Sunday, February 28, 2010

59 of 365 ...

as another month draws to a close, i guess i could best describe it as pivotal - along with a constant barrage of underlying affirmations of powerlessness ...

the month began with the residuals of Super Bowl - one of popular culture's barometers of sensibility; glitz, the thrill of mass hysteria, beer, junk food, scary movie adverts, quaint cuteness, gladiator brutality, aged rock stars, extravagance, blind patriotism, sophomoric humor, etc ...
is there any wonder why the popularity of the arts suffer ...
plus my personal disappointment with Brett Farve's heroic and painful loss ...

Janice [my wife], leaving home to be with her younger sister in Liverpool who was undergoing a radical cancer surgery - which turned out as good as we could hope for at the moment, but still wrought with concerns where all you could do is pray ...
[the 'c' word is one that scares me, and i avoid mentioning it when i can because the thought of it weakens me - i've seen it ravenously consume too many family and friends - and though treatments exist, it still remains the number one terrorist threat in the world - its power to insidiously destroy is only paralleled by cataclysmic events we can't control - but we can control funding and research as easily as wars] ...
the last time Janice was in Liverpool, she performed as the lead singer in a punk band called Night Visitors, and Collin the keyboardist, who lives in nearby Manchester was able to reunion after twenty six years while her flight home was delayed five days because of a blizzard in the USA ...
the powerlessness over discretionary policies enforced by the airline industry - seats left empty because they're classified 'revenue seats' in first class, despite medical emergencies that occur as a result of a passenger not receiving medications due to canceled flights ...

snow - and lots of it - and the paralyzing effect it has on the speed of business as we grow ever more dependent on systems that either seem antiquated, mismanaged, or recklessly attached to expectations of excellence - i think we live under a lot of false presumptions; that because we pay for a service, we'll receive it ... and when we don't, we're left unprepared: electricity, heat, telephone service, water, transportation, etc ... not to mention the hope that people would shed some self centered-ness during periods of shared duress - some of the same people that would text their support for Haiti won't let you temporarily borrow their unoccupied parking space in a blizzard - i guess you give what you can ...

then, another 'big one' - having to face the loss of my studio and the dreams attached to it because of economic conditions - and, for as close to my heart it is - i don't take it too personally; because there are countless doing much worse than me - whereas, i'm trying to preserve the luxury of supporting a few thousand square feet of studio space and the operational costs to sustain it, while there are many without decent health, food, or shelter ...
fact is, that over the past ten years, anticipated studio costs and expenses have quadrupled while productivity and income has only doubled - which under normal circumstances would leave me at a respectable advantage - but in a climate of aesthetic malaise and unregulated surcharges, utilities, and taxes - leaves me as [what Jack Nicholson said in Chinatown] - "the leper with the most fingers" ...
so unless i'm able to leverage my assets toward establishing a cooperative foundation, Harryn Studios may be facing corporate down-sizing ... but change is good - and if i can maintain the perspective of what would matter in a hundred years; it might only be the story of change i facilitated and the artwork that remains ... that's what really needs preserving ....

then there's this pesky little thing called Lymes disease that has me in a constant state of fatigue and headaches - funny; once i get wrapped up in my work, i hardly notice the symptoms which creates a false sense of security if i have a productive day - which leads me to think i'm okay and could avoid seeking treatment until it leaves me feeling and looking worse than before - and the good thing about being alone for the first few weeks of the month is that no one noticed - that changed, and i visited an infectious disease specialist who seemed much more literate than anyone else up to this point - i placed cautious confidence in him and trying to heed his direction, so we'll see ...

so jupiter has risen, there's a full moon in virgo, i turned 58 this week, Mother Earth is showing signs of aging, and today is today ...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

change on a dime ...






















i dig those old adages; "life can change on the drop of a dime" - and though i don't always know their origins, i get the gist ... it could have something to do with a phone call, or reaching out - which in my case, it did ...
things don't often happen in my time - which will always cause undo - self generated stress and anxiety - but eventually, things have a way of working out ...
i've been trying to make headway on a long-term business strategy which includes my studio, living space, and archives ... some of the plans require investor input, and in this economy they become as rare as snowbirds in winter - but i remain persistent and optimistic which is more than half the battle, until my energies begin to wane ...
today, despite the weather and weekend, i got a morning visit from a reputable business person who presented viable options toward achieving some of those plans, and once again lends credence to 'life changing on a dime' ...
sometimes it has less to do with finding solutions than knowing options and hope exist ...

i often feel blessed - perhaps others wouldn't see it that way - but i've been lucky in life to do what i love - to do what i believe in ...
i never forget it - and never forget that others are not as fortunate ... but i also remember that there are those more fortunate that occasionally need reminding - besides, we all have something to contribute - and pooling together beats pulling apart ...

Friday, February 26, 2010

the breath of ...













prayer flags + snow sags ... ideas + changes ...

i heard Boreas - [the north wind] - growl and chant all night long - with the same sustained perseverance as the Gyuto Monks' harmonic Freedom Chants - ebbing, drifting, and modulating without pause throughout the darkness ...
no wonder so many mythologies were born from nature in years gone by - before rational explanations and science demystified the events ...
fear often generates irrational behavior - but sometimes, in the case of pagan deities, fear coupled with imagination produced a heroic cast of images and stories - memories of humanity's childhood which become precious in their innocence - and poignant in their simplicity - "out of the mouths of babes" ...
today, because science is so attentive, and phenomena still exists along with resistance to change and acceptance - fear finds refuge in ambiguity and disinformation; usually seasoned with sufficient dubious evidence to prolong debate or sustain denial ... [post modern linguistics of appropriated truth; sounds like required reading for litigation attorneys] ...

i'm interested in allowing discoveries to remain marvelous while being cognizant of realities that govern them - kind of like re-mystifying science - and i believe that it's done by re-humanizing; or understanding and appreciating the simple human struggles that we all share in common while on our paths to doing whatever we do - i mean, the real mystery that doesn't seem to have any consensus is: the meaning of life thru death and beyond, and our consciousness of it - so it seems, that if we are to speak to what we know, then we need to focus on the events we participate in - the shared struggle and appreciation of qualities achieved and adversities survived ...

