Wednesday, November 30, 2011

woodyard walk, gray day

Just a muddy walk in the woodyard yesterday with the dog (who kept dashing out of every photo, carrying improbably big pieces of kindling in her mouth), checking out the inventory (not really), getting caught in a drizzle and feeling how November-colored everything was. The browns and grays of leaves and mud with bits of color supplied by berries on branches, a random blue-painted pallet in the towering stack, a row of old oil drums, rust upon rust. Ashes to dust. You can see the boxes of freshly cut wood contrasting with the seasoned boxes slated for delivery in the next few months. Business as usual, but everything's different. I had one stacking job today as dusk fell, looking west across the river as I trundled across the grass, in the distance the orange stripe of setting sun beneath a heavy dark layer of gray.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

dad and me

Here is a picture of me and my dad from summer 2010. That's about all I can post for now. Soon I will feel like writing again. I want and need to, and he would encourage me to, but I can't seem to get my words together yet.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I have to say I wish there would be another decent gallery in Beacon again like there used to be. Instead there seem to be all these shops and cafes which are nice for sure, but the original reason they were able to get a foothold in Beacon is because of the revitalized arts scene which was first established with the Dia museum and then the galleries followed (and the antiques were really even before the art, and they have mostly left too), and then the quality galleries close because it is a difficult thing to sustain, paying rent on a space that doesn't reliably make money, or cause the owner(s) got disillusioned or were artists themselves and weren't able to do both or just decided to move on. I have had several conversations recently with different people on this subject, throwing ideas around re curating exhibitions in alternative spaces or even possibly renting a storefront space myself and using it as a gallery/studio, with the kind of art that people come here to see and are even able to buy, art for the people if you will. There is a wide spectrum of art and galleries, who they appeal to and how they are run, we have had some strong spaces here in the past, but in addition to those few which remain, there are some rather lackluster "galleries", either vanity galleries, or ones that hang a veritable hodgepodge, or show work that may be important to show but is inaccessible to the kind of people who come here to see fresh and interesting work in a town supposedly reinvigorated by art. It has been, in many ways, but I'd like to see it keep happening and I know a lot of people here now. Many make good art, some know how to curate a good show, and some have business sense and good ideas... and I am thinking of ways to bring this together. The problem is always that these people (including myself of course) don't have money to invest in such an uncertain venture. How does a gallery make money? Well there are ways. (Selling prints, small works, other objects.) This is why I've done the pop-up shops every year, the first one was more of (in my mind) an installation to brighten up a dreary storefront in a gray month where I could make things, feature the work of a few local artists, and bring people in. Having a fulltime gallery is a different matter, there are still affordable spaces, it's that I would have to settle back here and I am not sure what my plans are for the coming year. I like the idea in many ways but am reluctant to defer my hope to travel more, the way I deferred for so many years already. Also by 'fresh and interesting' I don't mean 'hip and edgy' or anything, just work by creative people who make stuff because they HAVE to create, who ARE artists and makers, not only those who say, you know what we need here, a place where you can get really good beer." Yeah I used to sit around with people and say, I wish there were somewhere cool for us to gather and talk at night, but now it's like everyone has the idea that they want to open a food/drink place. Now, I once considered opening a bakery because I like to bake and share with others, but my passion for it is not such that it would fuel the utter devotion it'd take to run, plus I would eat too much. Possibly a bakeshop/artspace amalgam, I do like this idea. I have been thinking about this stuff for a long time anyway but I realize, regarding the importance of art/thinking/absorbing/teaching/seeking versus food/drink/passively taking in experiences (although I think the other is also about taking in experiences, but it's the way you go about it. I really like sitting around with people and laughing and talking, but I get impatient sometimes) that the lasting vitality comes from the WORK. The most successful spaces in my nearly 5 years of living here demonstrate that. I'm wondering if there's a way to do it without getting disillusioned or bitter or bankrupt, I just have to get by, and I don't have any grand expectations or plans, I'm not even trying to change anyone's minds if they're not ready to be changed, but just to put something out there that I believe in, and can get some good help to make it happen. So to that end I have begun considering how.

