Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer


Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

September 30, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I spent a lot of time last night gathering pictures and text for this post and then I decided they were inappropriate.

So then I had to scramble for a substitute. That's me below on the computer searching for something. Well, truthfully, I was taking my picture. But that came in the midst of the hunt. That's one of our colanders above. I like that photo. But I think I may have used it before.

I spent much of the day building a stretcher for one of two newly sold paintings. I would like to spend more days like that. I enjoy making the stretcher, cutting the clear pine to length, gluing and screwing the pieces together. And I get a boost out of selling paintings.

It was a pleasant day and I worked out under the canopy behind my studio. As I put the thing together I listened to Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence on my earphones. I read it some time ago. She is a pretty savage critic of New York society. I had forgotten how telling her barbs could be.



September 28, 2010

Photo, A Triptych, By Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Now I'm starting to do what Richard Prince does: Steal a photo and call it my own. It's called appropriation in the art world.

Actually it's three photos, shot from a video produced by Style.com and shot while I played it on my computer. The pieces do not fit together perfectly because the model was walking when I took the pictures.

The dress, which I think could make the Guiness Book of Records for the highest slit, was designed by this guy, Peter Dundas. He is the designer for Emilio Pucci, one of the big fashion houses.

The Pucci models walked the runway yesterday at Milan Fashion Week. StyleCartel, an internet site, reported that the show started 45 minutes late, held up by Kylie Minogue. I don't know who she is. So I turned to the online edition of the Daily Mail in England.

It turns out that Kylie, as you probably know, is a singer and fashionista. Here's her picture, copyrighted by Splash, that appeared in the Mail September 23.

Who's that on Kylie's T-shirt dress? It's the face of the model Christy Turlington.

"...even Anna Wintour was on time," StyleCartel reported. I know who Wintour is - editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine - because I just saw a movie about her: The September Issue.

Getting back to StyleCartel, it said the room Pucci was showing in "was hot and sweaty, but everyone was in good spirits and it worked because the theme of the collection smelled of a Desert rose.

You may not have known this: "Jada Pinkett Smith was also in attendance, which (this is a first) made Pucci one of the most celebrity-studded shows in Milan."

So now I have to look up Jada Pinkett Smith. A fountain of information I'm not. I learn from Wikipedia she's "an American actress, producer, director, author, singer-songwriter and businesswoman." For me writing a blog is an education. She's the star of Hawthorne, a TV show. I think I saw it once.

Getting back to Pucci, here are two more outfits from the show. Don't wear this one to your office Christmas Party or dinner at the White house.

The one below might also raise eyebrows at either event. You're welcome to wear it to one of the wild parties I throw.

Photo from StyleCartel



September 26, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Sol Lewitt is taking shape in my studio. I've done a fair amount of work on the piece since I first showed it to you on my September 20 post.

When it's mounted on its base, the bust will be almost a foot high. It's the first full head I've tackled. I'd like to do more but don't know where I'd store them.

I was working on the nose before I quit yesterday, leaving his nose deformed. I knocked off shaping clay to cook a great vegetable stew. Babbie had chopped up most of the vegetables. The recipe makes enough for six, so we'll have it for supper for three days.

Last night I stumbled across a self portrait I like. The flash gives it some drama. And if you look closely, you'll see that the orange and yellow marks all surrounding the flash each form the letter F.

P.S. The spell checker on my blog software suggests I spell Grier as Grief.




September 24, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Today, more pictures of Magin.




September 22, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

The girl in the golden dress. Her name is Magin Schantz. She was an aspiring actor in New York when she went on several photo shoots with me some years ago.

I've lost track of her but her name crops up on Google as a member of the cast in plays off-off Broadway.

She had a great sense of the theatric and the off beat when she posed for me, bringing, among other props, this thrift shop dress several sizes too large for her.

And she had great ideas about places to shot - like this site of a burned out lumber mill in in Housatonic. Barbieri Lumber occuppied one of three old Monument Mills buildings destroyed by an arsonist in 2001.