Jacob Bronowski, author of "The Ascent of Man", knew Albert Einstein - and described at one point, a story of Einstien's childhood - that he wondered 'what the world would look like if he rode on a beam of light' - a daydream that eventually revolutionized physics and the world after all the components of the abstraction were assembled - and its the word 'eventually' that becomes more interesting than the equation - what it took in time, study, sacrifice, navigating through the politics and prejudice of the day, the frustration, anger, delight, and the rewards of accomplishment and commitment - that's the real story of relativity ... and part of what popularized his idea, was not only the functionality of his theorems, but the collective consciousness of a world willing to implement the changes they implied ...
in a few centuries, the world came a long way from Galileo, Copernicus, and Newton ...

every day is riddled with the imaginings of billions of sentient beings - some never spoken, some are dismissed, and many surrendered to futility and resistance - but occasionally, with the persistence of a few - some of those ideas break through - and the process and stories of birthing ideas is something to be marveled ...
but i guess the same could be said for the astonishment that accompanies resistance to change and new ideas - yesterday's bipartisan summit in D.C. was a good example; especially when Obama asked one of his health care opponents if they would feel the same way about the legislation they were promoting if they only earned 40K ... the room fell silent - you could hear a politician breath ...


Thursday, February 25, 2010

holding patterns ...

it's imminent - or so say all forecasts - another wintry blast in the northeast ...
accumulations and severity seem to fluctuate with the hour's change - and personally, i don't think anyone really knows for sure - kind of like the office football pool; you increase your chance of winning by the amount of blocks you buy - maybe ...
fact is, after barely being dug out from the last mess, two weeks ago - we're going to have to go through the same unpleasantries again - its all very pretty, but the expense and inconvenience are getting a bit tiresome ...
the jet stream usually doesn't call attention to itself - but a few times throughout the year, i hear a distant, low resonating and steady howl - similar to a not too distant jet engine, with sustained winds of 30 m.p.h., gusting at 60 ... for some reason, i don't recall ever hearing it while living in cities - which might be a result of it echoing through the valleys and mountains - a little un-nerving, and certainly humbling and even a little scary, since i'm surrounded by a forest of old deciduous trees - many that just don't have the strength to resist the constant assault of unstoppable winds ... they often submit; leaning on power lines, house roofs, and almost anything else they can get their branches on - and sometimes they just lay down under duress in the most inconvenient places - even the deer look a little bewildered by it all as they navigate their routine paths, but deer usually look a little surprised by life in general - what a way to be ...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

character[s] ...
































all this new technology stuff is great - helps to keep up with the speed of life i guess ...
but there's something about a black and white print photograph from 35 mm film [or larger format] that has so much more character than the digital images - just different ...
the whole process of lighting, exposing, and the alchemy in the darkroom adds a soul to the image that even color film seems to saturate ...
i notice the same in some of the old 'film noir' classics, which i sometimes watch without dialogue, but with my own choice of music - like some of the old Humphrey Bogart's with Mingus, etc. ...
the top two are a couple of favorites - Picasso and Lee Miller, and Giacometti with his newspapers ...
p.s. i may have to reconsider my studio attire since i usually see these guys in ties ...

Monday, February 22, 2010

one peseta, plus ...













for as long as i can remember, I've been fascinated by the work of artisans and architects of antiquity - the monumental scale, resources, and knowledge required to accomplish their visions - a collaborative effort indeed - and you better get it right, because your life was probably on the line - now that's a commitment to life and art ...
similar projects are still undertaken, but probably not with the same expectation and understanding of longevity - except museums, palaces, places of worship, and landmark government buildings [but then again, look what happened to Baghdad - and was there really any reason to ruin the libraries ?] ...
the comparison between works of history and the present deliver interesting associations: Giotto's Arena Chapel commissioned by the Scrovegni Family, the Rothko Chapel developed by the de Menils' - the obelisk and sculpture at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA ...
beyond the earthworks of Robert Smithson, i don't see anything comparable to Stonehenge in the UK - except perhaps, some of Robert Irwin's and James Turrell's work - maybe ? - and that has troubled me since i was an undergrad, especially because of our increased astronomical acuity, access to heavy equipment, materials, etc. - and the fact that the earth is still where it always was, kind of ...
but i guess the question could be raised: why bother with the expense and effort when we could G.P.S. or Google our coordinates? - because it's less reverential, spiritual, or physical ...?
Things usually get made because they're a testament to what people or a culture believes in ...

rather than wait to be commissioned, I've been working pro bono on a project in bits and pieces since 1974 - thinking that i might be able to see it come to fruition one day - I'm at the model development stage and recently encountered a few prospects i might present it to ...
it's an outside chance, but so was Sagrada Familia when Gaudi pan-handled through Barcelona to keep his ideas alive ...

as always, in service to inspiration ...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

i wonder ...

she might be smarter than we think - though my instinct tells me otherwise - Sarah Palin and her band of vitriolic tea-baggers that is - a perfect example of what happened in the "dumbing of America" [referred to in previous post] ...
I'm not always good with spelling - some kind of letter dyslexia - so i always have a dictionary close at hand - [along with my art history, materials and techniques, and big book] ...
some words get assimilated into our vocabulary through media that colloquializes a word before we really know it ... [kind of like the White House party crashing couple] ...
'going rogue'; though it roles off the tongue easily, sounds a little scampish, and had a unique branding characteristic - is one of those words ...
so before i used it in yesterday's word play, i looked it up - the actual definition is much more revealing than i realized, so i thought i would share ...

rogue: –noun 1.a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel.

