Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer

Archives / Links / Represented by Gallery Yoram Gil


Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man


December 30, 2012


Hybrid by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

This is my newest version of Joelle van Dyne. Despite being The Prettiest Girl of All Time, she took to wearing a heavy veil so no one could see her face.

A main character in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, a 1000-page novel I've been reading and rereading for months now. I've been intrigued - as well as frustrated with it. Babbie calls it an obsession.

This Hybrid - I'm calling it Joelle Looking Up - was constructed on Photoshop Elements 11 using a runway shot of a model and a photograph of a "sniper veil," which I modified substantially to define a face underneath the material. I've got to try to figure out who designed the dress so I can give him or her credit. It is a gorgeous dress.

I was trying hard to learn the process of taking a section of one photo and placing it seamlessly on another. I spent hours trying to do it. Fortunately my granddaughter Riley came over for supper last night and I explained what I was trying to do and showed her part of a video on the process.

Within 10 minutes she had figured out the vital step I was failing to take.






December 28, 2012

Photo by Babbie Horner/All Rights Reserved

Thursday was the first time this winter I rolled my snowblower out of the shed. The blower, a 20-year-old Ariens, was tuned up recently and ran like a charm as it sent up its rooster tail of snow.

Last season it ran rough and would stall if I didn't keep it partially choked all the time. With it's new carburetor, the Ariens is very happy. And when it's happy I'm happy.

I used to clear Joan's driveway too but she died this year and someone else owns the house and is fixing it up for resale.

Although no one's living there, they keep the lights on and when we look over at night we catch ourselves thinking she's there. Joan was one of Babbie's best friends and I liked her a lot too.

Speaking of death, The Berkshire Eagle on Wednesday ran a fascinating obit. It was topped by a black and white version of this photo, which shows Edith M. Fagley, 91, of Lanesboro sky diving in the last year of her life.

She not only jumped once in 2012, but twice, and Mrs. Fagley was planning a third. Her tandem sky dives were part of a bucket list the family called "Edith's Excellent Adventures."

Her website describes her first jump this way:

"Without flinching, Edith took her position at the open door of the plane at an altitude of 13,500 feet before leaping into a free fall of 110 mph!

"It's so beautiful. I can see forever", Edith said over and over, finally free of her cane and walker.

"Edith flew full of awe, in tandem with the most experienced skydiver, before gliding into a perfect soft landing at Orange Airport. Upon hearing of an older woman who made the same jump, she responded, "I'll be back".

And she was.

The website also documents her other bucket list triumphs, which include her first roller coaster ride and getting a tattoo.

"It's been the best year of my life!" Mrs. Fagley said.


And here I am thinking that snow-blowing at 77 is worthy of a picture. No matter how long I live, there will be no photo of me jumping out of an airplane.

Another thing I know. I buried the lead* in this post. That's a journalistic sin. And I was a newsman for 39 years, 32 of them at The Berkshire Eagle.

*The lead is the first paragraph in a news story.




December 26, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Life with Riley can be a blur. Here are some Christmas day pictures to illustrate my point. She loves the day and moves in bursts to show what she's opened to the family, and in this case, to try on two items from her Uncle Chris.


The hat and hoodie become streaks in the low light of the living room (above). So does the wrapping as she casts it off below, framing her father's face in the process. In the last photo she's slowed down, but only a little.


While we couldn't be with our other four grandchildren, we Skyped the Louisiana contingent. We watched emailed videos of the twins in New Hampshire acting like 2-year-olds in the midst of a toyfest - which they were. The antics of the kids, whether in person, on Skype, or on wideo, made us laugh. And no matter what the format, their personalities shown through and warmed my heart and Babbie's.


December 24, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Our annual Christmas Party for family and a few of our kids' friends was held Saturday night and three of our five grandchildren were with us. The two missing grandkids and their parents, in Louisiana, were sorely missed.

The photo above is of the mantle piece in the living room, where we set the table for 12. And below is the buffet feast Babbie set out on the dining room table.

Everything was as good as it looks, including a dish prepared by a friend who didn't attend because of a cold she didn't want to pass on to the twins - or anyone else. Chad and Chase will be two next month. Riley is 13. And down South we have Roan, 5, and his sister Ada, 4 months.

