Scarlet Letter
Tramp Steamer
Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

November 30, 2009

Emily and Heather ham it up to make a crying child laugh. Photos by Grier Horner/All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving at Pete and Zoa's is not just a meal. It is the annual gathering of the clan. And it lasts from Thursday to Saturday.

This is my Thanksgiving album. It features:

Shannon, our daughter; Cookie, Babbie's sister; and Pete, Babbie's brother and host and patriarch.

The girls, Zoe, Sarah Mei and Riley, had a wonderful time.

The game Pitt is fast and loud. It fills the living room with voices calling numbers as they try to corner the commodity market. Players, from left, are Pete Jr., in from Wyoming, Zoann, Sarah Mei and Zoe.

Zoe performs on her scooter on the bike path along the river.

Riley with her Ripstick and Zoe.

A family portrait, with some members missing. The hostess, Zoa, is seated under the lamp in the back row.  Below we close out, as we started, with Heather and Emily, dozing after the big meal.





November 28, 2009

Climbing the mall road the other day I shot this out the passengerside window of the Prius. Those clouds, those amazing clouds.

To me 2009 is the year of the cloud, as I have claimed here before. I can't remember seeing so many days of great skies before.

Yesterday as we wolfed down a spectacular Thanksgiving meal at Pete and Zoa's - who have been hosting the annual family get together for almost 50 years - the sky was gray. But in the house with 23 of us at the table it was all sunshine and warmth and memories.

When it all started Babbie and I were still in our 20s. Now we are the oldest of the three generations there. Our children are now older than we were when it began. I hope all our children, and their children keep the tradition flourishing another half century.

Sticking my head back in the clouds again, here's another shot, this one on a sunny day.

Photos by Grier Horner. Rights reserved.





November 26, 2009

Odd Nerdrum is a painter who I tried to paint like when I was given this book some years ago. But I couldn't master his old- master style.

Still I tried recently to capture the spirit of this Odd image in a recent self portrait. I should have pulled the hood down further over my forehead.

Oh, by the way, happy Thanksgiving. Could anything be more appropriate for this great holiday than this photo? Why? Well for one thing there's the wattle, otherwise called turkey neck. For another this shot should give you something to be thankful for when you look in the mirror.

Here's a portrait of me drawn by FX Tobin, a guy who's been teaching me some important things about painting via email.

I liked this so much I had it framed. The shadow captured in the glass is me taking a portrait of my portrait.



November 24, 2009


This is a photo of a neighbor's house on a pitch black night with its lights on. The camera was hand held, giving the effect that the house is on fire.

Continuing the theme of orange and red, this is a painting by Hubert Scheibl, an Austrian painter I admire. His new show at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropak opens today. From the information I saw on the website, I can't figure out whether its at the gallery's Paris or Salzburg locations.

But I guess it's a little late to fly over for the opening.

Orange is also at play in this photo of the painting I am currently working on for my Dresden show at Bard College at Simon's Rock from January 18 to February 12.

I showed you mockups for the painting in my November 18 post.

What you're seeing here is the angel at the top and the prone woman, representing Dresden, at the bottom. The figures were drawn on canvas and were then cut out and attached to the painting with gesso.

The idea for the painting comes from William Blake's Pity, and the angel's face and shoulders were printed out from an internet image of that painting. Looking at what I've done so far, it looks like the angel needs breast reduction surgery.



November 22, 2009

I'm driving the Odyssey down Crane Avenue Friday afternoon when I spotted it coming out of Clark Road.

See it. See that yellow school bus making the right turn there out of Clark?

Who do they think they're fooling? They can't outrun us under the cover of brooding clouds. We just had new alloy wheels with extra fast snow tires mounted on the van. So fasten your seat belts, we're in pursuit.

The bus is hotrodding it but we're gaining ground anyway. And unless the driver's willing to risk the lives of 25 kids, he (or she) has to stop at the bottom of the hill where Crane ends at North.

Photos by Grier Horner/Protected by copyright

What did I tell you. Even if he (or she) wanted to run the stop sign, the driver was forced to stop because the cars ahead of it stopped. It's not like the movies where the desperadoes use the weight of the bus to push the cars out of the way like toys.

This is photographic proof that daring drivers like us always catch the bus.



November 20, 2000

Sometimes you see such beauty that you are transfixed.

Before I saw this scene I'd been amazed by the clarity of the late October light and its power to transform something as mundane as a busy intersection into something extraordinary. (See my October 31 post.)

Driving home I was pulling into my road when I saw that amazing cloud over Pontoosuc Lake.

I turned the car around, drove across North Street and into the Muscle Beach parking area, and walked along the shore. I took some shots, a lot of shots. (With all that motion, I guess my claim to being transfixed falls apart.)