Synonyms:

bad egg, bad news, black sheep, blackguard,charlatan, cheat, cheater, con artist, criminal, crook, defrauder, devil, fraud, heel, hooligan*, lowlife, mischief, miscreant, monstrosity, ne'er-do-well, outlaw, problem*, rapscallion, rascal,reprobate, scalawag, scamp, scoundrel, swindler, trickster, villain

i do enjoy when humor imitates truth ...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

joe, [part two] ...













for going 'rogue' ...

can't seem to loosen my bite on the previous entry - maybe its because a simple shift in thinking - or lack thereof - can have - and has had serious consequences in the development of the arts in this country - maybe the world - but I'm not sufficiently informed to comment about global affairs and my sources aren't as reliable as they could be ... but i have reasonable suspicions ...

i do however, know an extraordinary amount of highly talented writers, musicians, and artists who struggle to make ends meet - and I'm not talking about dilettantes looking for social or therapeutic networking opportunities to compensate for their latest identity crisis - I'm talking the real deal - people who sweat blood and sacrifice what they must in service to what they love and were drawn to the vocation with a commitment comparable to a spiritual calling ...
there's absolutely no reason, with the amount of disposable wealth in this country, why excellence and expertise like this should have to struggle and pander for survival ...
or, to put it in functional terms, we are the Research and Development Division of Cultural Consciousness - and if our jobs are ill-funded or move to redundancy, the "company" will lose product viability to sustain itself in a competitive, global marketplace - sound familiar ?
[face it, some of the pipe dreams of the "Whole Earth" culture are exactly what is trying to be resurrected for economic recovery and sustainable energy resources - all the impracticalities suddenly become necessary for future development - even urgent] ...

we've seen it time and again with hostile takeovers - where economists and lawyers adept at loop-holes assert their pretentiousness in areas they have no qualification [ie., music, entertainment, and energy industries, etc] and create some bastardization of a good idea so the numbers align with their profits - its snake-oil salesmanship to the nth degree - no wonder guys like Bernie Madoff succeed - our greed manifests them ...

once again, to a lesser degree, I've experienced this mean-spirited manipulation first hand from power-brokers that would go to any length to validate the chip on their shoulders - people that would rather insult and destroy you than consider another opinion - whatever the cost; since self-righteousness and victory are crucial assets for the Gordon Gekkos' of the world ... ["Wall Street" the movie] ... and because so many people are beholding to the scraps received from the tables of the entitled, their need to compensate for whatever hole in their soul is tolerated ... [the indiscretions of some of our political leadership is an easy example - we're only human, but its the spirit that concerns me most] ...

off point: i recall one endowed friend telling me he spent more on annual dues to a country club he doesn't attend than i do on my yearly mortgage - and another, more on suits in one year he didn't wear, than i did on a vehicle i had to finance - and both required significant discounts on paintings - but there are things you have to do to keep up appearances - including being grateful ...

I've often characterized a shift in consciousness occurring during the rise of Pop Art - a movement that in part, addressed the banalities of popular culture, but i doubt they expected the mundane aspects to be elevated to such a respectable status - they simply took advantage of it - and if you think about it, the avalanche of mediocrity has escalated ever since - with the exception of a few aberrations - [or as they like to say on Wall Street - "market fluctuations"] ...
i believe Pop Art made it possible to know less about art to appreciate it - and to reduce the depth of history associated with it - and it all happened at a time when the exploding middle class became the primary accelerant for big business - including the lowering of higher educational standards ...
a fragile period, when the corruptions of abundance were gradually undermining the values of high achievement and excellence and infiltrating a vast pool of resources - namely, the population of middle America - where the back alley opiates moved to nearly every home with televisions, newspapers, magazines and status quo routines advertised as the American dream - the luxuries of free time and diminishing ambitions, consumerism and wanna be's ...
a line was drawn, which subsequently eroded into chasm -
between 'the establishment' and 'the other' ...
the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' ...
the 'winners' and 'losers' ...
the 'left' and 'right' - and the 'right' and 'wrong' ...
so the games began - interpretations of inclusion, modified for exclusivity; common sense numbed by political correctness; herding of individuality through stereotyping by conglomerate agendas; and sanctification of hostility by a religious 'right' ...

Now we're at a point, after all the posturing and illusions of self assuredness are laid to rest -wondering where all the genius, spirit, and pioneering character has gone - what happened with the 'dumbing of America' and the 'taming of the shrewd' - and how do we, "get back" ?
It's going to take some healing time after being paralyzed and asphyxiated by modernity - but i've always believed its in the creative spirit of individuals who haven't had their chance - but i'll light that fuse later - for now, it's late ...