Let me take this opportunity to wish all the members of our clan, and you, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.





December 19, 2012


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved


You may  have seen the movie "My Left Foot." I did, but can't remember what it was about. I hardly ever remember what movies I've seen were about. Even a few days later. Sometimes I can't even remember the movie I watched the night before. Not even the title.

Alzheimer's? I don't think so. My mind has betrayed me that way with movies ever since I can - I was going to say remember. That may not be a convincing word in this context.

Anyway this post is "My Right Ear." You can see from the photo above* and the one below that that appendage is the large economy size.


Below is a photo I took last night. If you look at that one carefully, you should be able to detect a notch about three quarters of the way up on the outside rim.  That's a section that was removed Monday because it had been infiltrated by skin cancer. The pathologist, on the basis of what was removed, told the plastic surgeon that he got all of it and the plastic surgeon told me.

I just noticed that the right ear looks a little clipped in the first photo. It was sliced off, not by the surgeon, but by the camera.


It hurts a little. But the biggest pain is that I can't wear my earphones to listen to Infinite Jest on my iPod - I started reading it over a short time after I finished it earlier this month. Oh, yes. I can't sleep on my right side either and have to use a second pillow to keep my head elevated.

It was my third skin cancer operation so far - the price for being a lifeguard for three years when I was in college.

*I've just realized, from the top photo, that Apple's Photo Booth application shots mirror images. In other words it puts the right side of your face on the right side of the photo - just like the one above, which was shot in a mirror.

But a camera puts the right ear on the left side of your head, which is where it should go since that is how a person looking at you would see it. Get what I mean? I'm confusing myself.



December 17, 2012


Hybrid by Grier Horner

This is my new version of my late roommate William Monaghan, who we called Monk. It may undergo further changes.

It began life as a Xerox blowup I made a few years ago from a late 1950's snapshot at Bob Gersky's wedding. Bob was our other roommate. That's the blowup below. So I worked backward from a finished work to get an approximation of the snapshot it came from.

The blowup had ended up in the extravaganza below. Besides Monk it showed Bob and his wife Sue at the top and me and Babbie at the bottom. With the beer in her hand it's a reminder of a friend's nickname for us as a couple - "Beer and Grabbie." In fact our friend Nancy introduced us as Beer and Grabbie at a party yesterday.

At the very bottom of this piece is Ingrid Bergman, who I used as a stand-in for one of Monk's college girlfriends. For better or worse, in a fit of studio cleanup, I threw this piece out. It was about 4' x 4' and took a lot of work. But with the cigarette packs, roses, leaves and miniature oranges from one of our plants, it seemed cluttered.


Working backward I came up with this image, from which I took the close-up at the top of this post.

Monk, by the way, was a great guy and one of my best friends. He surprised us all by flunking out of Brown half way through his senior year. I was an usher in his wedding and visited him in Washington, D.C. But, to my regret, we did not stay in touch. With his death in 2000 at the age of 65, Bob and I got back in touch and resumed our friendship. We did not want the same thing to happen with us.



December 13, 2012

Hybrid by Grier Horner

You may think I'm repeating December 11th's hybrid but if you go back and compare it you'll see the difference right away. Yesterday was an art excursion for me. I went with a friend to Northampton. We saw some stuff I coveted at the fantastic Smith College Museum of Art and a space on the main drag I hope to exhibit in.


My favorite painting was one by Helen Frankenthaler, but I couldn't find a picture of it so I can't show it to you.

Hey, just in from my friend and fellow artist Eliza Cooney, some shots of two Frankenthaler paintings flanking a black Louise Nevelson sculpture. After reading my blog, Eliza came to the rescue by returning to the museum yesterday and taking these photographs. The one on the right is my favorite.




Another I liked a lot was this one, Temptation, by Whitlock Lovell. It's in charcoal on heavy boards. The real chair installed in front of it gives you an idea of it's size. The window frames over sections of the painting, done in 2000, fascinated me because they reminded me of the way I framed the head on my Hybrid at the top of the post.


