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September 29,  2009

                                                                                                   © grier horner - all rights reserved

Today I'll show you some of the photos I took in New York last week. I was shooting with one of those miniature Nikon's you can slip in your pocket. It has a strong telephoto.

A problem, as you can see, is I managed to imprint these with the date and time. It was my second time handling the camera and I didn't know how to switch that feature off.

I love all the layers of reflection in the building above and the one below.

The sign on the double-decker bus was  in tune with my current series of paintings - Runway.

These women were deep in conversation as they walked along the sidewalk. I shot this from the hip as they approached.

                                                                                                © grier horner - all rights reserved

Like me the man  in the dark suit was looking at this woman's shapely legs. And doesn't that look like the face of a ghoulish giant looking on from the second-story window in the building across the street?



The posts for September 24 and 26 appear only on Blogspot. Click this  link and you're there.


September 23, 2009

Nicole Peskin is being recognized with a retrospective of her work at the Darrow School off Route 20 in New Lebanon, N.Y. Here she is with her towering Hermaphroditic Angel at the opening last night.

Nicole and Louis Christie, as I've reported in this blog, have nearly finished building a large sculpture studio on her property in Stephentown, N.Y.

Spontaneous, vivid and larger than life in person, her art often reflects her persona.

Here's her The Death of the Books of Life. It is composed of Pittsfield phone books, tar and steel.

This is Box 1. It is made of cardboard and she made it to demonstrate to Darrow students how simple it can be to go from something flat to a three-dimensional work.

And this is what I've always considered her superlative piece - the one I'd like to have hanging in my house.

The Darrow show will be up for another month at the Joline Art Center and can be seen from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days. Before you take a trip over the mountain, it might be a good idea to call Darrow at (518) 794-6000 to get directions to Joline.



September 21, 2009

                                 © grier horner - all rights reserved

This is Number 7 in my Runway series. I'm still working on it. If I can resolve a few things, I think it will turn out well.

Like the others it is 72"x48" and is acrylic on canvas. I shot it at this angle to avoid the full glare of the flash.

I like her sequined dress, which was designed by Alexander Wang. If you want to see the photo I'm using as a guide in painting her, go to my September 11 post.

In the background I have Baghdad burning during the shock- and-awe campaign undertaken to soften up resistance to our invasion, which came on March 20, 2003

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



September 19, 2009

Megan Moore and Joe Goodwin in front of one of his paintings, Kilauea, at the Ferrin Gallery on Third Thursday.

If you want to see the work of a pro, drop in on today's opening reception for Joe Goodwin's A Recent Epoch at the Ferrin Gallery at 437 North Street, Pittsfield.

He is an epic painter whose work I've admired since I first saw it a few years ago. He paints in a large studio on the third floor of his Pittsfield home, a studio shaped by the lines of the roof.

I'm not an art critic. So instead of talking about his stunning show of paintings and monotypes at Ferrin, I'll show you a few of the works hanging there.

This painting is Spectral Emission, 21"x29", acrylic, 2009.

And this is Untitled, 36 X 42, acrylic, 2009.

Sold prior to the opening was this one, Storm Cradle (diptych), 20×16x2, acrylic, 2000-2009

A native of Oklahoma, Joe got his bachelor of fine arts at Oklahoma State University and his masters of fine arts at the University of Illinois. He has had solo shows in New York, Sante Fe, Aspen, four German cities, Wiesbaden, Baden Baden, Frankfurt and Budingen, Tokyo, Lakeville, Chatham, Kent, Salisbury, Lenox and Williamstown. His work is in the collections of seven museums.

If you don't get a chance to see Joe tonight, he's giving a talk at the gallery on Sept 30 at 7.

I took the pictures in this post. They may not conform exactly to the colors in the works. If you'd like to see large versions of these photos, go to my Blogspot version of this block and click on the photos. Also on Blogspot  is my five-photo post on Third Thursday.



September 17, 2009

                                                                                                                                        Photos by Grier Horner

"Alice hated the taste of booze but loved being drunk."

Hi Grier,
Your August 25 blog brought back memories of the summer of
'92. Mike took me to Saratoga 2x and it was fun to dress up and wear a big hat at the race track.

He had good friends whom we stayed with who had a bar just across from the entrance to the race track. I think it
was called "King's Bar".

We met some interesting characters at the
bar. Some of them became Mike's friends for life and they used to visit us on the Cape.

All were pretty hard boozers and many have since died.

Alice was notorious for the huge quantity she could put away. She used to come visit me because Mike didn't like her around due to her 300 lbs of flesh. The bar owner is dead now but I'm still in touch with his wife Patty.

I wonder if the bar you went to was the same one? Next time you go ask if it was Dick Bendon's bar? He was certainly a character; addicted to his own adrenalin. He drove poor Patty crazy.

On my 2nd trip there, I skipped the races and spent 5 hours walking up and down the main drag with the big beautiful hotels. Saratoga must have been quite the destination at one time.

I've always wanted to go back to Saratoga someday. I know I would be welcome at Patty's.