Friday, February 19, 2010

joe the collector ...














over the span of my career, i've had the opportunity to be graced by the company and support of many - most of whom, i remember vividly ... from my first teachers - the sale of my first painting, to the present ...
support and entrepreneurs come in many varieties - but for this entry, i want to focus on financial support ...
one of the advantages to not being a major blue-chip artist is that i've had the opportunity to meet the people who made most purchases ... they come in many flavors:
- the fashion and decorator-driven buyer,
- the person interested in keeping up with the Jones's,
- those who have a rapport/repoire with a piece,
- those who support your school of thinking,
- those who have confidence in your abilities and goals,
- those that need a product to fulfill their own ambitions,
- the persons interested in proving they can own a piece of you,
plus any number of permutations of this list ...
BUT - once in a while you meet the person that has a passion for art, is open-minded, has the financial resources, and will go to any length to find what they're searching for in knowledge or objects ... those are the extremely rare breed of collector, and i've been fortunate enough to spend time with two such people - be affiliated with a few more by one degree of separation, and hear many tales about others ...
their stories are incredible, and i always feel that i'm sitting close to the fire that has kept the engines of art alive through difficult periods of art history - they knew their responsibility, and as 'keepers', took it seriously ... some have died and some are reaching an age where their activities are limited ... i'm grateful for the opportunities i've had to know them, but saddened by the prospects of what lie ahead ...
and i'm not sure why, over the past twenty years, the legacies of such greatness hasn't seeded a new generation of high-spirited collectors - unless it has something to do with diversification, lack of intent - focus, or disinterest ... it certainly isn't because of lack of money at high altitudes ...
what i know through my experience, and sources, is that the extinction of that unique breed is imminent ...
though i'm still affiliated with many that have the 'means', their attention is more directed toward the preservation of institutions that commemorate them than they are about the ideologies that created the institutions in the first place ...
or, it could have something to do with the aggressiveness of fund-raising organizations, tax advantages, or the idea being promoted that if you help an organization - your money has more out-reach into the community - branding and messaging - but it may just be another way of saying: promote generality rather than excellence - or, there are no frontiers - only territories to preserve ...
either way, as i see it, this culture of fear over the past decade has accelerated some pretty far reaching effects - and even though i'm doing okay through it, the dynamic has shifted toward fewer that exhibit the kind of passion and dedication i once experienced - toward a less informed and committed collector ...
p.s. the photograph: i knew a collector that acquired a Gauguin painting - from his Tahiti period - a nude in front of a house with blue shutters ... it wasn't enough to have the painting, the man wanted to experience the location where the painting was made so he made the trek, found the house, and acquired the shutters - in the true spirit of Dr. Barnes ...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

miracles of improbability ...













i believe in miracles as much as i believe in the consequence of circumstances and logic - one doesn't negate the other; it only allows for the inclusion of all potential ...
more than once i've seen improbabilities align themselves to produce extraordinary results ...
they usually occur when a sequence of events produces unanticipated variables that co-mingle and fluctuate the momentum of incidence ...
so, to facilitate them; one can do the work of aligning what you can, introduce a few non sequiturs, or pray yourself out of the way of eventualities ...
since i'm practiced at all three, i'm doing what i can ...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

events ...














"Venus" in progress ...

my life as an artist over the past thirty plus years has been far from ordinary - as are the lives of most people if you really look at them - but aspects of daily activity do become routine, and in their repetition - mundane ...

i mentioned yesterday about not posting images of work due to a lack of significant changes. My friend Rick suggested that with the number of things going on, a snapshot wouldn't be a bad idea. My immediate response was dismissive; still trying to maintain my original position - until passing by my bookshelf and catching "Cy Twombly: Photographs" - which obviously wanted attention. It's a wonderful, slightly over-sized collection - in contrast to the intimacy and nonchalance of the images - an assembly of images that's easy to peruse - and it takes me one step closer to understanding his paintings through a visual journal of seemingly unrelated juxtapositions - often, it's the ordinary that becomes extraordinary via the artists' perspective - and even if it doesn't attain that loftiness - it's a moment in time through the artist's eyes ...

But any snapshot is that - a moment in time, framed by its taker ... and i often miss those moments here in blog-land ... every morning, I read a few of my favorite posts before traversing the news of the day, and for such a casual format, the posts often come off more formal than probably intended [or maybe too over-dressed for downtown cyber space] ...
point being, Ukiyo-e; or pictures of the fleeting and transient world - a japanese word/concept i often use to describe my own work - opens another door ...
For instance - has anybody ever seen Lally's bookshelf or kitchen table stacked with magazines and newspapers - Rick's latest keyboard configurations and notes - Cartwright's new favorite guitar and tech manuals - or Elisabeth's Australia - or Jamie's LA day - or Joel's walks through the woods - i have, but like i said at the beginning - my life is far from ordinary ... i often think how enjoyable it would be to see through their eyes once in a while ...

then i read an essay in TruthOut alluding to the big business of 'terrorist threats' and realized that i'm slipping into a cultural malaise as well - that if something isn't framed by 'significant' or 'crisis', it doesn't get ranked highly on my pertinence list - even with the simple act of documenting the subtleties of a changing painting - i begin to overlook what has become routine in my experience - forgetting that it isn't ...