She liked to spoof the classic melodramatic poses.

And she'd don a fedora to add an urban hip element.

Look at that saw blade (above). We could have shot the Perils of Pauline.

And for footwear what better than sneakers. In this shot I like the opposing directional forces of the dragon like piece of equipment and of Magin's face and hat.


Magin was about 23 at the time. These shots were probably taken six or seven years ago. She has a great face and a commanding presence.






September 20, 2010



Photos by Grier Horner unless otherwise noted/ All Rights Reserved

I'm working on a bust of Sol LeWitt, the late artist whose wall drawings occupy an entire building at MASS MoCA. Sol didn't show up with wet paper towels draped over his head as in the top photo. Their purpose is to keep the self-hardening clay pliable.

Since I have only done a few sculptures, I make up the process as I go. The armature, which should have been made first, was added over the last couple days. It came after most of face had already been done. That made things tricky.

Now that the bust has this aluminum framework, I'm ready to start adding clay to finish the head and neck.

Here's LeWitt in a shot I took from the museum's LeWitt video on the first floor of the three-story building dedicated to his work. Below is a wall drawing he did in 2007, a few years before his death at 79.

Photo by Kevin Kennefick from MoCA's website

The New York Times' obit by Michael Kimmelman said

LeWitt's, "...deceptively simple geometric sculptures and drawings and ecstatically colored and jazzy wall paintings established him as a lodestar of modern American art..."



September 18, 2010

Part One

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I captured this study in light and dark by shooting into the sun buried in the fringe of this heavy cloud bank over Pontoosuc Lake last evening.

Probably because I was listening to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as I walked along the lake, I associated the darkness of this photo with the actress, Noomi Rapace, who plays The Girl, Lizbeth Salander, in the movies based on Stieg Larsson's trilogy.

I love Larsson's description of Salander, a freewheeling researcher for a Stockholm security firm. Her boss, at a wealthy client's insistence, has arranged for him to meet with her for a briefing on an investigation.

"Salander was dressed for the day in a black T-shirt with a picture of ET with fangs and the words 'I am also an alien.' She had on a black skirt that was frayed at the hem. A worn-out, black, mid-length leather jacket, rivet belt, heavy Doc Marten boots and horizontally striped green and red knee socks. She had put on makeup in a color scheme that indicated she might be color blind."

Like her embarrassed boss, the client is fascinated by Lizbeth. And like her boss, is bowled over by her sleuthing.

She's also petite, bisexual, and a force to be reckoned with. Ravaged by a sexual predator as a teen, she is full of rage and fight. And by stealth, cunning and extraordinary computer skills, she can unearth information others would never dig up.

You can tell I love the books. I hate to put them down - I mean turn them off.


September 18, 2010

Part Two

Late yesterday afternoon Williams College kids were racing boats on Pontoosuc Lake. It brought back memories.

Below they're taking down the sails before pulling the boats up on their dry-docks.

I used to race a boat like these on Pontoosuc. But its been upside down in the back yard for years.

I kept it because I dreamed of sailing from Point Judith to Block Island, pictured below, when I retired. But I didn't and know I'll never screw up the courage to make that 13-mile crossing now that I'm 75.

We'll probably get rid of the boat, a 470, next year.



September 16, 2010

Painting by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I like red. I like purple. I like gold. Green I hardly ever use. I have nothing against green. But then I hardly ever paint landscapes or leaves. In the painting above, which I finished yesterday, I made up for slighting green over the years.

This thing feels like the beginning of a new series.

How many series can you carry on at once? I'm already working on Runway, Salvage, Jenne d'Arc and Hangman. Oh, I forgot the Statue series, which like these flowers, is only one painting - The Three Graces - so far.

Actually, this one isn't flowers. It's golden rod, honeysuckle berries, thistle seeds and assorted leaves from the garden. And I mean that literally. All those things were collaged onto the painting and then painted over. I've set aside some gladiola blossoms from a bouquet past it's prime. They'll go in the next one.

You can see what I mean about embedding, I think, in this detail of the golden rod section of the painting.