Getting back to Alice. She had a dear male friend Joe whom she met at King's bar. His wife wasn't interested in horses. So Alice and Joe traveled every year to The Kentucky Derby. He could drink Alice under the table.

Alice died a few years ago at 62 of a massive coronary, just a few weeks before her scheduled stomach bypass surgery. At 55, after she had had a heart attack, she decided to give up boozing and cigarettes. Then she became addicted to food.

She told me she hated the taste of booze but loved being drunk! She became very depressed when she couldn't get high anymore. She spent 6 months talking to a therapist. Alice was from a large Irish family and she was funny as hell.

At her last therapy session, her therapist broke down and cried; said he would miss seeing her every week. Everyone loved Alice. I certainly miss her calls and her visits.

This email was from Carol Haeberli, my wife's sister and a good friend. None of the people in my Saratoga photographs are those mentioned in this post.




September 15, 2009

I'm watching Jay Leno's grand opening on NBC last night and as usual he's cracking me up.

A while into the show, he brings on Kayne West, the rapper, who he congratulated for not backing out of the appearance after what happened Sunday night.

West sits in a blue chair next to Jay and he's contrite. It looks like he's going to cry when Jay asks him what his mother would have thought of his behavior.

So there I am feeling out of it because I have no idea what West did, an act I realize everyone must know about because Leno doesn't even explain what West is apologizing about.

I go to Google and find that during the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall something wild happened.

Taylor Swift, the young country singer, was just starting her acceptance speech for her surprise win for Best Female Video.

West bounded onto the stage and took the mic away from her.

"Taylor, I'm really happy for you and I'm gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time," West said.

After his outburst Swift stood there looking lost. The crowd applauded Swift. (To see the thing on video click this MTV link.) She didn't get to finish her speech.

"Poor Taylor," writes Elizabeth Snead in the Los Angeles Times website. "First Joe Jonas dumps her by phone. Now Kanye West spoils her VMA memory!"

Poor Grier, I say. He knew nothing about the mic-grabbing incident. He didn't even know Joe Jonas dumped Taylor, by phone no less. He didn't even know who Joe Jonas was. In fact he wasn't really sure who West was.

To his everlasting credit he had heard of Taylor Swift and liked Beyonce, who was sensational as she sang "At Last" at President Obama's inaugural ball. This is a photo of that.

And I did see Serena Williams tell the foot-fault-calling line judge she'd like to stick "this [expletive] ball down your [expletive] throat."

That drew a one-point penalty that sealed the victory Kim Clijsters was about to win on her own.

Of course none of these outbursts came close to the level of offensiveness obtained by Representative Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, when he shouted "you lie" during the President's health-care speach to Congress last week.

Getting back to Sunday at the MTV awards, Beyonce came to the rescue. It turns out she won the Big Kahuna Video of the Year, which is a bigger deal than Swift's award. Beyonce turned her time over to Swift. (See the picture below.) Pretty nice of her. And now you're up to date on the latest news in case you're as out of it as I am.




September 13, 2009

Self portrait September 12,  2009

A friend of mine questions my credentials as a streetfighter. In a recent email he  said, "the closest you ever came to violence was puffing up your cheeks and making turkey-like noises."

This came about after he read my profile on blogspot.

It says I am: "A painter. A would-be streetfighter. A reader. A napper. A laugher. A guy who likes to drink alone, a guy who has betrayed, a guy who loves, a guy who lies. A guy who lies about lying."

My friend should have been at the bar with me the other night.

This drunk two stools down had been getting pretty abusive with me and a couple of the other customers. Fed up I asked him how his new baby was.

"What baby?" the drunk said.

"Last time I was with your wife she was pregnant," I said.

"You bastard," the drunk said.

He slammed his beer bottle against the edge of the bar and came at me making a thrust for my face with the jagged bottle. I knocked his arm aside and the bottle grazed my forehead. Still pretty quick for a 74-year-old I kneed him in the crotch. As he doubled over I decked him with a punch to the side of the head.

The bartended, a guy I like, had grabbed his blackjack and was looking at me hard. Then he looked at the other half dozen drinkers.  

Apparently satisfied things were under control, he slipped the blackjack into his pocket and came out from behind the bar. He dragged the drunk across the floor and propped him up in a sitting position in the corner. This isn't the kind of place where they call the cops.

"He'll come to in a little while," the bartender told me.

"I may put him back to sleep," I said.

"Jeez, you aren't still mad."

"Sure," I said. "I'm still mad."

"Get over it," the bartender said. "I mean it."

"What the hell," I said. "I'm over it."

   "You better be," he said. "Let's take a look at that cut."

So, gentle reader, what I want to know now is this: How's  my credibility?




September 11, 2009

She is going to be the model for my next Runway painting. I don't know her name. But I do know she is quite lovely and wearing a stunning dress by Alexander Wang. Her photo was taken by Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images.

My original plan was to pair her with the little girl running naked after being burned in a napalm attack on her village in the Vietnam War.