Monday, February 15, 2010

on and on ...













detail from "Logos" ...

i haven't posted any progress shots of the eleven large scale paintings i'm working on - there's little to see at detail stages; trimming excess layers, polymer coats to strengthen the surface for more aggressive applications, edging, gessoing, etc ...
working outside usually inspires a lot more daily photographs - mainly because the environment captivates me and influences so many subtleties of the painting - drawing attention to how much change is actually going on out there ...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

disparities ...

i'm not sure what it is about today's politics, or religious views, art movements, television programming, etc., that leaves me feeling so uneasy - most times when i engage in conversation about these subjects, i'm left with an overwhelming feeling of discomfort ...

some of the by-products of coming up in the 60's included social awareness coupled with common sense and ethical fortitude if you wanted to survive in a world that wasn't quite designed for the 'fringe' element we wanted to participate in - and, one would often learn from the heroes of the day that were on the leading edge, whose remarks, opinions, and behaviors would often land them in a heap of trouble - the rule of thumb being - stick to the facts of what you know, finesse rather than bully and, be loving - because 'love' was a big part of what our generation was trying to fill the void with ...

all that seems like forever ago, but we adapt - and many of us have tried to maintain those core beliefs in the face of opinions compounded by unfathomable numbers and shades of grey ...
it's almost impossible to have an idea or opinion without being refuted by contradictory evidence - evidence that can often be substantiated by its existence somewhere in cyber-reality ...
and for some of the old trail-blazers, it all seems like too much hostility and antagonism to be bothered - like the resistance to what has become the mainstream is similar to being a life preserver in a tsunami ... and being discounted or dismissed for impertinence to the pervading myopia adds insult to injury ...
besides, the militant and reactionary aggressiveness of the factions that often headline the news has more tooth for ratings and frenzy in the 'blame game' than debates on principle and common sense ...

there's a reason why the ratings keep mounting for the likes of Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Hannity, etc - and programming about wisdom and art is so hard to find [or even Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine] ...

i believe the discomfort i mentioned in the first paragraph began to escalate around the time of Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings and Newt Gingrich's 'Contract with America' and crossed the tipping point when George Bush was dubiously elected President - since then, the 'pile of babel' has grown along with hypocrisy, distrust, and futility ...

Koyaanisqatsi ... that's the simple explanation ...


Saturday, February 13, 2010

tomorrow's challenges ...

great little interview with joni mitchell by charlie rose - also - you may want to check out travis smiley's interview with mitchell, then prince ...

Friday, February 12, 2010

winter antidote ...













i'm just about shoveled out from what appears [at least in my memory] to be one of the most severe snow storms in a long, long time - some of the drifts were three feet high, but with every shovel-full, it fades ...
it was actually quite exciting to see life, the forest, and the countryside become briefly suspended - where nature became the dominant and enduring consideration ...
i found myself looping through the attached video short to divert my attention from what was going on outside while i did office chores, etc.
the contrast is interesting, as are the similarities ...

Santa Monica Bay, CA - November 13, 2009 ...
video

Thursday, February 11, 2010

global positioning ...

i’m exhausted - and that’s just from daily routines and circumstances ...

been sleeping in three hour shifts every twelve hours to try keep up with United Kingdom time where my wife is stranded for five days as a result of a one day blizzard in Newark, NJ - does Continental Airlines offer hotel vouchers or the next available aircraft, or even upgrades for less than 4K to business first [where seats are available] ? - ix-nay !

Can you reach them by telephone without a message saying they can’t complete your call because of high volume - even though you called every half hour for almost twenty hours straight? - nyet !

so i surrendered to it and got to bed around 1 a.m. to be awoken by a panicking neighbor's phone call at 3 a.m. because someone was banging on her door and she was alone with two small children since her husband got stranded in Philadelphia because of the weather. It turned out to be a nurse whose shift ended at 11p.m. - and even though the highways were closed because of a state of emergency, the hospital didn’t offer to accommodate their staff - so the nurse attempted to take the overland routes using her G.P.S. which turned a half hour commute into a four hour drive under treacherous conditions. To top it off, her on-board navigator led her to the road past my studio/barn which is commonly referred to as ‘the goat path’ by locals, because that’s what its been used for over the past two hundred years - a single lane, 350 foot, winding drop, lined with trees that often fall when exposed to severe weather - and they did, leaving the nurse stuck and stranded.

And this wasn’t the first time - last spring a tractor trailer got stuck on the same road because his G.P.S. said it was the shortest route to his destination. It only took eight hours and two tow trucks and major damage to get him out ...

Did either one of them stop when they saw the road narrow or start to dramatically decline - did the township mount a warning sign after the truck did significant property damage? nope !

Are we beginning to recognize a pattern yet? yep!

Last night on Keith Olbermann someone was saying that our lack of effective mobilization during emergency situations represents a major security threat.

I’ll go one further - a lack of common sense and decency will destroy us!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

there's a road ...













"beep, beep, mm beep, beep, yeah" ...
as predicted - and as of 6 p.m. - it's still coming down - 24 hours worth of accumulation ...
and as Lally suggests, some 70 miles east of here, "the world seems smaller, more intimate ..."
And unlike my friend, since i'm much more rural and exposed to winds and drifting, i haven't even attempted re-sculpting the environment - and it's not likely that there will be any visitors or mail since the roads have disappeared ...
thank goodness we still have electricity and connectivity, and prepared for most any eventuality ...
it occurred to me after looking at the above photo - that every visible tree and bamboo, i planted from seedlings only ten years ago ...
my, how they've grown ...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

inside, out ...













"shadows of unseen things" ... plato
outsider, pt.2 ...

“Outsider Art” is a relatively new term, and by definition, always changing.

What was once used by Jean Dubuffet to describe the work of the ‘insane’, later became ‘art brut’- art, outside of the mainstream. Later, the art critic, Roger Cardinal extended the classification to include ‘naive’, and even ‘folk art’.

Today, “Outsider Art” is still considered to be produced outside the mainstream of popular culture, schools, and galleries; but as a result of broad-based consumerism, connectivity, and educational policing - the mainstream has extended its boundaries far beyond the usual urban art centers.

