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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

December 30, 2013

My mother used to wear shoes like these. Relatively young and very attractive, she didn't don (don as in Don We Now Our Gay Apparel) them because they were fashionable, but because she had weak arches and needed the lace-up support these sturdy shoes provided. She dubbed them Grandmother's Pets - an assertion these were for unfashionable old ladies. I don't know if this was a name she made up or one that was used in the 50s to describe this type of shoe. I know some oxford's today are called Grandma Shoes. In any case, as a nurse and private-duty nurse she was on her feet a lot and needed them.

What made me think of this was the picture above from the women's fashion shop Maryam Nassir Zadeh in Manhattan and on the internet. These are called Anderson Oxfords. They are by Simona Vanth and cost $580 normally but are on sale now for $290. My mother would be amazed by the  price but  even more surprised to find that these clunky shoes are currently in fashion. I'm pretty sure her's had lower heels.

Talking of Anderson, tomorrow night is New Year's Eve. 2014. We'll have two couples over to celebrate the occasion as they have been for the last 20 or 25 years. Lately the party has broken up before midnight. But Babbie and I stay up to watch the risqué interplay between Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper.  They always crack me up. The routine is driven by her outlandish sexual overtures - outlandish for CNN - and his efforts to fend her off. Babbie says she loves to see Anderson smile. There they are in the picture below.



In a recent column about their year-ending antics, The Los Angeles Times:

" This is the seventh straight year for Cooper and Griffin, who've been through a lot over the years, including semi-nudity (Griffin's), saucy language and enough sex talk to make Cooper giggle like a kid.

"In a statement, Cooper said, 'Wait ... what? CNN hired her again? For real?'"

And she does run him through the wringer on  the show. But as uncomfortable as she may make him feel at times, you can tell he loves it. If he wasn't such a good reporter, I'd suggest he go on tour with Kathy as her straight man - even if he isn't straight.



December 27, 2013

Photo by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

For Christmas my 14-year-old granddaughter Riley gave me purple hair extensions for my pony tail. I haven't perfected the art of wearing themyet. But they are obviously something that every old man with a pony tail needs. I haven't worked up the nerve to go purple haired in public yet. Maybe I'll save that for the opening of the major retrospective of my work in 2015, the year I turn 80.

December 24, 2013
Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Linda Baker-cimini has a refreshing natural beauty. She is funny and talented. She has a vivid personality and some pretty vivid outfits, several of which are recorded here in the super-saturated prints I've been making lately.

These photos were taken during a shoot at her place earlier this year.

She converts her drawings into prints which have sold well over the years and is currently represented by the St. Francis Gallery in South Lee and has a group of prints at the Whit Gallery on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield, which currently has a Whimsey exhibit and Linda, in my book, is the Queen of Whimsey. To see more of her work click this link.

Print by Linda Baker-cimini/All Rights Reserved

I know my friend FX is looking at all these photos and will be saying "paint her." He gets annoyed with me when I stray into photography. In the early 2000s I did paint Linda a lot. One example is below. It's 4' x 4'. But I have a good time messing around with the photos on the computer.









December 19, 2013

Bulletin: Lisa Griffith, who runs BCC's downtown gallery, which was scheduled to be evicted last fall to make room for a paying operation, has good news.

"The gallery will be staying open for the Spring 2014 semester and maybe into the Summer."


Photos by Grier Horner except those otherwise credited.

Judy Artioli not only has art in her name but in her her soul and her DNA. Her father was an artist. But when he was about 35, she said, "he decided he wasn't going to amount to a hill of beans" and she grew up in an atmosphere in which ambition wasn't encouraged or praise handed out.

That was a shame, especially in light of her obvious and enviable originality and talent as an artist. She had started painting as a child but it wasn't until she was 36 and the mother of six kids (the youngest was 3 and her oldest 11) that she decided to pursue art at Berkshire Community College. There she was encouraged by Julio Grande, a highly respected Pittsfield artist and a teacher at BCC then, to continue studying art at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

At BCC and UMass she won praise for her work and advice not to let anyone "change you."

"It was almost like I had lived in a closet until I went to BCC," Judy said. College opened her eyes to the wider world of art and Judy, who had painted rather traditionally until then, "It was amazing to me the acclaim I got at BCC and UMASS from professors. No one was more surprised by it than me."

Looking at her paintings at BCC's downtown gallery you realize what great advice that was. It' obvious she's great with color - a wonderful gift. And who else would paint such a soulful sheep as the one she posed in front of at the top of this page holding a bouquet wrapped in cellophane.. Or the couple in bed smiling at the antics of their felines in Cat Play above.


