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Portrait of the Artist as an Old MaN


October 27, 2012

Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Why's this fashionable young woman being held behind this chain link fence? Could she be a prisoner? Why is she veiled? Can you see the veil? It's sort of a purple color. Has Grier Horner gone batty reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace?

Do you really think you're going to get the answers in this post?

That fence could be topped with razor wire. Or she could be looking into a school yard. Maybe she's Joelle van Dyne in the novel. Maybe she's one of the 2 percent trying to figure out what the other 98 percent's up to. Is she a volunteer seeking votes for Romney?

In any case she is wearing a tapestry dress by Carven* that costs $1,180 and is available from MNZstore.com in New York City.

Carven deserves the credit for the dress, the unnamed model for wearing it so well and oh yes, me. I deserve some credit for drawing the chain link fence the computer. And for putting the veil over her face. Although you might wonder why you don't get to see this pretty face.

This is my second attractive woman behind a fence. For the first chain-link effort see my October 15 post.

*French couturier Madame Carmen de Tommaso established Carven in 1945 with a clientele of film stars and royals. With Guillaume Henry now at the helm, the label’s growing ready-to-wear and accessories collections include statement cocktail dresses, perfectly cropped pants and super cool sunglasses, according to net-a-porter.com.





October 25, 2012

My screenshots from designer Markus Lupfer's spring collection video.

Markus Lupfer is a young German based in London who has made a name for himself in the world of high fashion. I fell for the video of his Spring 2013 collection. Its falling beauty, Kirstie Brittain, looks like a candidate for P.G.O.A.T. She is obviously athletic too.

Brittain must have been flying high, and gracefully, on a trampoline while Jason Berman's camera rolled. The piece was directed by Aurelia Donaldson and Glen Milner. Among the credits for hair, makeup, colorist, etc. is Steven Thorne, gym coach.

Here's the link to the video.  As nice as the stills are you have to watch it to see why I thought it was so terrific.


Getting back to the P.G.O.A.T., which stands for Prettiest Girl of All Time, it's obvious Ms. Brittain is a contender. The title comes from David Foster Wallace's great novel Infinite Jest, which I am reading now and may be reading far into the future because it is over 1,000 pages.


There are so many beautiful woman that finding the prettiest is impossible without the help of the Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is Fairest of Them All.


The still below I would title "BYE" which is the endearing word that appears on my cell phone when I turn it off. And so to Ms. Brittain, we bid good night.






October 23, 2012

Photos and Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Every now and then I come across one of my old paintings that I haven't seen in a long time and like it in fact as much as I did in memory. This is one of those, even though I can spot areas I didn't do well.

I've been working on my studio, trying valiantly to subdue the chaos in the name of reclaiming some space to paint.

The young woman is Alicia and the scene is The Man of Kent in Hoosac Falls, New York, the English-style pub that Bill and I drive to for Brown's whiskey porter on draft, and a sandwich. It was so crowded yesterday that we couldn't get a seat at the bar and had to settle for a table.

John, the bartender who created the place in the image of pubs in his native England, came over to say hello. He's a good guy who runs a good bar and he's a big part of the reason we like the place so much.


Maybe I'll try putting a veil on her to add to my collection of portraits of Joelle van Dyne in the novel Infinite Jest. (See my October 21 post.)

Here's another candidate for Joelle, the Prettiest Girl of All Time:

She's Venus, from Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus. You know the one. It's often called Venus on the Half Shell.







October 21, 2012

Images by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Joelle van Dyne is, according to a former lover's younger brother, the Prettiest Girl of All Time, or P.G.O.A.T, in David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest.

At one point in the 1000-plus page book,, complete with footnotes, she joins the Union of the Hideously and Improbably Deformed and dons a veil so dense no one can see her face.

In a rehab center for alcoholics and drug addicts she tells a staffer, Don Gately, who is coaxing her to lift the veil, that her deformity is absolute perfection of face and body. She is so beautiful, she tells him, that if she lifted the veil he would never be the same.

