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Portrait of the Artist as an Old MaN

September 30, 2012


Photos and Paintings by Grier Honer/All Rights Reservced

I'm sitting here bleeding on the computer table _ the part of the table that holds your keyboard and pulls out and in and on which the lower part of your palm rests when you type.

I don't realize that my palm is bleeding until I take my left hand off and see blood on the rim of the pull-out section. I give the stain a spit bath and it comes off.

(I'm switching to past tense now because what I'm writing now comes eight hours later.) The wound - which is a blatantly overdramatized description - occurred when, after opening a bottle of wine, I managed to jam the end of the corkscrew into my left palm while screwing the cork off. Pretty klutzy. And I probably have no excuse for telling you about this other than I have been reading - nay listening too - the late Henry Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest.

It is a tremendous book, both in content and size: 1079 pages long if you count the footnotes and takes 52 hours to listen to on my iPod. Even at 52 hours, the audio version doesn't include the footnotes. So I had to get the book out of the library - or more accurately Babbie got it out for me - in order to read them.  The "Notes and Errata" start on page 978. That gives you a lot of them.


I looked up the word errata and it is the plural of erratum. As you might suspect from the sound, errata stems from the Latin for error. As you might not suspect from the sound, errata is a list of corrected errors appended to a book or published in a subsequent issue of a journal.* (If you go down to the end of this post to the * you'll see the type of thing Wallace might include in his "Notes and Errata.")

By the way, I should point out that the paintings I included with this post are from my Cathedral series. I showed more of them on my September 26 post. Maybe by accident they illustrate the lyrics of Errata Stigmata.**



*Errata sheets

"Errata, lists of errors and their corrections, may take the form of loose, inserted sheets or bound-in pages. An errata sheet is definitely not a usual part of a book. It should never be supplied to correct simple typographical errors (which may be rectified in a later printing) or to insert additions to, or revisions of, the printed text (which should wait for the next edition of the book). It is a device to be used only in extreme cases where errors severe enough to cause misunderstanding are detected too late to correct in the normal way but before the finished book is distributed. [1] How's this, a footnote with a footnote (which I'm not including).


Design errors and mistakes in a CPU's hardwired microcode may also be referred to as errata. One well-publicized example is Intel's "FDIV" erratum in early Pentium processors,[2] known as the Pentium FDIV bug. This gave incorrect answers to a floating-point division instruction (FDIV) for a small set of numbers, due to an incorrect lookup table inside the Pentium chip. (The definitions quoted here are from my computer dictionary, which includes four dictionaries.)

**Errata Stigmata

"Errota Stigmata" is the name of  song on the deathrock album King Fear by the Babylon Whore, a deathrock and metal band from Finland.. The album, recorded at Hellhole studio in 1999 and released on CD by Spinefarm Records in Finland and internationally by Necropolis Records. The track was written and performed by Antti Litmanen and Ike Vil. I couldn't find the track on iTunes, although the Babylon Whores had other albums there. But I did find the lyrics on Encyclopaedia Metallum. Here they are:

Oh well hey / What did you learn today / Of all the world and its pain / Of
Archons insane?
Oh there's a hole up in the sky from where the angels fall / To bring us
sword and sire children that grow up too tall

Oh there's a hole down in the ground where all the dead men go / Down
purgatory's highways they gun their souls

Oh say you love Satan

Yeah right

What did you learn today / Crossing your fingers / Applauding the play?

Cough up all sixes that you know all signs of horns that you can show /
Maybe you too are like unto the Beast unto the Fiend and Foe

For certainly the hoof and horn must be whereever hair will grow / To call
upon the spirits foul to dance upon your goddamn soul

Oh say you love

Say you love Satan

Yeah right

I should point out that some of Wallace's footnotes are more like asides in his novel  - not that there aren't asides l within the book itself  - and can take the form of fiction.



September 26, 2012

Paintings and Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I'm reconsidering my Catherals, painted a few years ago, after my online art  dealer, Yoram Gil, visited my studio this weekend and complimented them.

I thought they were good when I did the series of more than a dozen, I think, but have basically put them out of my mind for a long time.

While I'm looking at them again, I thought I'd show you some to see what you think.


