Saturday, March 30, 2013

delost is defined

"Looking, making, thinking, experiencing are our starting point. Art opens worlds, lets us see invisible things, creates new models for thinking, engages in cryptic rituals in public, invents cosmologies, explores consciousness, makes mental maps and taxonomies others can see, and isn’t only something to look at but is something that does things and sometimes makes the mysterious magic of the world palpable. Proust wrote, 'Narrating events is like introducing people to opera via the libretto only.' Instead, he said, one should “endeavor to distinguish between the differing music of each successive day.” That’s what we do when we look at art, wherever we look at it, however much noise surrounds it."

--Jerry Saltz (from his recent, accurate analysis of the current 'art world'- but what a fine definition of art this is, in itself.) Here's the link to the article.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

color theory part 1

An email, one line: "What color are stars?" It was almost midnight. I thought for a moment.

stars are the color of ice and the color of air
of the space in my arms when no one is there
they're the color of fire, burning up
or pinholes of light in a dark paper cup
they're the color of water reflecting the moon
and the hot blazing light of a long afternoon
they're the color of sleep when I'm closing my eyes
like ten thousand snowflakes in ten thousand skies

Sunday, March 24, 2013

here comes trouble

I just played this game of Trouble with my young nephews. This board is the same one that was in our playroom when I was a kid-- it's dated 1975; the 80s were my playroom era-- and a thousand pops later, it still works and has all its pieces. The plastic bubble is dingy and uncleanable, but pops with the same alacrity it always did. Sometimes it's not just some random vintage object that gets me excited-- it's a piece to which I connect specific tactile memories, and I guess this was one.

And the cookies? Not really a connection here, except that cute chicks can create their own kind of trouble.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

pop up

It's a bit early to start talking about popsicles again, but I'm mentioning this project because someone recently asked about purchasing several of these popsicle paintings I made a few years ago for a Windows on Main installation in Beacon at Zora Dora's. They were for sale (at $12 a pop) and still are. I wrote to her, "Pick your flavors!" 
I had based most of them on the colors and flavors of whatever was in the case; I loved the popsicle palette. I am very much looking forward to the shop's reopening-- the owner stops selling pops for the winter-- he uses seasonal fruits and unique ingredients to craft them. 
This was my modest tribute, 2 dozen pieces, all 6"x6" acrylic on wood. 

Last spring I made this painting below of four pops in a row. Every year I am inspired anew, the same way that I annually find myself painting a daffodil or a pansy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


A question I am occasionally asked: "How long did it take you to do that painting/drawing?" or the more general, "How long does it take you to do something like that?" I've observed that this is never posed by another artist, but a person who does something else altogether for a living. Unless it's another artist asking specifically about a technique or material that we both use, which is more like shop talk.
As with other questions in the same vein, the patience of my reply depends on their tone and delivery. I can never come up with a simple answer. I'm guessing hardly anyone could. I might work on several pieces at once, or have to do other things that interrupt or slow my progress. Certainly there are some pictures that I sit down and work on for six hours straight, making it possible to calculate. However, making a work is not just when the brush hits the paper/canvas, but everything that comes before- initially finding, seeing (or imagining) the subject, then working out the composition and so forth. I might stare at a drawing or photo for years before using it, or rework something over months.
I wonder what printmakers and photographers say- making a print could take only an hour, but the preparation takes days or weeks. Or my friend who makes ceramics- she throws a kiln-load of pots at a time, dries & fires them, meticulously glazes and fires again- how does she say how long a piece takes? It can open up an absorbing discussion, but doesn't exactly lend itself to an easy reply.
Yet, when pricing art, we try to use this information to decide what we want or need to get for each hour of work- putting it into more conventional job terms.
The related question is, of course, "How do you figure out what to charge?" What is your time worth? The questions spiral. Did your time start when you were born? Your time in school, or working for someone in your field, and what about the time you spent in art-supply stores and in museums? Can you quantify it? I know some artists do. I try, to an extent. Wait, but if I loved doing it, was it really 'work', or a so-called labor of love, so how do you price that out? I don't mind the curious & pleasantly-posed questions, as long as people don't mind the long musings. I can also offer a brief  "Ummm... ten or twenty hours?" my voice rising at the end, as if it's anybody's guess.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