But reading on-line conversations about Infinite Jest, I've learned that somewhere ahead I will be told by the girl in whose Manhattan apartment Joelle once attempted suicide, that Joelle's face was scarred by acid thrown by her mother. Wallace leaves you hanging, apparently something he does frequently.

So anyway I've been intrigued by Joelle and the novel in general and thought I would try picturing the way she looks in the manner of the computer altered photos of runway models I have been making recently. The last two were in my October 15 and October 4 posts.

Here's another:

A serious flaw in my depictions is that Joelle, at least in this stage of the book, is also trying to keep her figure under wraps. But before dawning the veil she was so searingly beautiful that even the guys on her college's football team are afraid to approach her.

That clears the way for the former lover mentioned in the first paragraph, a phenomenal punter named Orin Incandenza who will become a pro. She approaches him and he has no competition.

The quotation in the top picture is from one of Joelle's comments on a late-night radio show she conducts as Madam Psychosis.



October 17, 2012

Dad, 44" x 35", by Lisa Marie Goudey, who took all the photos on this post. All rights are reserved.

Lisa Marie Goudey is a 22-year-old photographer who is taking brilliant portraits. Personality shines through in the humerous photo of her dad Rick shaving and her 93-year-old grandmother GG putting her hair up in curlers. If the focus were any sharper, these pictures would be lethal weapons.

The young Lenox woman developed an unusual - perhaps unique - method of getting these shots while majoring in art at Cazenovia College near Syracuse, N.Y.

They are on view at Aerus Electrolux at 383 North Street, Pittsfield, from 9 to 5 on business days as part of First Fridays Artswalk.


Culture shock contracted on a trip to Haiti found its way into this series, Vanity, because Lisa started questioning the stereotypes of beauty in our culture, one that uses plastic surgery, liposuction, Botox and other forms of artifice in beauty's quest, a culture that thrives on celebrity and paparazzi.

So she started taking pictures of friends using a mirror to apply beauty aids when she had an idea that is paying tremendous dividends.

"I thought I'd love to be on the other side of the mirror. And suddenly it clicked."

She bought a two-way mirror.

Then she borrowed a 4" x 5" monorail camera from the college and started shooting. "I think I get more candid shots with the two-way mirror because the subject can't see me." While she no longer has access to that camera, she owns a large format camera, a Crown Graphic, that she is going to experiment with. In the photos below the monorail is on the left and the Graphic on the right.

In the age of digital cameras, these use film - large 4" x 5" sheets of film that provide great negatives. The Graphic, which had its heyday as the iconic photojournalist's camera in the 30s through the early 60's, is no longer manufactured. The disadvantage of the Graphic for Lisa is that because of it's carriage she can't get it right up to the two-way mirror.

Although she uses a digital camera as well, and gets great pictures with it, she comes down on the side of film. “On the more artistic side, film is more crisp and you have more control." And she finds the darkroom calming. “You can’t rush the process."



In this photo, Kira, the subject in a state of deep concentration is pulling off a face mask. I find it an incredible shot in it's intimacy and immediacy.

Not every woman would sit still for these pictures because they show every crease in the skin, every pore. 

You see that in the extreme in the portrait of her grandmother. But through Lisa's her grandmother is beautiful. And the almost transparent skin of GG's arms is luminous.

Below, Sasha is putting in a contact an every day action for millions of Americans.



Lisa is now working per diem in admitting at Fairview Hospital and building a darkroom in the basement of her family's home.

"I'm making contacts and trying to make things happen while I figure my life out."

Lisa has self-published two books of photography on Blurb. You can sample or buy them by clicking on Vanity or Haiti. You can buy Vanity in soft cover for $44.95 and Haiti in hardcover for $54.95. To get an idea of her versatility, take a look at Haiti on the blurb website. It is full of color photos of the people of that impoverished nation.



October 15, 2012

Composite Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This young woman wearing a Vena Cava outfit I saw on mnzstore.com is masked and dangerous. I gave her the mask and made the sections of the chain link fence that cover the photo of the model. It is the latest in my computerized section of the Runway Series.