Here is another detail shot from the painting, which is 4' by 2'. The paint is acrylic.

I had just gessoed a panel when I was seized with the urge to attach vegetation.

Of course I'm not the first painter to attach flora to a canvas. Joan Snyder, who I talked about in my September 6 post, is a prominent practitioner of embedding. You can see how she does it in this photo of the cover of a book by Hayden Herrera about the artist. I'm a great admirer of her work.



September 14, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner unless otherwise noted.

This is a one-of-a-kind dress made from a World War II parachute, according to the blonde wearing it at New York Fashion Week. I have no reason to doubt her. What I do doubt is my own reportorial skills. I didn't ask who designed it. I didn't ask her name. I did think, however, that the dress was pretty spectacular.

So I give you the dress coming and going. I wonder if it's equipped with a rip cord. Below a young woman looks puzzled by her necklace. Maybe she's trying to figure out how the clasp works.

Oh, I get it, she seems to be saying.

So while this is going on outside Lincoln Center's runway shows, here are a few pictures from the New York Times of what was going on at the Y-3 show inside.

Getty Images

The makeup can be as interesting as the clothes. Here are two examples, one from Y-3 and the other from Betsey Johnson.

Getty Images

Now back to some more of my photos from the scene on the plaza outside Lincoln Center on Friday.

Shoes with mile-high heels at Fashion Week look good and give you the impression they're not great for long haul hiking. With that in mind, the below above has just changed out of high heels into some flats.

If you think the only fashion plates at these events are women, guess again.


When it looked like a lot of people were leaving, I, your faithful, if somewhat inept, fashion reporter, left too. I was time to get a martini at Grand Central before catching the train to Wassaic.

So, so long.


September 12, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

On Friday I resumed my Gallery Quest in New York. The trip was the first since April. But I ended up spending half my time outside Lincoln Center taking in the action that swirls around Fashion Week. I shot 300 shots. I guess that makes me a one-day member of the paparazzi.

I'm talking about the scene on the plaza outside the runway shows where several hundred people, mostly women, gather to get a look at the fashionistas as they enter and leave the shows. And where swarms of photographers take shots of the glamorous.

These aren't the models but the women, and men, who care enough about high fashion to wear what haute couture churns out.

In the top photo, a young woman with a camera crew, interviews two girls, center and left, whose  getups were attracting attention on the plaza.

Below, the woman with the crew - she may be a big New York TV personality for all I know - does a little shadow boxing.

Two women who attended the show, one conservatively dressed, the other flamboyant in a red dress cut out on the sides to show a lot of leg.

Some teenyboppers were pretty fashionably dressed as well.

Sky high heels and skinny pants were on view.


As was this woman's big smile.


And the hustle of this woman who appeared to be part of the shows' staff.



This stylish woman's children were with her.

She had by far the shortest hair of anyone I saw. I wondered if it was intentional or the result of chemotherapy. She walked fast and purposefully.


And he had the coolest hat. I wonder if it's in my price range.



September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I was in the Berkshire Museum yesterday and took shots of some of my favorite things from the permanent collection.

At the top of my list these days, perhaps surprisingly, is this plaster cast of Winged Victory. The original marble sculpture is in the Louvre.

Mark Millhoff's Stripping the Whale was one of a series of monumental pastels based on the novel Moby Dick. He launched the project in the 1980s while living in the Berkshires, where Melville wrote that great book.

In the plaque by the painting, one of my all-time favorites, Milloff explained:

"My intention in pursuing the large scale was to mimic a movie screen...I also intended the piece to be as boisterous and raucous as the book."

Thomas Shields Clarke, now little-known, painted The Dawn of a New Day (above)to commemorate the aspirations of newly arrived immigrants about to be taken from Ellis Island to New York City, almost lost in the mists across the river.


Clarke may have created this at his "cottage" in Lenox. Called Fernbrook, the estate was his summer home. It consisted of 300 acres on Yokun Mountain, and is now a special school owned by the Hillcrest Education Foundation.