The ones above, like most of my work, are large. But I also have quite a few smaller pieces, like the three below, which are 36" x 24".

Sunday was the first time I had met Yoram, although we had become friends perhaps four years ago via the telephone. In person, as over the wires, he is a man of zest and energy, much of it devoted to his online art site, Gallery Yoram Gil, devoted to contemporary art. He works out of the Los Angeles area.

He is also a champion of my Jeanne d'Arc series, which I think is some of my best work.

Excuse me for a minute, I have to get another log for the fire. It's almost midnight and it's 53 out. We haven't turned the furnaces on yet - we used to brave it out until November, something we haven't managed for years - and have been having fires in the evening for the last week or so.

The Jeanne d'Arc paintings - over 30 of them - were the direct descendents of the Cathedral Series, which is where I first started developing a drip technique that wasn't imitating Jackson Pollack. Yoram likes these, too.



September 24, 2012

 Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserver

The windows of the Central Annex in Pittsfield glow in the last light of the setting sun. Now housing for the elderly, it was once the city's high school and later became the first home of Berkshire Community College.

The handsome building is located at the head of the Common, a large recreational area on First Street. You are looking down Eagle Street, named for the newspaper I worked for for 32 years.

Yesterday I met Yoram Gil, my art dealer, for the first time in person, although we have been good friends for a number of years via phone and internet. He drove to Pittsfield during a visit to New England. His home is in the Los Angeles area. It was his first chance to look at my  paintings in the flesh, having only seen them on the internet previously.


September 22, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

It was one of those nights I wasn't functioning. One of my cameras wasn't functioning either. It's battery was dead. And I couldn't get the second camera's flash to work. So when I took these three shots of the fashion show at Third Thursday in downtown Pittsfield situation wasn't promising. To make things worse the sun was going down.

But sometimes when everything is malfunctioning you get something you like anyway. And I do like these photos taken at a slow speed of three very attractive women moving at runway speed. There's something sort of mysterious and glamorous about these photos I think.

I was very disappointed when I downloaded them into the computer. But later they grew on me.

I do regret, however, that I don't have in-focus versions as well so I could compare them. For 25 more shots of the fashion show, shots more or less in focus, you can go to my page on facebook.com.



September 20, 2012

I'm looking for a subject for the next painting in my Runway Series. Here are a half dozen or so I've been thinking of. I've had a soft spot in my heart for Red Riding Hood and a number of years ago did a painting of her and took a shot of her (both below).

Posting on fashion is good timing because tonight 's theme for Third Thursdays is Passion for Fashion. It's being held downtown Pittsfield from 5 to 8. Also, as fashionistas (you are, aren't you) you know New York Fashion Week just ended. I've been pouring over the pictures of the models on the runways.


The beauty of the photos of this woman stifling a yawn and the one at the very top, is that I would have to invent the rest of their outfits. The yawning model came from Trendland, a daily internet newsletter. It didn't give the name of the photographer, model or dress designer. Red Riding Hood comes from the website Fukuoka, which is in a language I can't read - probably Japanese - so again I'm stymied on giving credit.

Here we have Kate Moss unleashing her anger at the paparazzi who were lying in wait for her outside her house. It resulted in a great action photo but I haven't been able to find who took it. As you can see below I've recruited a Pittsfield girl (and her mother) to help me draw the portion of Kate covered by foliage.


Here we have a dress by Alberta Ferretti from style.com.

Another contender is this model in a black mini dress by Skaist-Taylor. Great boots.

And finally we have a slinky white gown by Ellie Saab. As fashionistas I'm sure you all knew that Fashion Week in New York City just ended. The Ferretti and Skaist-Taylor outfits are from runway shows held there.


September 18, 2012

There are three stars in the French movie The Intouchables, the charismatic Omar Sy, Francois Cluzet and the Masserati that Sy is driving in this photo.

And that car provides a soundtrack that stirred me when I saw the show at the Beacon with Babbie on Sunday night. Click here to view the trailer and listen to that car.

In addition to the car, pictured below, it's a movie that makes you laugh and feel warm and good. Rotten Tomato's top critics only gave it a 74% fresh rating. But the audience, including myself, loved it, giving it a 94.