October 13, 2012

Cheryl Ann Luft was inspecting Rosemary Starace's long, long piece combining art and poetry last night when she turned to see who was behind her  just as a clicked the camera. She looks less than delighted . Actually we joked about it and - great reporter that I am - I neglected to ask her name. Rosemary filled me in via facebook.

Three accomplished women artists have filled the Lichtenstein in Pittsfield with poems that are painterly and paintings that are poetic. Their show, Without a Map, opened last night and will be up through November 17. The title of the show, I think, says a lot about their approach to their work.

The show highlights paintings by Carol Beth Icard of South Carolina, formerly of Lanesboro, a former Pittsfield artist Anna Rowinski of Holyoke, and the creator of the long piece in photo above, Rosemary Starace of Pittsfield, which combines visual art and poetry.

"The works are diverse but cohesive," said Carol Icard of the show that can be seen from noon until 5 on Wednesdays through Fridays. The Lichtenstein is located on Renne Avenue off Fenn Street in downtown Pittsfield.

Here's one of my favorite Icard pieces. As someone who's been using rusted steel plates in his work, I love the rust she's been able to create on canvas. I own a small piece of her's that I bought years ago at a show at the Williamstown Library. It is 30" x 22"

Here's my favorite Rowinski in the show, a small but powerful piece by Anna Rowinski. I also have a terrific small painting which she gave me years ago when we were in an art group.

Starace's work includes 14 pieces. For each she has torn a page out of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. By painting out words in the text on each page (above) Starace turns the page into a poem. In these two photos you can see the process. For years she was a painter, but in recent years she has turned to writing. In this piece she combines both arts. I found myself going up and down the row reading when I visited the gallery a day before the opening.



Here are two more of Icard's paintings. I met her through a late friend of mine, Gae Elfenbein, and I guess I will always make a Gae connection with Icard's work and their wonderful surfaces and colors.



Above is another small painting by Rowinski and, below, a detail from another of her paintings, taken from Cultural Pittsfield's blurb on the show. Rowinski and her twin sister are caring for their elderly mother and her studio now is a table in her bedroom in that house.

Because of the surroundings, Rowinski can't get as energetically immersed in her painting as she likes because paint would spatter the furniture, rugs and bedding. Once when painting energetically she looked up at the ceiling and wondered what the two green bugs were. It turned out they were paint that had been lashed skyward by her brush.

In Cultural Pittsfield's introduction to the show Rowinski says, the three share “a common ground beneath [our] feet.”

“Each of us leans into the darkness, releases her vessel and sends it down on its journey like a prayer. In time, what is reflected back—what is retrieved—is uniquely our own.”

I like that a lot.



October 11, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


UPDATE: Pittsfield Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski says the fire was arson. "It was definitely intentionally set," the chief told The Berkshire Eagle.

Fire last night finished what vandals and thieves had started, destroying the former caretaker's house at Ponterril in Pittsfield.

I'm betting that it was arson that ravaged the building at the YMCA's abandoned camp and recreational facility on 77 bucolic acres off Route 7 in the northern section of the city.

I live a short distance from the house. It was eventually going to be demolished - as are all the Ponterril buildings except the large boathouse on Pontoosuc Lake. I noticed several days ago that the door of the house had been pried open again, giving access to the boarded-up structure. Hopefully no one was trapped inside.

In May the city approved installation of a solar farm on 22 acres of the property. As yet no solar panels have been installed.

In the last few years Ponterril buildings have been stripped of copper piping, electric wiring, playground equipment, chain link fencing, flashing and anything of value that could be stolen. I've seen trucks of a few contractors on the site and suspect that they were helping themselves.

Kathy phoned us to tell us about the fire and I hiked up the hill to get photos. It was like being a reporter again. But I was a bad reporter and failed to talk with any firefighters to get the story.

That reminds me of the first serious fire I covered in North Adams about 50 years ago. I was on the scene a long time and deadline was approaching. A fellow reporter told me later that a less than happy Phil Lee, the managing editor editor, asked, "What's Grier doing - spectating?"

