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Portrait of the Artist as an Old MaN

August 31, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is the Capital One building. At more than 20 stories it is by far the tallest building in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Its light blue - or is it green - glass exterior reflects the sky and, therefore, constantly changes color.

I took this shot of it as night fell and the moon rose.

Babbie and I had heard there was an public observation station high in the building. So the other morning, when the winds were picking up from Isaac, we walked over from our inn.

Babbie asked the guard near the door if there was an observation station. He said there wasn't. She must have looked disappointed because he said he wasn't busy at the moment and offered to take us up to a reception area that once was an ultra-high restaurant.

And so we got a bird's eye view of Lake Chares - the lake and the city - and thanked him for his kindness. I asked him if he'd be insulted if I offered him a tip. He said, graciously, that he wouldn't accept one.

The guard, an older man with a limp, said he is a Baptist minister as well as a bank employee. His first name was Ivory or Ivy. I didn't quite get it. But what I did grasp is that he is a great ambassador for the bank.





August 29, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Resreved

This is a pretty hot shot, isn't it?  Babbie was driving through downtown Lake Charles when we saw the setting sun and it looked amazingly large. I asked her to pull over and I got out and took some shots. I liked this one best.

I had one disappointment with the shots. The sun was red - very, very red. But in the picture as you see it comes out white, except for the red ring around it, which the camera created.

Maybe someone who understands the art of taking pictures of the setting sun can explain to me why I very seldom capture it looking red. I'd love to hear from you. My email is [email protected]

For awhile I was worried that Isaac's course might veer farther west and we'd be hammered by the hurricane. But at this point it looks like we won't get anything worse than a few inches of rain and winds around 40.

We were watching the Republican convention last night. Ann Romney gave a tremendous speech, trying to humanize her husband. As a Massachusetts Democrat I got a kick out of how she spoke glowingly of his term as governor of Massachusetts without mentioning his signal accomplishment - making the state the first to institute universal health care.

His plan was the model for Obamacare, which Romney brands as an evil he will overturn.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Romney proved she can hold an audience in the palm of her hand. She shone on the stage, upstaging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who was the keynote speaker.

Christie spent the biggest part of his speech talking about how great he is, about how he turned New Jersey around by following his late mother's advice that winning respect is more important than winning friends. As his speech wound down he did finally get around to mentioning Romney. And to his credit he did it in a way that brought the crowd to its feet.

Watching Ann Romney made me think that if her husband had half her warmth and charisma he would be the next president. Fortunately he doesn't.



August 24, 2012

Yoram Gil

Yoram Gil entered my life a few years ago - a fresh wind blowing cobwebs of doubt from my brain, a force of nature who made an indelible impression. At that time my confidence was sagging so low I was tripping over it.

A former gallery owner, he was  an "artist career coach” when I responded to his ad. I checked out his references, sent him jpgs of may paintings, and he became my coach. It was a brief but significant encounter - brief because I couldn’t afford to continue, as much as I wanted to.

He liked my Runway and Joan of Arc paintings and told me that the Runway work was a natural for a Manhattan gallery. He urged me to launch a gallery quest. He gave me the confidence and approach to do it. For the last three years I have been scouting out Manhattan galleries. So far I haven’t landed one but I’ve had a wonderful time looking. If I had been able to keep him as my coach, I would probably have succeeded.

Anyway, my connection with Yoram, who I liked immensely, paid an unexpected dividend last winter.



Grier Horner of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Girl in White, Runway Series, 72" x 46", acrylic on canvas, $6,000


Out of the blue, Yoram called to say he was launching an on-line gallery and wanted to represent me. I was delighted and am now one of 21 artists
in his stable at Gallery Yoram Gil. Geographically, 12 are from Israel, eight from the United States and one from Argentina.

At 77 I am the oldest and at 22 Elisa Insua of Buenos Aires, below, is the youngest.



Elisa Insua of Buenos Aires.


Elisa Insua of Buenos Aires, The World According to Eli, 27.5" x 39.4", collage and mixed media on Plexiglas,$1,450


That's me working on a Runway painting.



Grier Horner, from the Jeanne d'Arc series, 57.5 x 42", Acrylic on Silver  Mylar and Canvas, $3,800

It’s not one of these sites you pay to get on. He picks the artists and only makes money if he sells their art. Then he is paid the gallery owner’s standard commission. And as I said in my last post, this is no conventional on-line situation.

He wants to talk at length over sophisticated internet conferencing tools with those who might become customers. He wants them to join live, online sessions with artists they are interested in.