You have to pay way over $100,000 for this baby, which is why I should start buying lottery tickets. But its a Stradivarius of V8's. As for the movie, here's what A.O. Scott says about it in the New York Times:

"The pallid aristocrat, Philippe (François Cluzet), is paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a hang-gliding accident and lives in a state of opulent ennui attended by a nervous staff and is ignored by his petulant adolescent daughter. He is a difficult boss, and his newest employee, a streetwise hoodlum named Driss (Omar Sy) does not look as though he will last long in the job. Not that Driss has much ambition to play nurse for some grouchy old invalid; he applies for the position only so he can continue to collect government benefits. Moving into Philippe’s mansion, Driss steps away from a background of poverty, family dysfunction and trouble with the police. Under his boss’s stern gaze and imperious tutelage he starts to acquire a work ethic and a sense of discipline. In exchange, he helps Philippe discover his appetite for life and his capacity for joy.


"...It is possible to summarize the experience of watching “The Intouchables” in nine words: You will laugh; you will cry; you will cringe."


September 14, 2012

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


Tell me what kind of a bird is this? It looks very exotic to me. I'd guess it was a heron or an egret, but I know next to nothing about birds. It was standing motionless in this backwater along the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Lanesborough about quarter to six Wednesday afternoon.

It must have taken me five or 10 minutes to get this picture. The waterfowl was probably 100 feet away from me. My pocket Nikon will zoom way in. But when I did that it was hard to find the bird. It doesn't help that it's pretty well camouflaged in this setting.

Isn't the water beautiful?








September 12, 2012

Jenny Saville with her painting "Plan" taken by Glynn Griffiths in 1994.

People by the thousands have been visiting my blog recently. On September 9 I had 5,164 visits to the blog. In the four days from the 8th to the 11th I had 8,624 visitors.

For a blog that gets a respectable 200 or 250 on a good day, these numbers are sensational.

Suddenly my art had been discovered by the masses? After all my last two posts were about my current show in downtown Pittsfield.

No such luck, according to the statistics generated daily for my site. The big draw was Glynn Griffiths' 1994 portrait of the British artist Jenny Saville, her painting Plan towering over the artist then in her early 20s.

Someone - actually lots of someones - was looking for that photo. And if you Google Jenny Saville and go to "images" you'll find that my site is the only place you could find it. (Of course you can find it on other sites if you add the photographers name and the title of the painting.

I used the photo with my post about Saville on July 19, 2006.



The lines that look like a topographic map here, I learned today, are derived instead from her study of liposuction and plastic surgery. I thought then and think now that Saville is one of the best contemporary painters.

The self portrait above is extraordinary. From the moment I saw it, this piece was one of my favorites. The way she applies paint is masterful. The composition is spectacular. The wet, open mouth is arresting and disturbing. The painting, like many of hers, is confrontational, demanding, sensational.

Above and below are two of her recent paintings. She is now 42 and I like the stuff she was doing 20 years ago better. But she will be painting for a long time. I'm anxious to see what she comes up with.


Here's one of those earlier works, a commanding painting.

Here's a current photo of Saville, the mother of two children, in her studio in Oxford, England.

"It feels as if Saville is the lovechild of Willem de Kooning's violent misogyny and Lucian Freud's carnal hunger who, somehow, popped out as kind of a feminist," writes Priscilla Frank in the Huffington Post. I think Frank has it right.

Frank had another great line in her profile: "Her paintings are tender, not as in tender feelings but more like tender meat."

In an article in The Guardian by Rachel Cooke, I learned that it was while Saville was at Cincinnati University she was captivated by the sight of obese women at shopping malls. They became the subject of her 1992 graduate show at Glasgow University, a show that captivated Charles Saatchi - the British collector who introduced the crop of "Young British Artists" in the Sensation show, which seemed to have shifted the center of the art world from New York to Boston.

"I want to be a painter of modern life, and modern bodies..." Saville told the Guardian.

"In Britain, there has been a drive in art schools to describe and to rationalise what it is that you're making, and that is a death knell to painting," Saville said in regard to conceptual art.