His studio occupied the northeast wing. It was 30x42 feet, and designed as a replica of a room in an ancient Sicilian monastery. It had a large fireplace and a balcony built to allow visitors to watch Clarke work.

His wife gave the painting to the museum the year after his death in 1920.

Now we come to Gregory Crewdson's photo of downtown Pittsfield, an elaborately staged setup that involved a large crew, including the actress Jennifer Jason Leigh. She is in the car in the picture's center. Another aspiring actress, my granddaughter Riley, is standing in front of the photo. She is in costume for a play that had just been performed at the museum.

Below are some more shots of these works of art, including the brilliant frame on Milloff's painting. I think he made it. I took several art courses from him at Berkshire Community College when I was on the verge of retiring. He was a fine professor and now teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.




September 8, 2010

Photos unless otherwise noted by Grier Horner

The subject today is "Bad Painting - Good Art."

Examples of "Bad Painting" are now on view at MASS MoCA in an exhibit of works by the late Jorg Immendorff, pictured in this block of type. The painting above is Door to the Sun. It's in the room that houses the giant sculpture by Joseph Beuys (pictured here), his teacher and art guru.

Below are details from this painting, as well as paintings by Neo Rauch, Lisa Yuskavage and John Currin, whose work I don't like, and Julian Schnabel, whose work I think is exciting.

I'm about 14 hours late on delivering the text for this post. I spent almost 3 hours doing research last night and then at 2:30 decided I couldn't write anything.

"Bad Painting - Good Art" was a show at the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna in 2008. But the "bad painting" school isn't something that just cropped up. It's been around since the days of Philip Guston and probably longer.

"Bad Painting is a style of crude, roughly drawn figurative painting," says wikipedia. And the lesbian threesome below fits that definition.


Practitioners "manifest their ‘badness’ in various strategies of bad, ugly or malicious painting and thus contain elements of irony, protest, trash, kitsch and shock," said one description of the Vienna show.

Here's another view from the blogger LUNATICA DESNUDA, who probably captures the way most people would see this stuff:

Ever go to a museum or to one of those ultra hip "art galleries" and find yourself saying, "WTF is this crap? This isn't art. This is total garbage. I can do better with a match and some gasoline".

She might find it easy to believe Immendorff was painting under the influence. And she might be right.

"In August 2003 Jörg Immendorff was caught in the luxury suite of a Düsseldorf hotel with seven prostitutes (and four more on their way) and some cocaine," I learned from wikipedia.

"In interviews, he attempted to explain his actions with his terminal illness (he died in 2007 at 61 of Lou Gerig's disease) and as an expression of his "orientalism" that provided inspiration for his work.

"He also complained about prostitutes 'who don't understand that a good whore does not divulge anything about her clients.'

"At the trial in July 2004, he admitted to having organized 27 similar orgies between February 2001 and August 2003. He was sentenced to 11 months on probation and was fined 150,000 Euros. The mild verdict was justified with Immendorff's illness and his extensive confession."

I don't like Door to the Sun but the Immendorff painting at the bottom of the blog is growing on me. These comments come amid details of the big painting at the top of the post.

His work was full of politics, his personal life, and art references that give it great appeal, I suspect, to art detectives.

For instance, information is flowing from the head of Bueys, the figure on the left, down the plank into the head and body of the artist, at the left.

From Internet

The painting above, which was shown at MASS MoCA a few years ago, and the one below are by Neo Rauch. They're loaded with political symbols. But I'm not equipped to interpret them. They may make reference to the split between East and West Germany before the wall fell. The one below is the only Rauch I've seen that I like.



From Internet

Here we have the American, Julian Schnabel. These are giant paintings. The one at the bottom is on tarpaulins and is compelling.

From Internet


This is a wall from the Vienna show. Unfortunately I can't find the name of the artist. Can someone help me? They're pretty wild.

Below, in order, are paintings by John Currin, Philip Guston and Lisa Yuskavage. All three artists have been very successful. I'm just not with it.

