finally we have part of the crew at Trestle at Tenth, which has become my favorite place to eat in Chelsea to eat and get a drink. Talking of drinks there’s my gin martini on the rocks.






August 6, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

In Manhattan Thursday I rode the subways back and forth from Grand Central to Chelsea. Along the way I took pictures. Here are some of them.




Unlike the other pictures, the one of the boy sleeping in his father's arms was taken after the passengers disembarked at Grand Central from the Metro North train from Wassaic.

Despite the Esprit shopping bag these women, like most riders underground, don't look very spirited. Who wo?


The Contribute softwear on which I do this blog is still going haywire. Minutes elapse from the time I type until the words appear on the screen. It makes correcting the script very, very tricky. If you look back at yesterday's you can see I just abandoned ship.

In fact my blogger's life has been very hard since last week when I bought Apple's new operating system, Lion.

Contribute won't work on Lion. I tell Apple that they just cost me a whole bunch of money because I had paid a designer to set up my blog on Contribute. Did Apple apologize. No, but they did offer to let me go back to snow leopard or whatever fleet footed cat they were using before. Now I' ll go read the Times on my other computer for a while  as I wait for what I've just written to appear.




August 4, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Some more Provincetown pictures, this time focusing mostly on art.   This powerful reclining nude graces the front lawn of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Even though the guy at the desk went out of his way to get me the name of the sculptor I lost it. To that guy and to the artist, my apologies.

This is the door knocker on the Dalla Cusina restaurant on Commercial Street. Certainly  that's a piece of art if there ever was one.


I liked the red trees in front of the colonial house next to the museum. I think the building is an annex.  Oh,, did I mention that I had a painting in a group show at the museum some years ago.

The trees by the way are for sale very reasonably, I thought , at $1,300. Their title was something poetic, like, Once We Were a Forest. Again I had the artist's name but lost it.

The painter Bernd Haussmann was being shown at the museum. Some of his paintings were silver and others contained bright colors. When they hung near each other, the silver painting picked up the color of its neighbor. This is a detail of one of Haussmann's paintings. I love the color and the surface.

For some reason the letters are not appearing as I type them. I'll get through this whole paragraph before the words appear. It's the second post in a row where I've had trouble with letters. Now the trouble is I can't see what I've written for several minutes. t sed try to clean up all the mistakes. Vut it takes forever for the revisions to schow on the screen. So everything is probably going to come out screwey. The other night the what I'vec done for several minutes. Then I go into the sentences anasleep with a finker on the keyboard.d try to clean things up. But since nothing happens while you're looking, it takes a while to find out if you fixed things or made them worse. I'm just giving up trying to fix the long Iparagraph above. You'll see what I mean.If you read my August 2 pos

t you noticed that I had a long line of "k"s . TIeas doing the babove  was sporting some art on hthe back of her necklog on my laptop sittin on a sofa when I fell asleep with a finger on the "k". When I woke up a couple hours later I was so groggy I couldn't figure out how to fix it. I'll go down to that post after I'm through with this one and make some repairs.


This young woman sported some art on her neck. I wish I could make out what it says. AAnd her haircut had seemed pretty arty too.. fHelp. See what I mean?

I've admired this wolf in front of the Lola Love shop for several years. Put whether it's the tourists or the weather or a combination of both, he's looking pretty tattered and torn.

Suspended by a metal rod inha bacrking its way through his body, very heavy g, he once was airborne., leapvery heavy ing to the attack.Someone must have sat on him and bent the rod. Now he's brought low, a front paw on the sidewalk, but still menacing. Stuffed, he doesn't know that I useP to run with some of his rellaftives in mittsield. See My April 1 post.

Augst 2, 2011

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

We spent some time in Wellfleet on Cape Cod recently. I got this photo at our secret beach. You see four people and a dog out there? Well this is not a well kept secret.

This beachcomber is braving a walk over mossy stones to get to the sandbar. Just looking at the picture makes the soles of my feet anxious.

This hat came from the Mad Hatter in Provincetown. Straw hats have made a big comeback. But the ones in favor have a narrow 2-inch brim, bestowing on their wearers a hipster look.

But I like the wide brims like the one on my old one, now relegated to everyday wear. The next time I go to New York City, this one will be perched unhipply on my head to keep the carcinous rays off my tender face. It's a face that's (This endless stream of "k"s and "d"s occurred when I fell asleep at the computer while writing this the other night)fkkkk (kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddkddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddklllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll'skkkkksssssssssssssssssssdaffsshas been the locale of a couple skin cancers, only one serious enough to send

I wanted him to leave me with a dueling scar over my right eyebrow. But he refused, sewing up the incision so neatly that even I can't find it.

I asked the plastic surgeon if he could make me look like Clint Eastwood.

"why would you want to look like Clint Eastwood?" he asked. "He's an old man."

Well as old men go, Clint's cool. I wouldn't mind wandering around wearing his face. I'd even sign autographs if people asked. They'd probably what kind of a guy Eastwood is, signing their napkins and Tshirts Grier Horner.


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