Maybe this was a transcendental experience. But I'm never quite sure what that means.

Photos by Grier Horner. Protected by copyright.




November 18, 2009

Yesterday I was on the computer modifying a small painting of mine that will be the model for a large work for the show I'm having at Bard College at Simon's Rock early next year.

I didn't want to actually repaint the painting, which you can see at the bottom of the post, because someone wants it.

So the computer is a good way to fool around with possible approaches using the paint brush, spray can and cloning tools supplied in a software system. (The one I used here is Photo Studio.)

Another version is shown below. In each case the prone woman represents the city of Dresden, Germany.

Once I decide on the image, I'll use it as the template for a larger painting - 48" x 60". If it turns out well, that painting will be part of the Dresden Firebombing installation I'll hang at the college's Atrium Gallery.

The inspiration for my piece came from William Blake's Pity seen here. It occurred to me that his image of the horses and couple could be converted to the Angel of Incineration, a figure I created for this series.

The Angel is the means, in my paintings, of delivering the incendiary bombs that created the fire storm that killed thousands of civilians in that Allied raid on the German city in 1944.

This is a detail from my painting Angel of Incineration. The name comes from the conceit of most nations that God is on their side. So what better device to deliver the bombs than an angel. The oil painting below, 16" x 20", is my original painting.

Who knows, I may go back to this configuration. I had changed it because in this version her body seems contorted. So in the second version from the top I adjusted her body and lowered her wing. Not sure I'm there yet.



November 16, 2009

The show I liked best in Gallery Quest 4 was Hope Gangloff's at the Susan Inglett gallery at 522 West 24th Street.

In a slow art market her cool, classy acrylic paintings have all been sold.

The New Yorker on November 9 said, "This young drawing whiz shows large paintings of pretty, languid friends that are mannered and feel trendy, pleasantly." Seems on target.

The large paintings are pale with splashes of color like the dog and the buildings in the one at the top. I like the way she nails expressions and find the way she paints skin fascinating. Here's a closeup.

The New Yorker described the young woman below as "a plainly overqualified waitress lurching to grab a bottle of Tabasco sauce."

The young woman in the painting in the gallery window, is almost overpowered by the red dress she has stripped off and hung on a corner post of the dock, next to her beer. She is clearly annoyed as she looks at her cell phone. At what? A text message. The number of her missing boyfriend?

The show is at Inglett through November 25.

P. S. My friend Ellen  Lahr had some nice things to say about my art in her new blog:



November 14, 2009

The art critics, Charles Giuliano, in the beret, and Keith Shaw, hands linked behind his back.

Drawn Together opened at the Lichtenstein last night and was jammed. Despite the date - it was Friday the 13th - everything went well. (The shot above was taken at the end stage after many had left.)

I had a wonderful time. And I think a lot of other's did, too. Many stayed for a long time.

Unless otherwise noted all the photos in this post were taken by my 10-year-old granddaughter, Riley Nichols, the official photographer of all my shows. 

This is Matilda, Gae's granddaughter, with a fashionable friend.


And this is Gae Elfenbein with Linda Baker-Cimini's drawings, a bunch of which sold.


This is me with Ingrid MacGillis with a Barbieo Barros work to the left.

Julie Love Edmonds, with a few of  her paintings.


One of Betsy Dovydenas's paintings. Photo by Grier Horner

Two of Barbieo Barros Gizzi's collages. Photo by Grier Horner

Nancy Nirenberg studying Paul Graubard's Paul Bunyon paintings.

Susan Hartung's work. Photo by Grier Horner

And bringing up the rear, the photographer doing a little experimenting.




November 13, 2009

The paintings were hung by the piano with care

The reception's tonight. Hope you'll be there.

There's a little megalomania, I suppose, in being in a group show and posting only about your own paintings.

Be that as it may, I and the rest of my group - Linda Baker-Cimini, Betsy Dovydenas, Barbieo Barros Gizzi, Julie Love Edmonds, Paul Graubard, and Susan Hartung - would love to talk with you at tonight's reception.

It takes place from 5 to 7 at the Lichtenstein Center for Art, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. There is a lot of good work there. Plus wine, Coke and assorted goodies. Maybe even a few badies.


November 12, 2009

It's finished. I've worked a long time on this painting, Runway (Number 7). You can see it unfinished on my November 2 post. The piece is 6' x 4', acrylic on canvas.

This is one of three from the Runway series that I will hang in the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts today for Drawn Together.

That's the name of the show featuring the seven members of our art group, which has been meeting for eight to 10 years.