In other words Yoram is doing everything he can - even to the point of offering a money-back guarantee - to replicate online the gallery atmosphere and experience.

Paton Miller  of South Hampton, N.Y., Family of Trees, 78" x 104", Oil on Canvas. This is one of the largest, and at $25,000, most expensive paintings at Gallery Yoram Gil.


Trolling through articles about Yoram on Google, I found a confidence-instilling comment about his gallery from a critic for the Huffington Post, Peter Frank, reminiscing about the gallery Gil closed in the early 2000s.

“I felt that Gil was providing Los Angeles a unique service ... bringing artwork we were unlikely to see anywhere else in the region. It was artwork I’d familiarized myself with while living in New York and visiting Europe but had had faint hope of seeing in LA, no matter how worthy; yet here was this voluble and knowledgeable Israeli, displaying work he (and I) believed in before a notoriously fickle audience, riveting their attention and, ultimately, loyalty. Yoram was not just a dealer; he was a gallerist, a dealer with a vision, one for which he was willing — in fact had — to take risks.”

Roee Derstin of Tel Aviv, Untitled 90, another huge painting.  But because he is young and doesn't have Miller's reputation, it can be purchased for $4,000, a bargain. Like about half the artists in Gallery Yoram Gil, Derstin lives in Israel.

Rachel Woolf of Rosh Pina, Israel, Nude #43, 10.6" x 7.9". At $150 this graphite on paper drawing shows you don't have to spend thousands to become an art collector.


Yoram, as Frank said, is voluble. Once an artist himself, he is an art aficionado. He says something once and then in different words repeats it for emphasis. If it’s something he considers important it’s worth repeating.

He almost bursts with energy and enthusiasm. “I’m out to change the world,” he says.

“I’m working 16 hours a day with no problem and that comes from exercising.”

His motto is: “With an athlete’s heart and an artist’s eye.”

Yoram's claim those attributes is legitimate. “I threw discus for the Israeli national team. Had he not chosen to quit the team because it


Hadar Gar of Pardes Hanna, Israel, E-H Hose, 43" x 47", $6,500


provided no financial aid and he had a family to support, he is confident he would have made the Israeli team for the Olympics in Germany in 1972.

“And I watched my friends being killed at the Munich Olympics.”

Palestinian terrorists called Black September murdered 11 of the Israeli team’s athletes and coaches and a West German policeman.

He moved to the Los Angeles area in 1985, hoping he could make a financial go of his art - painting miniatures on jewelry - in the United States.

That “totally bombed,” he says.

Joan Robey of Los Angeles, Foot Ball, 6" x "9 x 12", $1,500

“That’s when I went back to art dealing. But by the summer of 2006 he closed his gallery's doors. Internet sales were taking away his customers, Yoram said. So he turned to coaching artists while pondering his next step in in the gallery world he cared about so much. As he puts it: "Being an art dealer is a life style, a passion and not a business."

He decided to reinvent himself as GYG, an online gallery that would provide

If you're looking for something very current, how about Hagit Shahal's

"Lizbeth", a 5.9 x 3.9 linocut that won't make much of a dent in your bank account.


potential buyers with the personalized experience they would have received if they had entered his bricks-and-mortar gallery. That's something they don't get on other online galleries, he says.

Yoram spent a long time refining his idea and coming up with new approaches. And it has now been launched.

About his new enterprise he makes this prediction: “It’s going to take on a life of its own.”

Here’s hoping he’s right.

There's more about Gallery Yoram Gil in my August 22 post.




August 22, 2012

This was  the art booth Yoram Gil set up at a Chicago art fair when his contemporary art gallery still operated in the Los Angeles market. He hopes to recreate the gallery experience with his new online art gallery.


Remember that online  art gallery that I posted about last winter? The one that was going to represent me? Well, after revamping its site and refining  its approach, Gallery Yoram Gil  is up and running. It is, I think, a trailblazing way of selling contemporary art on the internet.
 The guy who owns it and who dreamed up the concept is Yoram Gil, a transplanted 73-year-old Israeli who has the energy and the enthusiasm of a 33 year old. As an art dealer in the Los Angeles market from the late 1980s until 2006, he found that the internet was cutting into his sales.


"I had this choice: to keep on fighting the internet or embracing it," Gil told me. 


In embracing it, Gil wanted to end the "anonymous, lonely" business of buying art over the internet by trying to "recreate the social experience" of buying art in a bricks-and-mortar gallery.

"I'm trying to rebuild the old relationship between the buyer and the gallery. If you notice, I don't have a shopping cart on this site," he says. "That's because I want people to talk to me, to ask questions, to know what they're getting. I want people as clients, not just clicking buyers."