This huge painting, 70" x 102", The Liberation of Saint Peter, was hung dramatically so that it was the magnet that pulled you into the next gallery. It was painted by Antonio de Bellis in the mid-1600s. The angel frees the saint from prison while the guards sleep. Below is a detail of the angel's gown taken by Eliza. I told her I have trouble with folds and thought if I studied this it might help me.



Now here is little Henrietta Elizabeth Frederica Vane, painted in 1783 by Gilbert Stuart, famous for his portraits of George Washington. Below is a detail Eliza took with her iPhone. Again I thought it would help me with folds. Stuart and de Bellis make it look easy. Of course it's not.

So the next painting of mine is going to knock your socks off because of the sophistication of the folds. Watch for it.

Whoops. I almost forgot to tell you about the space where I'm going to apply to exhibit. It's A.P.E., which Eliza has nicknamed ape although she believes its called by its initials. A.P.E. is right on the main drag and is large and white and has several huge windows facing the street. She told me about it last year and I thought it would be the perfect place for my show Remembrances of Things Past at BCC's Intermodal Gallery last summer.




December 11, 2012

Hybrid by Grier Horner

This is another of my portraits of Joelle van Dyne, the woman in Infinite Jest whose short movie robbed men of the desire to do anything other than watch the film endlessly.

The red, yellow and black painting in the background is a photo of one of mine. The body came from one source, the head another and I used the computer to paint sections of both.

Three others can be seen at November 22 - the worst I've done - November 19 and November 7.

I think I may start calling these hybrids. I haven't found an art term that seems to cover the process.

Oh, by the way there have been strange occurrences in our house. Maybe we have a ghost, a wraith, a spirit. We don't need an exorcist. It causes no harm. So far. If I remember I'll tell you about that sometime.

P.S. - Jay Tobin and his niece Jesse are cooking up a gathering of local artists. It will be held this Thursday, the 13th, starting at 5:30 at Thistle and Mirth on West Street, Pittsfield.

"Uncle Jay and i were thinking that a holiday gathering of pittsfield/local artists could be kind of nice - get to meet each other in a different setting than just the artswalk," Jesse emailed me. Sounds good to me. Hope to see you there.


December 8, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Gypsy Layne performed briefly at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during First Fridays Artswalk and it was a great interlude for this arted out old man.

In these shots Nicole Rizzo, the burlesque troop's director, is dancing with Justin Green. Their performance was cool and hot and professional. A great team. Other Gypsies who entertained were Morgan Quigley and Jonathan Ambar.

The paintings in the background are by Mario Caluori, a retired BCC English professor. We share a deep admiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter and talked about that novel.

I started the evening at City Hall, which was participating in its first First Friday. Mayor Dan Bianchi and his wife Theresa were the hosts. She took people on tours of his office and the City Council office to show them that elbow grease, imagination and some reupholstery had gone a long way to making them more presentable.

She envisions more efforts to enhance City Hall's interior, including pulling off old carpeting in the corridors to expose the original terrazzo underneath. That has already happened in the City Council office and it looks good.

I have a work in the City Hall exhibit and hung out there for about 1 1/2 hours before going over to the 1Berkshire office across the street to see Terry Wise's handsome exhibit. Then I headed to the Lichtenstein, which has a very good show of work by artists who have studios there.

I think I wore myself out at Retro Fitness this noon because I was tired, time traveling and drifting by the time I got to the Lichtenstein. My face blindness gets in the way at social functions and I had to ask about four people I know who they were because I didn't recognize them.

In the past I used to talk with people who obviously knew me but who I couldn't place, hoping that I would pick up clues to who they were. But now, generally, I just ask.

While I was at City Hall a friend asked me what the globs were between the photos on my piece (see my December 6 post). Dried flowers, I told him. He thought they looked like phlegm. He was right. The flowers which I had dipped in clear acrylic for protection had lost all their color. I'm going to have to dab some paint an them.



December 6, 2012

Photos by Grier Horner

City  Hall has been added to the list of sites on the First Fridays Artswalk itinerary and one of my works, above, is on display there. In all eight artists are represented.