Unfortunately that was pretty much the case. One fireman took pity on me and told me they had found a man dead upstairs and I went back and wrote my story.

When Phil Lee was reading it, he called across the room to me, "How many feet of hose were laid."

I got on the phone with Chief Gerard and asked him.

"How would I know?" he asked. "Make up a number and I'll back you up if any one questions it."

I was wearing an overcoat with a velvet collar that I bought at Roberts on Main Street. I thought it was pretty cool. But I must have looked like a dandy because when I was going up the steps into the burned house a fireman asked me in annoyance, "Why don't you go back to Williamstown where you belong." Williamstown is the upscale home of Williams College.

Phil, I'm glad I don't have to report back to you. Not only don't I know how many feet of hose were laid, I don't know anything about the fire or its cause. A half-dozen fire trucks, an ambulance and at least one police car were on the scene. I remember Phil fondly. He taught me a lot about reporting.

Firefighters used one hydrant and water from the trucks, in this case poured into a portable pool. I'm not sure they ever needed to use this one.

The solar farm which was to generate enough electricity to power 500 houses was welcomed by East Acres Road residents tired of the property's rundown condition, the vandalism and occasional vagrants. Now we're worried it may never be built.

The first caretaker to live in the house was Murchie Bell, a hard worker and a great guy. Our kids played with the Bell's kids. Once a popular place for swimming, summer camp and company picnics and family reunions, Ponterril had lost its luster and its economic base years ago.



October 9, 2012


"Welcome to Pittsfield, Dr. Ruth." This photo and all put one of the others in this post are by Susan Geller, who holds the rights to them.

Susan Geller's first solo show of her photography was notable not just because it was jammed with people on First Fridays Artswalk, not just because of her fine photos, but because Dr. Ruth showed up.

The famous sex therapist, who became a radio and TV celebrity in the 1980s,

dropped in because Susan had taken a great photo of her (above) in the Fourth of July Parade in Pittsfield. It conveys the legendary energy and joy in living that the 88-year-old exudes.

With the same gusto, she pointed out the photo on the wall of Gallery 25 - also known as Mary's Carrot Cake on Union Street across from the Barrington Stage. Susan took it down and handed it to the theater company's director, Julianne Boyd and asked her to give it to Dr. Ruth later.

On Saturday Dr. Ruth phoned Susan to tell her how much she liked the photo and inform her that it was now hanging in her home in New York City.

Dr. Ruth, right, and Susan Geller   at Susan's first solo show during First Fridays Artswalk. Photographer not identified.

So now there is an empty space in one space in the show that artist Scott Taylor had hung for Susan, a Pittsfield native and enthusiast. But that is no reason not to go to the show which is open from noon to 5 on Thursdays through Saturdays this month. Called Children And Other Loves here is some of what you'll see.

Blue Hat

Love Violin

Hello Dinosaur

Love Watermelon

Some of the children she had photographed came to the opening, which Susan said "was really sweet." Some of them are shown below at the opening.

Susan loves kids. She taught elementary kids in Boston early in her career, which included a 3-year-stint as a teacher in Germany at a Defense Department school for armed forces dependents. Her 30 years in education included time as a high school teacher and as a guidance counselor in Dalton and Adams before retiring in 2004. In the last four years Susan has jumped back into photography, supplying pictures to the Berkshire Eagle, among other outlets, and to the Girls' Club, which honored her this month for her volunteer efforts on the club's behalf.

In that time she has had photos in many shows. One of them, a fund raiser for the Barrington Stage, brings last Friday's event full circle. At that event two years ago the actress Debra Jo Rupp bought four photos Susan had donated.

Rupp just happens to be who Dr. Ruth was on her way to see when she dropped in on Susan's show. Rupp was playing the title role in Dr. Ruth - All the Way.

Written by Mark St. Germain and directed by Boyd, the play was such a hit at the Barrington Stage's second theater in town that it was extended into the fall. The last performance was Sunday.