The painting above Not Alone is compelling. How do  you explain the flamboyant goat in the top of the garlanded tree. The violent sky. The spirituality injected by the church door and arched window. The woman holding a baby. The white horse's head. The corpses in the foreground. When I asked Judy about the painting I was stunned by her answer. When she painted it. she was thinking of a nightmare period of two years when she was still a naïve teenager. "I was 18 and a virgin and I was raped and I couldn't tell my mother and father... Back then you kept it secret." Feeling worthless she married the kid, who had joined the marines  and was under pressure from his family to do the right thing. She had the marriage annulled later. They had a beautiful, perfect daughter but the infant died a crib death at three months old. Judy was hospitalized twice during this time - once for surgery and once for burns from scalding water. Her nights were plagued by terrible dreams. If all that wasn't enough, her brother died of cancer.

Not Alone is not a literal portrait of all that woe. But it still haunted her when she made the painting 15 years ago. "Things come out in a dream-like state...I put all these mysterious things in there... Isn't that why we paint. To express ourselves?"



In Sleeping Woman Still Dreaming, above, those things resurface in the wall of black-robed people standing in judgement of her.


Meeting Vic was a turning point for her. They married and have six "incredible" kids and 11 grandchildren.

For the most part her painting is not freighted with sadness. There is none in  Happy Woman with Cats, above. It is exactly what the title says it is. And it's all joy in Cats at Play near the top of this post. Her latest painting is a landscape, not in the show, that is "all about color" with no hidden meanings.

Judy and Vic run The Olde Farm B & B on the Skyline Trail in Middlefield, one of the area's hill towns, a town she said has "more moose and deer than people." In fact, one moose is a regular visitor to their pastures. Built in 1780, their's is the oldest house in Middlefield. They've owned it 40 years. While they still hay the land they no longer keep a herd of cows. Word about the place gets around. Next week some people from Bangkok are booked to stay. When you look at the photo of the Olde Farm below you'll understand its appeal.




She has a gallery and studio in the milk house. She showed years ago at two galleries in Lenox. The last exhibit was mounted by Judith Lerner at the fabled Ella Lerner Gallery. Judith says seven or eight of Judy's paintings were purchased by a woman who was probably a dealer. "I think Judy's terrific," Judith said. Her work is what art is supposed to be - "an expression of how she embraces and makes life. She  is incredibly playfull but also has political intensity. There is exuberance and vitality. The paintings are lyrical."

Lisa Griffith, the head of the BCC studio art department and operator of the downtown gallery, also praises the artist. "I find that in the playfulness of forms, and her use of quilt-like pattern, Judy tells a cryptic kind of story, dreamlike..." And in dreams, she points out, "everything does’t always make sense .

Judy is not represented by a gallery now and doesn't have the confidence to approach one. As with many artists painting is much easier than the commercial side of art. She sells out of her Milk House gallery  at the B & B but could be selling a lot more if she had a supportive gallery.

Back to the exhibit. Judy's debonair rabbit sculpture, looking like he just stepped out of one of her paintings, apparently hasn't noticed the fire-breathing apparition on the wall, a painting titled Jason Dreaming Blue Dragon, a subject her son Jason suggested recently.

Photo by Jay Artioli

You can see the show through mid-February at the BCC gallery in the Intermodal Transit Center on Columbus Avenue just off North Street. Judy said it is open from 12 to 5 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. But if you go when it's not open, you get a pretty good view just looking through the plate glass windows. Lisa Griffith, head of the college's studio arts department, is the curator of the shows at the downtown gallery which is still open although it was supposed to be ejected by a paying occupant last summer. I'm not sure when, or even if, it will close. I've got my fingers crossed.

"I'm a resilient person who kept plowing forward. That's what we all have to do," she says. Her experience when she was 18, she believes, illustrates "the importance of girls being raised with a high regard for themselves."

As for herself and her art: "I'm feeling kind of optimistic about the future." And I'm feeling optimistic about her future, too.




December 16, 2013


Photos by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

I've been working on photos of Nicole Rizzo again. I took a lot of shots of her last winter. And since then I dive back into those photos to manipulate the colors on my computer. As you can see I've been at it again.

Nicole, you may recall, is the director of a Berkshire burlesque group, Gypsy Layne, and is amazingly photogenic.


When I have these printed, they will be  about 60 inches wide. Maybe, I'm thinking, I should tone down the bursts of red in the two photos above.

Oh, yesterday Museworthy published the 18 entries in her art show. She did one, which I liked a lot, and I had an entry too. Tale a look.