This iconic picture was taken in 1972 by Nick Ut, a young Vietnamese photographer working for the Associated Press. It won the Pulitzer Prize.

It is so painful to look at these children, all from the same family, that I don't know if I can bear to paint them.

While the U.S. soldiers in Ut's photo appear indifferent to the children's plight, moments later Americans came to her aid. The humanitarian act was captured by a British cameraman, Alan Downes, in the photo below. The black censure band reflects the practice of the time.


The 9-year-old girl, Kim Phuc, not only lived but married, raised a family, settled in Canada and was named a good-will ambassador for the United Nations.

Here she is with her infant son Thomas, her back disfigured by the napalm. The photo was taken in a 1995 by Anne Bayin.


Instead of Ut's photo I may borrow from the shot below of one of the militias that complicated things in Iraq.

It is probably appropriate to turn to the Iraq image since this is the eighth anniversary of Al Qaeda's 9/11 attack on the United States.

George Bush convinced Congress to allow him to go to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 and because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Both reasons turned out to be false.

More than 4,300 service personnel and countless thousands of Iraqis have died in that war, and it isn't over. Meanwhile, we're committing thousands more troops to Afghanistan, a war that I think will become an albatross around President Obama's neck.




September 9, 2009



Family. What a wonderful, terrible, complicated invention. Family is with most of us for life whether we like it or not. And it assumes greater importance as we age.

Families work when the wiring hasn't gotten impossibly twisted, and sometimes, I guess, even when it has. For this crew the wiring is intact and they (we) get along famously.

I shot this at the home of Cookie and David Bates during a long Labor Day weekend. Cookie is at the left and David's in the doorway. She and Babbie are sisters. Pete, looking on, is their big brother. (Their sister Carol couldn't make it.)

This was the fifth year in a row we've spent three days with the Bates at their home on Lake Ontario near the Canadian boarder.

While we were there I finished Richard Russo's new novel, That Old Cape Magic, where the protagonist makes peace with his parents posthumously. Better late than never.

We ate at the house. We ate outdoors on a shaded terrace at Sacket Harbor where our waitress looked like Edie Sedgwick, the Andy Warhol star. From Alexandria Bay, we took a boat tour on the Saint Lawrence and saw dozens of the Thousand Islands.

My ears got sunburned and still hurt.

And we talked for hours. Two evenings they played cards. Me, I dealt with Russo while they dealt the the deck. The only card game I like is War. Try to get adults to play that with you.

Below, in sequence, are Pete, his wife Zoe, and Babbie. The last photo is the view of Ontario from the living room.











Here are Babbie and Zoe at supper. Zoe's married to Pete.

How many kitchen windows have a view like Cookie's?

And this is the view of the lake from Cookie and David's living room.

"I miss seeing the lake," Babbie said when we were sitting in our own living room this evening. And so do I.




My September 7 post will appear only on Blogspot. This  link  takes you to it.

September 5, 2009

                                                                                                                   © grier horner - all rights reserved

Here's our whaleboat, now plying a painted sea, propelled by a phantom crew of six oarsmen in a dangerous quest for hearts.

Rereading several chapters of Moby Dick, which Herman Melville wrote while living in Pittsfield, my town, I learned more about the way the whaleboat is rigged than I did when I wrote my September 3 post.

Hundreds of feet of line are carefully coiled in a big tub. (The tub full of line is just forward of the harpooned heart in my boat.) That line is then run aft to a capstan and then is returned forward to the harpoon. In this configuration it runs between each of the pairs of oarsmen.

Both harpoons are attached to the line to give the harpooner a second chance after he throws the the first. If he doesn't have time to heave the second it goes overboard. The other end of the whale line is not attached to anything. If it were, a deep diving whale would drag the boat down into the depths.

As the crew "pull into the jaws of death," Melville writes, "the line silently serpentines about the oarsmen before being brought into actual play -- this is a thing which carries more of true terror than any other aspect of this dangerous affair."

When the whale is harpooned, he runs and the line plays out fast and furiously. A kink in the rope can take a man's arm or leg off, or worse, yank him from the boat into the sea.

"But why say more?"  Melville asks. "All men live enveloped in whale-lines."


September 3, 2009

                                      © grier horner - all rights reserved

The crew of this whaleboat has harpooned a heart and pulled it aboard. A second harpoon is at the ready in the bow in case another heart is sighted.

This is the second of two pieces commissioned by a buyer. Each canvas is 18" x 14". The first was a tramp steamer. (See my August 27 post.) I have roughed in the water with white gesso. I hope to paint it today.

Unlike the first boat, this one was pieced together from a sheet of highly weathered copper a neighbor gave me.

The tangle of line in the bow is from the first throw. The line for the second harpoon is coiled in the tub in front of the heart.

When a whale is harpooned the coiled line plays out fast and can be lethal. If a crewman gets snagged by the line, he will be yanked into the water.

If he doesn't drown as he's pulled along the surface, he will when the whale dives.


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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


© grier horner - all rights reserved •