I'll leave you with one more shot from Susan's show. It was taken on a hot evening on North Street during a Third Thursdays celebration.



October 6, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Come on. Jump in the Prius with us. After days of rain we have a lovely sunny day. Babbie's driving and she's good. We're heading up from Tarrytown, New York, to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Most of the trip's on the Taconic Parkway, one of the most beautiful roads in the country.

Now we're about to cross the AMVETS bridge over the Croton Reservoir in upper Westchester County. It's just reopened after a $26 million rehabilitation. Built in 1931, it's only 4 years older than I am.


It's beautiful, isn't it. I love the red girders. When I was a kid it carried both north- and south-bound traffic. Which was a little tight. Now it's north-bound only.

Morning fog has yet to burn off in places.

Now we're driving along the downhill section lined with stone walls. I used to love this stretch when I had an MG - a long time ago - because of the way the exhaust note echoed off the wall.

Because of the wall and the curves this narrow stretch can be a little hairy if you're going fast. Don't worry, Babbie isn't doing 85. It was really scary in the old days because they didn't have the crash rail in the center of the road. So cars in the outside lanes were coming around the curves with only a white line separating them.

See the mountains in the distance? That means we're getting closer to home.

The foliage isn't out in force yet - there's still a lot of green - but it has its moments.

Here we're climbing and we're about to crest the hill - or drop off the edge of the earth.


Now we take the plunge down the other side.

Another spectacular tree. It's across from the scenic parking area not far from where we turn off the Taconic and head east on 295, which will get us home.

Thanks for riding with us. I told you Babbie was a good driver. And we got 54 miles a gallon on the jaunt. It would have been exciting to make the trip in a gas guzzling Ferrari. But then there wouldn't have been room for you.

Why were we down in Tarrytown? We hooked up with my college roommate and his wife. Babbie and I are from Tarrytown and Sue and Bob grew up in Hastings, which isn't far away. They live in California now. We ate dinner at the Half Moon, a Dobbs Ferry restaurant that juts out into the Hudson. From our table along its south-facing glass wall we could see a storm coming up the Hudson from New York City and then encase us in a deluge.

The roof over our table started leaking and the drops were spattering Sue. We beat a retreat to another table and the waiter put a silver ice bucket on our first table to catch the incoming water.




October 4, 2012

Grier Horner/All Righs Reserved

Why is xcss our Holy Grail is the title of this piece I did Tuesday afternoon on the computer. It is a variation on the approach I took in another computer-generated painting I posted two days ago. I like this one better.

I had a 45-minute conversation yesterday with an Israeli artist I admire a lot, Nona Orbach. Thanks to Skype we talked without charge. I can't even guess what a transcontinental phone conversation of that length would cost.

I find Nona's work and her blog, which she views as a form of art, fascinating. Her website is an archeological dig that rewards exploration. You have to move your cursor over the page like a dowser to locate its treasures. Nona is one of the artists in the online art gallery that represents me.

The model in my piece at the top is Marlena Szoka. The outfit was designed by Felder Felder and the photo is by Alessandro Viero/GoRunway.com.



October 2, 2012

Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is a new look I'm thinking of for my Runway Series, a look that would move away from paint to computer. What do you think?

Why is wealth our holy grail is the title, derived from the question posed on the piece.

The model is Marlena Szoka. The outfit was designed by identical twins Annette and Daniela Felder, who showed their bold designs during London Fashion Week last month. The photo was taken by Alessandro Viero/GoRunway.com.


Annette Felder, left, and Daniela  launched Felder Felder while still students at Central Saint Martins in London five years ago. In the photo they're taking a bow after their London Fashion Week show last year. The shot was taken by Ian Gavan/Getty Images Europe.



John Currin, not John Curran, painted this piece, The Bra Shop.

This painting, The Bra Shop, is by John Currin, not John Curran, as I incorrectly reported in a September 2010 post. It was to a spelling error. This has caused some difficulty for John Curran, also an artist, because the picture keeps coming up under internet searches using his name.




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