His is not one of those online art sites with hundreds of artists. Gil has picked 21 artists to represent. They don't pay to be on his site. He pays them the standard gallery commission on each sale.

Aboriginal Boys - 80, by Carol Sears of Los Angeles

To try to establish the gallery experience online, he has instituted some unusual steps:

1. He is utilizing web conferencing tools in new ways. Art lovers will be able to utilize his Skype accounts so that they and Gil will be in visual as well as verbal contact, personalizing the process.

Using the same technology, he will bring people into scheduled on-screen conversations with the artists. That's an aspect that really appeals to me as an artist.


2. He has devised a system where he can show you what a painting you are interested in would look like on your own walls.

3. And he is offering a money-back guarantee. If you are disappointed in the art it arrives, Gil will return your money - less shipping costs when you ship the work back.
"Everyone I talk to about selling art on the internet says the big obstacle to internet buying is not being able to see the work in person," he says


While the $800 price on this amazing, small piece by Nona Orbach of Israel is clearly fair, will people pay it without having seen it first?

Or would you pay much more for the wonderful and much larger painting by Carol Sears, the five-foot-high Aboriginal Boys shown higher in this post. without having actually seen it?

Or $6,000 for my 6-foot-high Runway series painting below?


Gil says he is convinced he can clear this online hurdle with his guarantee and his highly personalized approach. In fact, he expects few returns.

"I will spend two, three hours with you online, like I would do in the gallery, and discuss why you like this and possibly why you should buy it - or not. We do everything online together and then I send the piece to you on approval."

Many people who buy a work find that after a few months "it melts into the wall" and they don't see it anymore, Gil points out.
Gil is trying to eliminate the "melt" factor by creating an experience where you will have a "dialog" with the art you buy and the artist who created it - "not with your walls or your interior decorator."
In my next post I'll write a little more about the man - an artist and  former discus thrower on the Israeli national track team - and how I got to know him. And I'll show you work by some more of the contemporary artists he represents.








August 20, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Across the lake is a building with blue lights. We assume it is part of the Isle of Capri gambling casino. We have to drive over to check it out. And get rich.

I got the shot using the telephoto on my pocket Nikon as Babbie and I took a walk along the lake shore park in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

There was a sweetness to the evening. The humidity had eased up after a morning of rain. So the heat didn't envelop you as it often does here. There was a breeze and for once the breeze wasn't hot. A great evening for a leisurely stroll.

Of course Babbie was walking fast and I had to work to keep up with her.

Looking back over recent posts I see I've been feeding you a lot of pictures of the lake. I hope I'm not driving you nuts.





August 18, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

What we have is a room with a view. Or rather two rooms with a view. Here is some of what you can see from our windows on the third floor:

*A dark cloud rising over the lake like some gigantic bird of prey with fire jetting from the tips of its wings.

*The lights across the lake at midnight.

*These gorgeous cones of sand or gravel across the lake - my private Pyramids.

(Back to the bird of prey. I just started turning over the fact that prey and pray are pronounced the same way, and almost spelled the same way. There's irony in there somewhere.)

And then there's the beautiful I-10 bridge that I showed you in my August 14th and 9th posts. It is off to the right of these shots. At night you can see the headlights of the cars coming down the slope of the bridge into Lake Charles and the taillights of the cars leaving town.

I could spend a lot of time in these rooms just looking out the windows. Come to think of it, I do.


August 16, 2012


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This raging goose, head lowered in full battle mode, is charging me. Standing my ground I clicked off a couple photos before turning tail in a hurried retreat.

You're probably too young to remember when everyone kidded President Jimmy Carter about fighting off a "killer rabbit" while fishing from his canoe in Georgia.

As the story came out in the press, Carter said in a CNN interview in 2010, it was embellished by the alcohol that flowed when his press secretary, Jody Powell, told the story to Brooks Jackson of the Washington Post at a bar. Powell, now dead, claimed the story slipped out accidentally over tea.

Carter said the rabbit was being pursued by hounds when it took refuge in the water and swam frantically toward the canoe. The president persuaded the rabbit to change course by splashing water at him with his paddle.

Recalling that story made me realize that if I was famous and the attack-goose story got out I would be the butt of jokes on late-night TV, in bars and around water coolers. Carter, by the way, maintained a sense of humor about the incident.

In my case the goose was charging because I was approaching a kids' sprinkling pool that he apparently thinks belongs to him and his mates. I've seen his group of four the spray there several times and the other day I saw him charge a woman who was taking pictures. She gave a shriek and ran behind a hedge. Her motto, like mine, is when in trouble run for cover. I also turned tail when I came across a bear in a tree in the woods, but that's a story for another day.