In addition, the institutions that were once the bastions of standards have become status quo and diluted by self-preservation, under-qualification, and special interest funding.

The current conditions no longer support the intelligencia that once propelled the activism of avant garde movements which contributed to the progressive developments of Western Art.

As a result, the majority of ‘true’ artists have migrated away from the ‘art centers’ causing de-centralizing of topical debate and further contributing to the non-specific pluralism that continues to erode at the fabric of significant advancement in the arts.

The systems that were established to inform and provoke art collectors, critics, and the public of accomplishment and issues are outdated in their reliance upon limited resources within the art centers.

I’m suggesting that today’s ‘real insiders’, the people who still draw their inspiration from that small pool of traditions as the League of Giants that preceded them, have become the outsiders.

There’s little room or time in the flow of the modern western capitalism to include the delicate honing of art forms or the development of one’s own true voice [as Keith Jarrett would refer to it].

Trends designed to maintain audience interest, require quick turnover.

And the issues of the day are no longer ‘insider‘ secrets - they’re only a Google away - but the work that addresses those issues with the skills of ‘vocation’ have moved so far to the fringe for survival and sustainability, that they seem irrelevant - or at least inconvenient in their accessibility to the marketplaces.

The ‘outside’ has become the ‘inside’, or faint pulse, of what art needs to survive in this culture.


Next, we come to the questions of what ‘art’ really is in our culture, and what led to the changes we’ve come to accept. Stay tuned ...


Monday, February 8, 2010

here we go ...

response to Super Bowl adverts ...
"here we go" ...
sure echoes the Bush/Rumsfeld battle cry - "Lets Roll"
looks like bud lite becomes the lubricant for collective stupidity and the beverage of choice for the Sarah Palin popularity campaigns ...
and i always enjoy the 'we' and 'lets' configuration - if one person behaved as the commercials go - they'd look a little nuts - but more than one, and we've got unanimity - which also creates anonymity for the likes of tea-baggers, birthers, bigots and idiots ... which says something about how the standards have been lowered for team players - and the fact that the networks and NFL turn their back on it for revenues ...
it's all about catch phrases and branding - and like i said yesterday - i'm concerned about literacy - or the lack thereof - and something about the bud lite and jim beam booze commercials that help promote deceit [rent-a-dog, get-a-girl ads] and collective stupidity that bother me - and even the cute, little insurance gecko who knows damn well what happened to his bosses first buck, or the allstate guy with a trusting face who played a black president on one of those mini-series tells you that he could make breaking up easier - or the doritos guy in a casket committing some kind of fraud at the expense of mourners - it all gets promoted through something these corporate giants think we need - screw truth in advertising - that almost doesn't seem to matter anymore since it seems anyone will do anything for a cheap thrill or a laugh - and the more sensational, risque, or scary - all the better ...
in my mind, i montaged a couple of commercials from the "here we go" ads and the upcoming movie that says "something has changed" - showing previews for "the crazies" ...
anybody have Nero's fiddle transcriptions?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

this too, will pass ...













same place - different day ...

sunday morning, and an entirely different set of circumstances - a cloudless, azurite-grey sky - yellow-gold, dawn sunlight playing high-contrast shadows across a near perfect blanket of freshly fallen snow - except for the trails left by high-volume nocturnal traffic close to the forest edge - which could have something to do with the carrots, corn, celery, and potatoes i left yesterday ...
and the branches of the trees, with the absence of any breeze make the forest look like a photograph - having been out already, even the westerlies don't seem to prevail - it must be God's day off - or maybe He's gone to the super bowl - or trying to get far enough away from it to avoid working overtime ... i stopped trying to guess what's in the mind of God a long time ago - but we do jest and test ...
yesterday's archetypal weather panic is gone as well - obviously a day to savor the beauty - so i'll start with a triple espresso, a Marlboro, and the Sunday NY Times - paint can wait for a little while ...

the coffee kicked in hours ago and i've been going about the business of art with due-diligence most of the day - with a few minor distractions - a pleasant one being a visit from long-time friend and fellow band mate [Absentee Ensemble]; the writer - Rick Dee ...
on many levels, we 'get' each other - he loves NYC - has a condo on the upper west side for most of his adult life - but his creative side always finds its way back to the countryside of PA where there's less distraction and the kind of beauty that feeds his soul - he too, is a minor casualty of Bush economics, corporate down-sizing, and middle-age disposability - too young for rank and file tenure, and too old to be coerced into pouring blood for low wages - and though he still has his condo, he's been edged into subletting; living in PA, and commuting to Jersey for gainful employment while periodically escaping to 'the city' for his urban fix - but it all seems to roll off him with a stoic acceptance comparable to that of a Benedictine Monk, or at least an artist hell-bent on avoiding diversions ...

i sometimes get the point of things the wrong way around - like when friends say they've appreciated the regularity of my journaling, or they didn't know i was 'that involved' with photography, or that i can write more coherently than i sometimes speak - to which i respond, "i've always done that" - and i have, with growing boxes of journals, sketches, and photographs that have followed me for decades - then i have to wonder 'what the hell took them so long to get it' - until i recognize what's different ...
the right tool for the right job at the right time - something my father used to try to instill in me - but it's true; over the year i got a new MacBook, a digital slr camera, a compact movie camera, and actually took the time to learn them - which must be getting easier, because the encyclopedic manuals are getting smaller - but that's it - i'm plugged into the 21st century, and i like it ...
but there's some things i can't or don't want to change [and they may find their way here] - like writing long-hand with a pen on paper - with sketches - the smell of paper, and the sound of the pen chicken-scratching through ideas, and all the thoughts conjured while doing it; like the memories of my grandmother and mother encouraging me to practice penmanship at the kitchen table to avoid getting smacked on the knuckles with a ruler by the Nuns, while they cooked dinner on a Sunday afternoon and had animated Lithuanian discussions - or trying to get the sound of the pen to mimic their phonetics while maintaining legibility - or recalling my first art teacher's [and my] satisfaction when the connect was made between what i saw and the way my pen moved to prove it - so far, the pen remains much mightier than any device Steve Jobs has come up with - but i am learning the tools of today's trade ...