The reception is tomorrow night from 5 to 7. You're invited. The Lichtenstein is located at 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The other members of the group, all accomplished artists, are Linda Baker-Cimini, Betsy Dovydenas, Barbieo Barros Gizzi, Julie Love Edmonds, Paul Graubard and Susan Hartung.

Drawn Together runs through January 9. The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5.



November 10, 2009

Into the Crosscurrents, Christine Heller's 25th solo show, is a powerful return to abstract expressionism.

Before this new series, she had been working for about four years on paintings about the Iraq War, paintings that were often devastating and started leaning toward abstraction, a style she often used in the past.

The current paintings were done during "a year in which tumultuous shocks have thrown me into a new stage of life," Christine says. Those shocks included the death of her mother.

During this period she found her studio in Hudson was a sanctuary.

"I didn't feel afraid in the studio," she said. "I was trying to work from my feeling of freedom there, going where ever the paint took me. It felt like I was working up to a fever pitch and I just didn’t want to stop."

You can still see figurative traces in some of the new paintings. Look at the one above.

You can see the turmoil in her life during this period pouring out in the forceful images.

"I kept crashing through to new ground," she said.

This is Christine in one of two rooms filled with her paintings in the show that just ended at the John Davis Gallery on Warren Street in Hudson. Davis has a strong stable of artists and sculptors and shows them to advantage in his storefront gallery space that leads out to a sculpture court and then into a four-story mill building.

The painting below is one of Christine's smaller works in the show. She says that some of her next abstracts will be much larger.

From the top the paintings are:

Blue Inferno, acrylic on canvas, 30"x20"

Dervish, acrylic on canvas, 30"x24"

White Curtain, acrylic on canvas-covered board, 18"x14"

 Dervish on the left and Ascending into Blue, on right

The One Who Tried to Forget




November 8, 2009

Photos by Grier Horner/Protected by copyright

Underground in the subway stations and subways in New York there is a golden cast to the light. Not quite celestial. More like a golden grunge. To see blowups of these shots, go to my Blogspot edition and click on the images.




November 6, 2009

Photos by Grier Horner. Protected by copyright.

I think the girl on the train yesterday morning was a fashion model. She was tall, thin and beautiful. This is not a direct shot of her, but of her reflection in the window.

By luck you can see the foliage of the trees along the tracks in her face.

I couldn't see her. But I could see her reflection in the narrow space between the seat back in front of me and the window. Here's another shot.


While I was very happy with what I got on the way to Grand Central, I was unhappy about a shot I missed in New York.

An attractive, woman was on 10th Avenue at the corner of West 24th talking animatedly with a young man. She was pregnant and this was emphasized by the blue and white striped sweater she was wearing.

Suddenly she yanked the sweater up so he could see.

I was watching this through the window of Trestle on Tenth, one of my favorite bistros. But I couldn't get to my camera in time. For consolation I had a duck tenderloin sandwich and a glass of pinot noir.

One more shot, to add a beauty and the beast twist to this post: A picture of my reflection returning on the train last night.





November 4, 2009

There are days in late October and in November when the landscapes you see while driving on country roads are stark and bleak.

Days when the sky is heavy with gray clouds, when most of the trees are bare and leaves sail as they detach from the few that are not. There is a sadness to these landscapes and a raw beauty. 


It was that kind of day when we were driving home from Hudson, New York, last Saturday.

Babbie drove and I shot. Normally I aim through the windshield by this time I also tried some side window shots. Which these are. I think they capture the mood.

Photos by Grier Horner and protected by copyright.




November 2, 2009

My art group is going to have a show at the Lichtenstein Center in Pittsfield this month and I'm going to put up two or three of my Runway paintings.

The opening is November 13, a Friday naturally. There will be a party from 5 to 8 that evening. Hope you can make it.

So I've been building 6 foot x 4 foot stretchers for them and stapling the canvases on.

In the process I've found that I want to do more work on some of the paintings. That's what I've been doing on the woman in the Gareth Pugh outfit with the horse of fire above.

I made her face very pale and added reds, oranges and yellows to the tail and mane to make them suggest fire more than they had.

Next I'm going to tackle the woman in the Alexander Wang mini dress with Baghdad burning in the background. For one thing the clouds of smoke have to be toned down a little.

Here's one I didn't put in the show, although now I sort of wish I had. It's better than I had remembered it. I like the armor plate that Alexander McQueen used in the outfit.

Also showing will be Linda Baker-Cimini, Betsy Dovydenas, Barbieo Barris, Julie Edmonds, Paul Graubard and Susan Hartung.

Paintings by Grier Horner, protected by copyright.


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Seth Harwood, writer

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Joe Goodwin, painter

Juliane: bimbopolitics

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