From Internet



From Internet

Guston's studio painting above must have a mind of its own. I can not get it to line up. I guess I should have said something nice about the artist.

From Internet


I dismissed this painting out of hand when I first saw it but I've come to like it. I think I see Man Ray's woman as cello at the bottom left. Don't know who the figures in the soup are, but I wouldn't be surprised if the ghostly figure with the broom is Immendorff sweeping up the "good painting" art world.

One more thing about "bad painting." Some people would argue that I've been practicing badly for years, not as part of a school, just as someone who can't figure things out.



September 6, 2010

Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here are my two newest paintings. Above is Jeanne d'Arc (Number 36). Below is a work in progress. Both are on 4' x 2' panels.

Jeanne d'Arc (Number 35) appeared on my August 19 post along with an older piece from that series. To be transported back to August, click here.


This one started out as Jeanne d'Arc 37. After I got the gesso on the panel, I grabbed a leaf from the banking - I'm painting under the canopy outside my studio these days - and stuck it on the panel. The idea was to create a diversion to change the course of the drips of acrylic I would be applying. I kept adding more leaves, honeysuckle berries, shredded thistle balls.

It was no longer a Jeanne d'Arc. I haven't decided yet what it is. Friday night I applied a coat of gold metallic gesso over the panel and its flora.

Last night I mixed a jar of darker gold and brushed that on.

Below you can see what is happening as the paint goes over a section of golden rod.


Below is another detail, this one prior to applying the darker gold. What's the next step? I'm thinking.

One approach I'll look at is the one taken by the brilliant artist Joan Snyder. For a long time she has been submerging flowers, herbs and other stuff in her work and painting over it. Here's an example.

Click this link if you'd like to see a short video of Snyder talking about winning a Mac Arthur genius grant three years ago, and whether it would be enough to let her break through the glass ceiling.



September 4, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Here's a little sky ballet. In the past I only thought of using sky pictures if they were dramatic. Like the one below.

But looking at cloud shots by Alan Hayes, a Pittsfield photographer, made me realize you don't always have to go for the grand. Not that he, or I, disapprove of grandeur in the firmament.

For a real photographic treat take a look at some of Hayes' photos of a variety of subjects on this website.

Meanwhile, here are two more of my recent cloud shots.




September 2, 2010

Photos by Grier Horner unless otherwise credited. All Rights Reserved

A yellow jacket prowls the mouth of this Juan Munoz sculpture at the Stone Hill Center in Williamstown. The late Spanish artist's work will be up through October 17 at the facility which is part of the Francine and Sterling Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

Munoz, a great sculptor, died of a brain aneurysm nine years ago. He was 48 and at the height of his powers. If you get the chance, see the show. This grouping, above and below, is Conversation and is on the terrace of the Center designed by Tadeo Ando.


Among the Munoz installations are Many Times pictured in part below. I never saw so many sculptures having such a wonderful time. It's somehow unnerving. I think that all the faces are the same, which could explain the title, but set at varying angles.

Munoz's figures remind me of the Terra Cotta Army (below) buried with the first emperor of China about 2,200 years ago.

Photo from Google

The next photo gives you the smaller-than-life stature of these resin figures. You can see the video pictured here by clicking this link.

Photo from Clark website

Here's another piece, Piggy Back with Knife, which stands near some gold painted tables and chairs on a porch, if that word's appropriate for an open, roofed section of such a modern building.

I missed this man hanging from his mouth from one of the main galleries in the Clark itself. The only thing I had time to look at there was Picasso Looks At Degas, a smashing show. The dangling man must be arresting when you enter this room full of Impressionist paintings. And I love the Clark's innovative mixture of the new with the old. On the right is Renoir's Girl with a Cat.

I don't think the museum, before Stone Hill opened in 2008, ever showed contemporary art. Using it this way is something I hope the Clark does more often.

Photo from Clark webpage


Archives 2010 January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
Sept 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
Archives 2009 January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
Sept 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
Archives 2008 January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
Archives 2007 January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
Archives 2006 January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006

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 • grierhorner.com