December 12, 2013
Photos and Paintings by Grier Horner/All Rights Reserved

Meet The Solar System According to WGH IV, my latest painting. It's large - 48" x 82" and is acrylic on canvas. It is not stretched. Instead it will be attached to the wall through grommets I haven't inserted yet. I've been working on it off and on for several weeks. If you like it you can buy it for $1,900 . Contact me at [email protected] I'll even guarantee the painting. The guarantee is that you're not going to find one like it in any house or gallery you visit.

Oh, if you're wondering what that WGH IV is about, they're my initials. My full name is Winfield Grier Horner IV. And I hope you noticed that there's something unorthodox about my system.

Above is a close up and below is the painting I did before the Solar System. It too presents a view of the universe that hasn't been current for awhile. The earth in that painting is represented by the rectangle at the bottom that contains the writing.

Below is a view of the current painting from a corner of my studio. The arm on the left is in a portrait of my granddaughter Riley that I painted earlier this year. It blocks part of The Solar System because it is hung from an overhead system which puts it about 18 inches away from the wall.




December 9, 2013

Photos by Grier Horner

Anna Brahms has composed a symphony of art dolls on display at the new Whitney Gallery in Pittsfield. Her tableau of seven dolls at the Wendell Avenue gallery was so good, so imaginative that it threw me into into a semi-manic state for the rest of the First Friday Artswalk.

I say that fully realizing some readers will think my head isn't screwed on right or that I play with dolls. (Let me confess that when Riley was a little girl Babbie and I played a dolls with her often. The grandfather doll kept getting hurt falling from the roof of the doll house, where he retreated when he was in a funk. The younger dolls were always getting sick or hurting themselves, too. They were transported across the room to the hospital, where I was the emergency room doctor.  I'd fix them up. But they'd always be back. I never was able to convince that ornery old man to stay off the roof.)

But I digress. All that aside, Anna Brahms creates fascinating scenes and stories with incredible dolls. According to her websites - www.dollery.com and www.annabrahms.com. They have been displayed in Christmas windows at Tiffany and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York as well as at Lincoln Center's Gallery of the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and the Muse'e des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre in Paris.


Having the Dragon Woman stare down at them seems to have thrown the faerie princess and her daughter (below) into a catatonic state, a state undoubtedly helped along by the witches.
The theme for the Whit show is Whimsey. While Ms. Brahms makes a high art of that theme a number of other artists - including Pittsfield's queen  of whimsy, Linda Baker-cimini - make the show extraordinary. It will be up through December. The gallerys hours are 4 to 7 Wednesdays through Fridays and noon to 5 on Saturdays.

The faerie below seems to be handling the situation like a Pre-Raphaelite heroine. If you bought the whole crew, you'd pay more than $20,000, assuming they sold for the marked price. Individually they run from $2,000 to $4,800 each.


This is a picture stolen from the internet of the artist, who studied art history at the University of Jerusalem, then spent two years travelling with a puppet troupe, making puppets and performing. After her son was born she began making dolls, selling them to a Tel Aviv gallery. The family moved to Paris and then in 1981 to America.

She lives in Conway, Massachusetts, which is on Route 116 west of Interstate 91. I used to go through it on my epic 114-mile bicycle rides from Pittsfield to Groton, Massachusetts, on the day before Thanksgiving. That was in my 50s. I don't even ride a bike anymore.

If you listen to one of her videos - here's a link - you'll hear her say that when making dolls she always starts with the head.

"Oh the face! The favorite moment is when I paint it and it becomes alive. Once I make the head I know who the character is."

Making dolls, she says, comes from "a very familiar place within me" and "seems so natural... I love to send them out into the world."




Maybe I was so dazzled by the dolls because I'm going soft but I think  that the whole exhibit sets you up for a Romantic period. Here's some of the other stuff I really liked at the Whit.

This is illustrator Linda Graves painting The Angel and the Banshee which I really like. And below is a painting by Dennis Nolan, which is beautifully executed if not my cup of tea. The glass over the painting caused the various reflections.



And here is a wall of work by one of my favorite artists, Linda Baker-cimini.



December 6, 2013


I just submitted my two entries to the Museworthy art contest. Except for the second and fourth photos. I didn't submit them. In each case I simply colored great photos Fred Hatt took of Museworthy, a New York City woman who makes her living as an artists' model and who writes a fine blog on her life and art in general. Since she couldn't pose for the contestants in real life, she did the next best thing - give us four of Hatt's photos to use as a basis for our art

Needless to say she's a beauty and from what I read on her blog seems to have a lovely soul as well. If you click on the link to her blog it should bring you to her December 3 post, a reverie on Black Friday. The headline is Jesus and the Money Changers, a title she took from the El Greco painting with which she illustrates it. Here's a very brief autobiography by Museworthy:

" Girl of the city . struggles. hope. saved. seeking. baring body and soul."