so much used to be done for approval - from family, to friends and peers, clients, etc. - but as my discussion with Rick went today - we do what we do because we have to - for the love of it - and like i said to him - whether it sells or not, i'm like the fireman sitting on the chair outside the volunteer fire station - i show up every day because you never know ...
literacy in america concerns me, but i'm sure those fears will fade if i tune in to the 'big' game tonight ...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

labyrinths ...


what a wimp ...
yes, the snow, or blizzard, or inconvenience is beautiful from my drafting room window - and its warm and cozy indoors, and there's plenty of provisions, paint, work to do, some unheard cd's, books, magazines - but i shudder to think of facing the elements and shoveling out the vehicles or a path to the mailbox - and to think 'untold ancestors staked their genes on me' ...
a hearty people from Lithuania, Austria, northern, and eastern Europe - where this would be considered a mild day ...

i remember as a kid, spending hours outside on days like today, building forts and complex networks of tunnels - which i'm sure my parents saw as tell-tale signs of problems to come -
but it was fun - until being introduced to civility and self interest where most things simply become a distraction from personal ambitions ...
so today, i'm going to take my cues from Eve [the most wonderfullest terrier in the entire known universe], and tail-wag my way outside for a while to recapture some of those ancestral vibes - or try ...

got to remember - 'it ain't the heat, it's the humidity' - or something like that ...

"that wasn't so bad" - [as Rocky said when Clubber Lang(aka Mr.T) was pulverizing him] - until i had to lean into a 30 mph wind while shoveling the drive - i fear my face is frozen to a grimace - even Eve had one of those quizzical, 'what are you nuts?' looks, like other species often do - and in a forest usually teaming with wildlife, it was void of activity except for the creaking of trees from a frigid, arctic blast - but hey, it was exhilarating - [thank you ancestors] - and as i thaw i can feel a smile through chapped skin and joy bubbling when i pass by 'logos' ...
time for paint ...

logos in progress ...

not pousette dart ...














dawn on the art farm ...

Friday, February 5, 2010

zone systems ...











i know i'm not light deprived - at least not sunlight [had that test years ago] - and though i love the neutrality of grey days like today - i'm starting to have those longings for the light and color and warmth of spring ...
all this being said on the eve of what promises to be a snowy weekend here in the northeast - and once it comes, it will be beautiful - but for now, just a little left of neutral and heart-broken for the hardships of some family and friends - including a lady friend, a tortured soul who committed suicide yesterday - obviously confronted with something bleaker than grey ...

made some advances on "logos" over the past two days, and what i'm enjoying about the shift in approach is the challenge it brings - dialogues with a canvas throughout the day - night, and well into dreamland - it woke me this morning about 4:30 needing brushes with quinacridone gold and orange - i accommodated - she dried - and by then it was too perplexing to look for sleep again - but that's what raising a painting is all about ...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

free-floating serenity ...









time and time again, when i'm not doing something creative, i have to remind myself to stay in the moment - call the next play - do the next 'right thing' - and don't assume the future ...
that's why i mentioned previously that i need to spend a little more time meditating - it focuses the mind on the present and carries positive residuals throughout the day - in the 'perfect world' ...
i've got this tendency to create uneasiness by not putting one foot in front of the other - and of course, i get tripped up and feel off balance - you can only be where you are ...
could also have something to do with not sleeping well, certain financial and domicile uncertainties, and family members being in poorer health than myself without clear prognosis - a lot of stuff to cause a lack of sure-footed-ness - if i stray ...
stay on point - time to paint, file, and muse'ic ... later ...

day flew by - been happening a lot lately - ?
got an email from the writer, Joel Weishaus - an old friend from the New Mexico days - a monthly thing, without fail - the next five texts and images from his "Gateless Gate" series - always a fascinating and heady read - his research is impeccable and the way he sculpts ideas always fires the imagination - take a look, please!
speaking of sculpting - a Giacometti went for 105 million today - a few dollars of which he could have probably used while he was alive - but then again, can't we all ...
and speaking of surrealism - with this Lymes, my energy vanishes around 2 or 3 each day which requires a cat-nap - after waking, i'm in a stupor or half-sleep, as Breton called it, till about 7 - which makes late afternoons pretty serene ...
worked on "logos", but not much to show today ...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

bamboo, phthalo green, blue ...




good day - snow, paint, more paint ...
i'm pleased to announce that Palgrave Publishers is going to use my work on the cover of a new book by Dr. Gillian Howie entitled: "Between Feminism and Materialism" - isn't the first time, but they'll be featuring the work more prominently - also Malibu Complete, a web page featuring Malibu, Ca - linked my music/slide show: "Zuma" to their page ...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

outsider, part one ...



it was only a few decades ago that the pulse of what was going on in the ‘art world’ was marked by seasonal trends in New York’s Soho - grand-slam, celebrity artists - Minimalism, Earthworks, Neo-Expressionism, Graffiti, Neo Geo - Serra, Schnabel, Salle, Kiefer, Scharf, Haring - off West Broadway, and off-off West Broadway, [Tribeca, Alphabet City, Times Square, Union Square, Noho, and Chelsea] etc.