These geese are not attacking me. They are in fact a sculpture in a fountain in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I couldn't find the artist's name.

Talking about birds, how about this lineup. Want to know how many there are? Count the feet and divide by two and then add two for the individualists who are facing in the opposite direction.





August 14, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

"A friend asked me what (Lake Charles) was like. I said: Picture a red darkness filled with screaming insects. Imagine a relentless sun, air so moist the breeze leaves a sheen of grease on you skin. Imagine being at the center of a half-closed claw whose nails are trees. My friend said that sounded awful. I told her I hadn't described it correctly.”

That's not me talking. It's Nic Pizzolatto, a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and it's up and coming literary light. He wrote that in his "Ode to Lake Charles" in the Oxford American in 2006. It was quoted in a story about his mounting success last week in the city's newspaper, the American Press.

The red sky in the photo above reminded me of the "red darkness" of his comment. Our son Michael, who knew Nic when they were both in McNeese State University's creative writing program, suggests another possible meaning. Before air conditioning many people would leave their front doors open at night in hopes of cooling the house down. To keep the insects out, they would light fires in front of the doors.

As for the screaming insects we heard the insistent hum of the tree frogs or cicadas or whatever is in those trees in the evening on the lake shore.

Hum really isn't the word for it. Its more like the sound of a distant jackhammer.

Me, I don't really know Lake Charles well, but I like it. Especially the small downtown making a valiant stab at coming back, the neighborhoods of older houses and cottages elevated a foot or so off the ground - I think to provide cooling. Some of these streets are shaded by live oaks and some of them become impassable because they floor in heavy downpours. The city has nice parks and playgrounds, combining both along the waterfront.

Commercial strips like Dalton Avenue going into Coltsville spike out from the downtown in a mind-boggling overabundance.

This photo was shot from our third-story suite in a lakefront inn. The shot at the top of this page was taken from the waterfront park across the street from the motel. It could have been taken from our window too. There is a 9/11 memorial in the park that consists of two-upright iron beams from the twin towers. They are set in water.

There's a lot of good stuff to look at. Is this a great place, or is it more like the nightmare painted by Nic Pizzolatto, the author of "Galveston: A Novel." I think I'd have to live here a long time before I was able to know.

Lake Charles by Lucinda Williams gives the place a review that any Chamber of Commerce could embrace. And it has a very catch, melancholy tune. Here's a little:

In those long last moments
We used to drive
Thru Lafayette and Baton Rouge
In a yellow Camino
Listening to Howling Wolf
He liked to stop in Lake Charles
Cause that's the place that he loved

Did you run about as far as you could go
Down the Lousiana highway
Across Lake Ponchatrain
Now your soul is in Lake Charles
No matter what they say


Sorry for the unexcused absence from posting. The mind was willing but the software wasn't. It's 3:23 a.m. so I'm going to bed without reading this over. Hope it makes some sense.



August 9, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Yesterday we flew from Albany to Chicago to Houston to Lake Charles, Louisiana. There we are living in the Presidential Suite at America's Best Inn & Suites on the shore of Lake Charles.

This may be a over-the-top name for our rooms but they are big and comfortable and overlook the lake from windows on the third floor. This is the view. This will be our command center for awhile.

Lake Charles is hot - very hot in August - but a cool place nevertheless. We especially like the old downtown which is returning to life.

Visit us. We have a conference table for eight in the living room. Who knows what deals were put together by what president in this suite. What president luxuriated in the waters of our jacuzzi, or watched his favorite show on one of our two TVs.

We expect to do important things here but we are keeping this all hush hush for the moment.

The front door of the visitor's center here says "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler." And "Let the Good Times Roll" is what we plan to accomplish.

Our little black Prius is waiting patiently for us at the most economical of the economy parking lots at Albany International. If you're reading this Prius, I want you to know we care for you deeply even though we are gallivanting around in a silver Corolla. It doesn't mean anything. It's just a fling.





August 7, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

If you're like me, you're always looking for the photo, especially the portrait, that you can save, cherish, frame, hang in a prominent place in your home. So by posting this shot, I hope I'm providing that special image.

Kidding aside, Photo Booth on my Mac is great for self portraits, although you may not buy that from the one I'm showing you here. I like all the colors that pop out on the face when you shoot without a flash at night.

Want to go through them: Red, orange, purple, blue, green, brown, ivory, pink, blue, black, olive, lavender. And I like the way the colors look layered, making the skin three dimensional.