She wrote it for one category in her art contest - calligrams. I didn't know what a calligram is. I just looked it up. It's a poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image of what the words express. So below you have my first calligram, which is not entered for obvious reasons. I just did it now to give you an idea of what a calligram is.



Here are two more of my doctored pictures, with apologies to Fred Hatt. . The one above is entered but the one below isn't. Although I like it a lot I thought it was too easy to do. Here's wishing myself luck in the contest. I think I'm going to be up against some pretty good artists.
December 3, 2013

Photos from  Gallery Yoram Gil

Today I'm featuring four of the 31 artists represented by the innovative Gallery Yoram Gil. In late October Gallery Yoram Gil returned to the internet to bring these artists to the public's attention and sell their work. An earlier effort had gone nowhere because the site, like Obamacare's, was not a winner. But Yoram Gil has put it through an exhaustive redesign that he and his artists - I am one of them - hope will bring success.

Gil's gallery is the only one of its kind I'm aware of. It exists online only but unlike others in that category it represents a relatively small number of artists unlike the others that represents hundreds and sometimes thousands. In that respect it is like most bricks-and-mortar galleries. And Gil is trying to duplicate the traditional gallery feel by making the experience personal. He wants people to phone him to talk about the artists and the work. He offers live computer visits with the artists. And he will give you your money back if you don't like a painting you buy once it arrives at your door.

Some of the artists represented are from Israel, Gil's homeland, and some are American.  Hadar Gar, who lives and paints in Pardes Hanna, Israel, is the creator of the large paintings above and below. Her oil at the top is Untitled (5-11).It is 53.5" x 82.6" and is priced at $11,500. It's depiction of a broken chain link fence makes you wonder what it kept out and what it kept in. This is not some pastoral scene. There is a tension in its prickly markings and ominous reds. Kumi, below, is 39" x 78.5" and is priced at $9,500.

In the last few years she has had solo exhibits in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Freiburg, Germany, Ein Harod, Israel, and Beverly Hills, California. About five years ago, she began painting in the cemetery of Kibbutz Ein Harod, where she was born. Her grandparents, who founded the kibbutz, are buried there.

(By now you've probably noticed the Close boxes on the upper right corner  of many of the photos. On the gallery pages, from which I copied them, the box lets you close a picture after you blow it up to almost-full-screen size.   






 This painter is Paul Sierra who lives and works in Chicago. His Swimmer #29 , 24 " x 30", shows his fluid handling of the refraction of light on the surface of the pool and its nude swimmer. He captures the feel and beauty of the scene and makes it look effortless. It's price is $4000.

His Domestic Goddess, below, is a 2012 oil, 42" x 31", for $5500. It's more whimsical but from the expression on the goddess's face, I don't think her life is one of domestic bliss. Is she riding her magic carpet to the house or is she trying to escape?

Sierra has been active as a guest speaker/visiting artist at 13 colleges and museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Latino Museum of Art & Culture in Los Angeles. (He was born in Cuba.) In recent years he has had solo shows in museums and galleries in Chicago, Corral Gables, Champaign, Illinois and Des Plaines, Illinois.







Gary Weisman is the sculptor who has created these bronze beauties caught in states of cantilevered suspension that require a knowledge of engineering as well as art. At 63 and 68 inches they are life sized and would add a lot of class to your pool. Gil is offering them at $65,000 each. Since 2000 Weisman has had solo shows in Philadelphia, Stuben Glass in Manhattan, Santa Fe, Taipei, Taiwan, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Back in the days when Yoram Gil had a traditional gallery in the LA area, Weisman had three shows there. Weisman lives and works in Upstate New York.

I forgot to give you the titles. The sculpture above is Unasking Whispers and the one below, appropriately, is Long Thoughts.



The last artist I'm showing you today - I expect to do others in the future - is Rachel Woolf of Rosh Pina, Israel. Above is a painting with a name - Suzi IV (the great-9)- as intriguing and playful as the painting. The oil is 27.5" x 39.4" and is offered for $3000.

Below is her oil on paper, Eucalyptuses in the Rain (25), a wonderfully mood piece and one of my favorites at the gallery. From the number 25 in the title I assume this is a favorite subject in her work. At 11.8" x 15.7" it is priced at $1000. I admire the work of all four artists shown here. If you've seen anything you would like to talk about, don't hesitate to call Yoram Gil. He's a guy who loves to talk with people - especially about art. Call him. You'll make his day and - perhaps - yours.










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