the continuity of European Art History was revived and proliferated in New York after the art centers’ displacement during WWII - infused with new talent, discourse, media, and new money - it flourished and became not only the harbinger of intellectual and cultural change, but more importantly for America at that time, [with her predisposition for capitalism and grandiosity] - it became the repository for an over-productive liberal arts educational system that continued to lower standards for its’ own survival, and became a barometer for real estate development speculators interested in high-yield revitalization of America’s urban blight ... just follow the art ...


the Art Center flourished and reproduced itself faster than a super virus; migrating and adapting to every nuance of its host’s environment with the eventual result being ‘pluralism’ - a terminal diagnosis describing the entropy of unfocused, and unprincipled over-indulgence resulting in banal gentrification of a tradition of ideals in the Arts - grass-roots art meccas popped up everywhere under the guise of co-ops and 501 C3’s, providing culturing for everyone - and soon it became difficult to determine where the center was and what was the prevailing urgency ...

or as Yeats describes; “things fall apart; the centre can not hold”...

until of course, the advent of the personal computer; which coagulated narcissism in the form of worldwide entanglements that provided immediate gratifications and de-personalized socialization - and then, personal domains based on branding and misinformation rather than substance ...

soon, everyone was an artist or celebrity of some sort ...

the next ‘big thing’ could be found anywhere - everywhere, and the only necessary validation was repetition, sales, and exposure comparable to the numbers advertised on fast food marquis’


and what would once require the squandering of trust funds, inheritances, and government entitlement programs for involvement in the ‘art centers’, could now be accomplished with pre-packaged, media savvy, product development and placement for global consumption or targeted audiences ...


but wait a minute, there seem to be more ‘artists’ [and lawyers] now, than ever existed in the history of the world - at least by art historical records - could it be that we’re actually living in an unprecedented period of world-wide cultural enlightenment or did we miscalculate every brick layers genius and significance in the building of the pyramids ...


woops, back up to pre-pluralism - and the art dealing ‘authorities’ with their newly acquired art history - or even law degrees, who were able to fast-track careers with v.i.p. perks to an unsuspecting, and previously disenfranchised pool of investors with all the finesse and expertise of junk-bond brokers - and let us not to forget the attractive young interns of upwardly mobile fortune 500 companies who made off with client and mailing lists to lay the foundations for their own house of cards with newly graduated Ivy League artists who probably attended some of the same frat parties as the soon-to-be president, G.W.Bush ...


ahhh - these are the days that Andy Warhol dreamed of while marketing his career change from Madison Avenue advertiser to Main Street’s resurrection of art savior to all - the transfiguration from Bergdorf & Goodman to Walmart ... from Da Vinci and the ideals he propagated to Jeff Koons’ inflatables ...

theses are the good old days, but you have to wonder - where have all the 'real artists' gone, the art, the music - could the continuity of centuries of tradition and ideals become so diluted by manufactured inventions in fifty years that we’ve stopped looking for art, or are we still too dependent on where Madison Avenue directs our attention ...

it’s so un-cool to not tolerate banality - or search for the good in it ...

i think this is about to become a series of off-the-cuff entries that addresses some distresses amid the arts ...


p.s. I wrote this after reading a short article on Dr. Albert Barnes, inventor and art collector from PA - years ago i met one of his associates who told me about one of his 'art quest' trips to Paris before WWII ...

he visited Giacometti's studio and discussed some of the work being produced by other artists, who seemed to be impressed with a fellow name Soutine - but no one knew how to find him - eventually, after days of inquiry Dr. Barnes located the artist and purchased some of his paintings - the artist packed the paintings, took the profits, bought a fur coat for his girlfriend, and took a cab to Provence ... the rest is history ...

Monday, February 1, 2010

viola, primrose, and amethyst ...




beyond having to face a new cycle of bills, the new month brings another opportunity to apply what we've learned to a new set of opportunities - appropriate that 'ground hog day' would occur this month, but i've got to add - i have never seen one in February - never!

'februum' is old Latin for purification - and we're lucky February survived the final edit of roman calenders - they almost ignored it as a winter month that didn't matter ...
i dig it because, like November, it's transitional and often unpredictable - and it's my natal month with Pisces rising around the 18th - so viola, primrose, and amethyst for all ...
[now that sounds like a great palette] ... 7 a.m. and time to paint ...

back again at 5 p.m. - tedium and annoyance augmented by blasts of creative excitement is the best way to describe the day so far ...
i've been laying down some final glazes on large pieces in progress - finishing and detail work, which isn't the most exciting - and noticing, that when i'm working the 'fair weather studio' outside, less monotony occurs because there's plenty of room to keep everything flowing -
inside, i'm feeling cramped - afraid of splashing, bumping into things, waiting for the heating maintenance man to show up three hours late with no phone call after i rushed through morning traffic to buy some basic materials; trying to register a copyright on u.s. dot gov whose system seems to be overloaded, but they'll address any concerns i might have in two to three business days; the neighbor's beagle choir is unrelenting, waiting for call-backs that don't seem to happen, and the dj on Sirius Jazz seems to be schizophrenic or finds it's his only outlet to express his individuality at my expense - come on, bobby mcferrin scat singing after miles' "all blue" - where's the continuity ...

then i paint - and it's like none of it happened or matters - self-leveling for sure ...
dusk was as pretty as dawn - Pisces' colors found their way into 'logos', and i've got an idea for a piece of music - and at this point i'm tired enough to welcome the perfunctory tasks ...
it's all good ...