Monday, November 14, 2011

thirteen verbs

(which aren't that super at all, but this word is one of my motifs and this new version is oil, 16"x20" white on white, and hopefully I'll be feeling it soon)

...that have occupied my time besides sleeping and hesitantly eating
1. stacking some wood, sometimes with a helper to pick up some of Stack's slack
2. knitting, only scarves so far, but I choose special yarn to make them all interesting
3. listening to the Big Broadcast on FUV, one of my favorite programs when I'm by a radio on a Sunday night
4. applying optimistically for a NYFA 2012 painting fellowship
5. reading in the bath and missing the mineral springs
6. buying an unlikely red dress for a nonexistent occasion
7. organizing my list of every painting I've done since 2001 & reflecting on each year of production/ progress (or lack thereof)
8. cutting back and dead-heading some plants
9. contributing two paintings to a current show at Mill St Loft's riverside gallery in Beacon
10. walking the road I grew up on and loving it as much as I ever did, during a quiet autumn afternoon
11. thinking about what a really crazy world we live in
12. wondering if anyone reads my blog now that I am living a prosaic life and not at a residency, checking my stats and wishing I hadn't
13. reasoning that it's about the practice of writing posts, not whether they are looked at, and recalling that I forget to look at blogs myself

Thursday, November 10, 2011

between naps

Still lying low and sleeping a lot, so I'm not up for much but realized that I did not yet post a photo (on this blog anyway) of this recently completed painting I'd started in June. It's 30"x30" oil on canvas, the window of the Casa Grande trading post and turquoise mining museum in Cerrillos. A lot of bottles.
The only other interesting thing I've made lately was a birthday cake for my dad, which came out homely but delicious, with a thin layer of orange marmalade between the dark-chocolate torte and its chocolate glaze. I did eat a slender slice of this, but otherwise have been cautious and birdlike in my eating, and lately reflecting upon my relationship to food. A stomach bug will do that, I've found. I am trying to see a positive side to this altogether unpleasant experience, possibly learning something about myself which will help in the future. That, and reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


floating leaves, oil, 12"x16"

this is the squash painting on masonite I finished last week, 8"x10"

Here are a couple seasonal paintings and here's hoping I am fully up and running again soon. No need to report further on this bellyache that's been keeping me under the weather. I've never had a stomach bug for this long, and my productivity has plummeted, both in terms of painting and wood-stacking. Not that anyone asked me, but this is really the worst time to get sick, when there is the most work for me to do. Well, maybe the worst time would have been in May or June when I was away happily art-making in new places and feeling vibrantly healthy. I usually AM vibrantly healthy, so I feel I have been undermined by whatever monster has taken up residence in my midsection.. but better days will be comin', I'm sure. Anxiety will do no good at all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

kanevsky admiration

This post falls under the category of painters who inspire and excite me.

I had not seen Alex Kanevsky's grass painting before I did mine in June, but I was just looking over his website today and saw it and it's like what I wanted to achieve, but didn't quite. It's amazing. I've liked his work for years, since a friend first showed it to me. This same friend just alerted me to a new Kanevsky show opening this week, and I'm looking forward to seeing that paint close up. I am trying to figure out how to loosen and open up my brushstrokes and paint application so I can get at that gesture, to me it's impressionistic in the truest sense of the word. Seemingly spontaneous, yet thoughtful, and also expressive. I was after the same idea with the apple branch. I started out loose and free but then closed in on it somehow when I didn't even plan to. Using an easel instead of hunching over on the floor did help me feel more expansive (or leaning my own grass painting up against the barn wall, with real grass brushing the edges of the canvas) and when I did let myself have at it, I thought I was really getting some of what I wanted.
I tried it again today with a small painting on masonite of some pumpkins and squash. It was too solid and dull, they were well-painted but it was like having your shoelaces tied too tight when you really want to go barefoot. I should have taken photos of the painting as I went along because I kept messing with it in ways that surprised me, covering up things I had spent a lot of time on, like some subtle shading. I will post a photo when it's finished. What I love about Kanevsky's work is the seemingly effortless way his brushstrokes converge on the canvas, out of which an image emerges. Within the stillness there is motion and life. Sometimes bordering on the edges of abstraction, the way your eyes would paint if they could hold a brush.
From a couple of online interviews with him, I excerpt the following.
"Painting is not something I do to a canvas. It is a form of conversation, and just like a conversation it can turn out exciting, boring, ugly, beautiful, enlightening. Like a conversation, it can have unexpected turns, sudden discoveries and hidden subtext and periods of silence. All this is what makes painting endlessly fascinating."
This is something I am starting to turn my thoughts to much more, lately. I know I can paint what I see before me, or what I see in a photo I took. I can generally envision how it will turn out. This approach still serves me, but I think I am also looking for a more honest and uncertain way to get at what I see. If it frustrates or eludes me, that means I'm scratching at something I haven't done before.
In answer to the question of what he would say to an artist just starting out:

Build up your self esteem to the level that might seem unwarranted. This will help you ignore both positive and negative responses to your paintings. Both are usually misguided, since they come from the outside. Be your most severe and devastating critic, while never doubting that you are the best thing since sliced bread.
The moment something works well and is under control - is the time to give it up and try something else.
Put all your eggs in one basket. Precarious situations produce intense results.
Forget subjective, it is mostly trivial. Go for the universal.