December's First Friday falls tomorrow - hard to believe it's December already - and will be held in downtown Pittsfield from 5 to 8 featuring the work of 50 artists. Receptions for the artists will be held at many of the venues, including City Hall.

I have a close association with City Hall. As a Berkshire Eagle reporter, I covered City Hall, among other things, for 15 years. Five days a week, at least once each day, I walked from the Eagle - then located in the flatiron building on Eagle Street - up Renne Avenue to Fenn Street. Come to think of it, when I first covered the beat in 1965 and 1966, City Hall was located in the white-brick colonial building on Park Square that is now a branch of Berkshire Bank.

During my time on the job - before I became business editor and then the associate editor - I covered mayors Remo DelGallo, Don Butler, Paul Brindle, Charlie Smith and Evan Dobelle. My typewriter, and later computer, churned out a lot of stories about what was happening in Pittsfield during that time. Some of them were pretty good. Some were not. One of my best was about a boy who died of abuse when a social agency failed to adequately investigate his teacher's fear he was being abused. For that series, into which I had put weeks of investigation, the paper nominated me for a Pulitzer Prize.

Back to my piece of art now hung in the hall I used to trod.

It is titled Passport and is based on my mother's passport when she was 18 or 20.  It is 4' x 4' and the two pieces are designed to be hung with no space between them. But I forgot to tell that to Scott Taylor, who put the show up.

Besides me and Scott, six other artists have work in City Hall: Joan Ciolfi, Anne Roland, Morris Bennett, Diane Firtell Susan Geller and Marguerite Bride.

It turns out that Mayor Dan Bianchi and his wife Theresa are art enthusiasts. Her tastes run more to figurative and his to abstract, she told The Eagle.

Theresa Bianci said she would like to bring art into City Hall on a regular basis.

"It's a great building, it just needs a little bit of refreshing and sprucing up," she said, and this is one way she envisions that happening. Appropriately, the show is called The First Annual Mayor and First Lady's Invitational Art Show. Working to make this show happen were Megan Whilden, the city's cultural affairs chief, and her assistant, Dan Gigliotti. It will be there through January 31.

Scott Taylor not only hung the show but supplied three of its paintings. The one below, along the main staircase, goes a long way toward brightening up the building, the city's former post office.



Mine consists of the same picture of my mother 16 times - one of them large. On the panel with 15 pictures, eight of the computer altered shots are are joined up the mouth, half of them upside down. I did it that way as a means of symbolizing the tumult in her life.



December 4, 2012

In this computer-manipulated photo, I laid a photo I took of a young woman in the Chelsea section of Manhattan a couple years ago over one of Mark Rothko's magnificent murals painted for the Four Season's restaurant at the Seagram Building in New York.

Designed by Mies Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, the skyscraper was finished in the mid-1950's and Rothko accepted  a contract to paint the murals.

They were to be so big that he rented an small gym to do the work. In three months he completed 40 paintings for the project. But he soured on the idea of providing eye candy for "every son of a bitch" who would eat in what he came to consider a pretentious dining space and pulled out of the deal.

When I came across a photo of this moody Rothko piece, I immediately thought how great a background it would make for my photo of the beautiful city girl with her cell phone. I always think of her as Red Riding Hood. Her outfit is great, right down to the small hole in her tights.

Someone recently asked me if I asked permission to take her picture.

I didn't. You can shoot anything and anybody on the street without worrying about libel.

Rothko isn't around to object - he killed himself in 1970 - although his estate would have something to say about it if the piece came to its attention. It's pretty pretentious of me to team my work with his.

The final group of Seagram paintings were given, by Rothko, to the Tate Modern in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Kawamura Memorial Museum in Japan.

This is the Seagram Building. I've never eaten, or even looked at, it's Four Seasons. But I was in the building a number of times in 1958 when I was working in the mail room of a New York advertising agency. I would sometimes hand deliver parcels from my company to firm's housed in the building.

I always loved these outdoor delivery jaunts, almost always on foot, reveling in the excitement of the crowds, the pretty girls and the new buildings like Seagram's and the green Lever House, which was my favorite.

And I still feel that excitement when I walk around New York these days.





ff f fd


Archives 2012 January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
Sept 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
Archives 2011 January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
Sept 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
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