America is more attuned to painting than England, she said, suggesting that might be because New York was the center of the last period of great painting - the Abstract Expressionists.




September 10, 2012

(Visiting hours for my show at Berkshire Community College's downtown gallery on Columbus Avenue are from 2 to 5 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.)


Photo by Riley Nichols/All Rights Reserved

There are things I forgot to say when I gave my artist's talk at the BCC gallery. Two important things in any in depth conversation about her life and death.

One: She lived past infancy only because her mother saved her when their house burned in Calgary, Alberta. Her mother threw her from an upper story window in their house into the arms of someone below. Her mother, however, was unable to save herself.

Two: When my family moved to Tarrytown after my father was discharged from the Army Air Corps following World War II, he had a job in advertising in New York City that paid very well. After he lost that job, my mother, who was a nurse, returned to work and saved us from financial ruin. And she continued working for years as a private-duty nurse, often for 12-hour shifts for months without a day off.


Photo by Riley Nichols/All Rights Reserved

Other things I might have talked about was the once rocky course of their marriage. Of my mother's bout with TB when I was an infant. Of my mother when she was trying to fight off severe disappointment or deep depression singing to herself:

When you walk through a storm

Hold your head up high

And don't be afraid of the dark.

At he end of the storm

Is a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of a lark.*

I did talk about her manic depression and the electric shock treatments she was given. If you read One Flew Over the Cockoo's Nest you know what a toll they could take. I used the reds and yellows and purples in the large print because to me those were the colors of electric shock.

Photo by Susan Geller/All Rights Reserved

But there were so many things to say about her. In a 15-minute talk you can't fit in everything**. Additionally it was extemporaneous. If I were doing it over, I'd make some notes. Those aren't notes in my hand in Susan Geller's photo above. They're photos (like the two below) I had printed to show people during the talks, which attracted more than 30 people combined.

My mother was able to do hand stands and walk on her hands. In a sympathy note to my father, a friend said she had done handstands at the YMCA even at 58, the age at which she died.

This is one of the photos in our family album of a trip my mother took to Cuba with several friends when she was young.

Photo by Riley Nichols/All Rights Reserved

In this shot my granddaughter Riley, I have just been introduced by Lisa Griffith, the head of the Art Department at BCC.

I am tremendously grateful to her for asking me to do this show - my third for the community college - and for the insightful way she hung it. I took several studio art classes with Lisa when I was in my 60s.

Riley, by the way, has been my show photographer for about five years. She will be 13 next month.


*You'll Never Walk Alone by Rogers and Hammerstein from Carousel.

**I also forgot to say how very much I love her and my father. Maybe that's obvious.


September 6, 2012

By Grier Horner/ All Rights Reserved

This Friday, September 7, I will talk about the pictures in this show and my strong emotional connection to them. They are of my mother, Beth, and my father, Jack, both warm, colorful, troubled humans.

I will talk at 6 and again at 7 at Berkshire Community College's beautiful gallery in the Intermodal Transit Center on Columbus Avenue just off North Street. This event is part of the First Fridays Artswalk which runs from 5 to 8.

The show opened a month ago and runs through September 24.








September 4, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

The best address in Lake Charles is Shell Beach Drive which runs along the shore of the lake. Houses like these line one side of the road and the lake side is lined by the homeowners' elaborate boathouses. 

Mansions like this one dot the drive but they share frontage with houses like the ones below, which are hardly shabby but are not chateaux.

Below a water fowl takes a breather on the roof of a boathouse - the most modest of these structures along the lake.



September 2, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

We came across this scene during a stroll at Lake Preen. I think it was a fashion shoot rather than a portrait of a bride. Although that's just a guess. I guess this could be titled The Bride at the Bridge. I think there is symbolism in that title but it's not worth exploring.

The bridge is the I-210 bridge. I-210 is a loop road around Lake Charles, Louisiana. The bridge, as you can see below, has a very dramatic sweeping curve. And I guess that's appropriate because marriage throws people a lot of curves as well.



The crew didn't seem to mind me taking shots of them taking shots. The light was fading and they were very focused on what they were doing so I didn't attempt to talk to them about what they were doing.

In any case they seemed to be having a good time and I was too.











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