August 5, 2012


Photos by Riley /All Rights Reserved

The show opened on Friday night and I had a ball talking to as many of the people who came as I could. Above an old friend Blanche Demagall of Williamstown stands in front of the big picture. It hung from the ceiling about four feet from the wall, hiding the door in the process.

The show is at the Berkshire Community College Gallery in downtown Pittsfield. The opening was held in conjunction with the First Friday Art Walks. Another reception will be held on September 7, again in connection with First Friday. I will give a talk at 6 and again at 7 that evening about the paintings and their connection to my parents, who are the subjects.


Here Babbie, at the left, talks with a high school friend, Alan Harwood, and his wife Margot Welch. The woman in the red shirt is Ellen Lahr, who I worked with at The Eagle, and I'm in the black T-shirt, back to camera, talking with Tone Bones Sadowy of Massive Graphics, which made the prints, and Arest Rock.

Lisa Griffith, is at the left, above. Lisa, the head of the BCC studio art department, curated the show. She has been my teacher and mentor. On the right is Alan Hayes, a photographer and small press operator. From Alan I've learned some important things about photography.



Michael Rousseau, a fantastic painter, examines one of my pieces.

Alan and my daughter Shannon share a laugh in one corner of the gallery. From comments during the evening, I found that the shot at the far right was in contention for most popular piece. Many people said it reminded them of the Kennedys. It is off my mother when she was young and one of her beaux. I wonder if anyone still refers to a boyfriend as a beau? My mother always did. The photo was taken in the 1920s in Cuba.


Another shot of Shannon and Babbie. And below I'm with good friends of ours, Peter Kosiba and Eliza Cooney. We went out with them for a drink after the show. They helped me load the works into the van and unload them at the gallery. The prints, which are mounted on painted composite panels, are pretty heavy. The French words on my T-shirt say "Let the good times roll." It was a present from Babbie.




August 3, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

The show I've been driving you crazy about is finally upon us. The opening is from 5 to 8 this evening. Please drop in if you can. It's at the Berkshire Community College Art Gallery at the Intermodal Transit Center on Columbus Avenue just off North Street. That's in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The number of people looking at my blog has slipped badly in the last week and I attribute that to constantly running pictures related to that big portrait.

To partially atone I'm not inflicting that one on you today. It is hidden by the brick pillar in the center of the photo above. The shot was taken about 9 last night and shows many of the other works in the exhibit.

This is the First Fridays Art Walk and downtown will be overflowing with art. It is being shown everywhere from the Lichtenstein and the Ferrin Gallery, to bars, restaurants and retail shops. The number of people turning out for this monthly event has been impressive. Much of the credit goes to Leo Mazzeo, who's been putting in a lot of time coordinating the walk. The event was started by Leo and Mary McGinnis.



August 1, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Righgts reserved

Once Scott Johnston of Massive Graphics agreed a few days ago to hang this picture of my mother, I felt a lot better. I had been planning to do it until Babbie intervened and said that at 77 I needed help. Scott looked the situation over Monday and spotted a flaw in my approach at the I-beam level. So yesterday we used his simplified - and safer - method to hoist the 10-foot-high portrait.

It was Scott's 29th birthday and I got him to pose with the picture. Below he's attaching clamps to the I-beam while my friend Jay Tobin holds the ladder.


My daughter Shannon and her daughter - who's hamming it up for the camera - are pictured below with photos of my parents in the background. Jay will have a show at the BCC gallery in November.

Lisa Griffith, Shannon and I did the heavy lifting Tuesday, unloading the van that Babbie and I packed the night before. Lisa, in the photo below, is the head of Berkshire Community College's studio art department and the curator of this show.

Today Lisa and I will put up the smaller pictures shown here and in the photo above this one. Scott and Tone Bones Sadowy of Massive did all the prints.

As soon as the big picture was up, Lisa knew where the others should go. I liked the way she set the show up.

I was on a high most of the day because of the show. (So please forgive me for bombarding you with posts about it.) It started from when I stumbled out of bed and Babbie told me to come down and look at the paper. Our friend Nancy Nirenberg had written a letter to The Eagle saying nice things about my work and urging people to come to the exhibit.

The opening is Friday from 5 to 8 at Berkshire Community College's downtown gallery located in the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transit Center on Columbus Avenue just off North. This show is one of many downtown August 3 in conjunction with the First Fridays Art Walk.

We had scary news late in the afternoon. One of our twin grandsons, Chad, had been hospitalized suddenly in New Hampshire. By evening we learned, to our great relief, that tests showed his illness was not life threatening. If all goes well he'll be out of the hospital today.








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