13 of my paintings are on the walls this month at the Riverview, a very nice restaurant in Cold Spring. They are mostly from the past few years; nothing brand new, but I was just referred to the owner by a mutual friend and the paintings were ready to hang. Interested people can contact me directly. It is good exposure and a chance to see the work in another context, for example, I liked the Casa Grande painting of the dusty bottles hung next to the bar, with its own shelves of gleaming glass bottles, and the Coca-Cola sign opposite. I was also finally able to show the 36"x36" Apple Branch, which doesn't quite "go" with my other work in the same way, but looked just right in the dining room. Now I want to go there to eat! Or at least get a drink. While I was writing this post, I got a great email from a local designer who liked the paintings, so we're off to a good start.

Truck stop dining.

Branch kind of floats since the canvas is nearly the same color as the wall.

Three places along this wall: NYC, Key West, New Mexico.

Take the train, have a Coke (or something stronger), stay at a motel

There really are more than 99 bottles on the wall.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

driven to subtraction

This photo had to be large, as the new painting itself is 30"x40", oil on canvas. I based it on a 2" collage which in turn was from a vacation map of the Poconos. I had pasted the image onto a wood block and just kept looking at it, wanting to go BIG, wanting to simultaneously reduce and expand the graphic image.
Various titles: Open Road; Red Car; Learning to Drive Backwards. It's all how you look at it. The painting is now in a show in Beacon called Home Coming, organized by the KuBe collective at 211 Fishkill Ave & open by appt through April 25. If possible, I'd like to see this work travel. In the meantime it may drive me to create more large paintings enlarged from tiny images- feels good to paint this way- gets me to clarify what the tiny picture doesn't show, making it at once simpler and more intricate. A story in three colors.

Monday, March 4, 2013

march forth

Looking back to last year at this time, when I had made it up to Montreal from VT (see this post for the oh-so-fun story) and wandered the city for a couple days, trying to read the French signs, finding my way to a couple of museums- I loved the Lyonel Feininger show at the Beaux-Arts- and some of the spots recommended to me by a friend. I tried poutine. I sat in a cafe full of chiming clocks and collectible cars, drinking Madagascar hot chocolate. I finished knitting my first hat. I stayed in a funky hostel by myself and, bundled against the cold, ventured out each wintry day along the slushy cobblestone streets.
By the end of the second full day, I wanted company, but I would settle for more self-indulgence, and I'd already dined at the bar of a cozy bistro the night before, where I ate and drank something delicious and paid who knows what. I was tired, cold, and uncertain about things. In my borrowed guidebook, I read about a Scandinavian spa in the the old part of Montreal, not far from the hostel.
First I had to re-park the car, so my visit was preceded by an anxious hour of driving around. Then I accidentally got on the expressway and had to navigate my way back, puzzling further over signs, and parked the car back in the same lot and paid who-knows-what again for the privilege. I decided the spa (something I'd never done) would be a treat to myself, since I hadn't bought anything else, even though of course the whole trip was a treat, as was Vermont. I had covered so much ground, I was worn out, all the walking, all those months of wood stacking, and the rest. I was primed.
The Scandinavian bath was very romantic, with dim lighting- the better for padding around in a bathing suit, I thought. There was a glowing whirlpool the size of a regular small pool with a hard cascade of water beating down on one side, under which one can sit and let it blast one's head, neck and back. Then a plunge into a dark, cold pool or a brief shower of cold water. Then a steam room and a Finnish sauna, alternating with cold-water dips and relaxing on long heated benches or large floor pillows. I did the cycle three times until the place closed, followed with a luxuriant shower and emerged into the night feeling warm and radiant and very mellow.
As I walked to my hostel, wrapped in my coat, tiny pinpoints of snow flecked my face. I stopped into a tiny store and bought a loaf of bread, a glass jar of Nutella and a bottle of orange juice. When I got back to the common room, I proceeded to consume numerous slices of toast, thickly slathered with the chocolate-hazelnut spread (which seemed more okay to eat in Montreal, for some reason). I couldn't explain why this seemed to so perfectly cap my experience, but it did, and a year later I still remember how good it felt.

Friday, March 1, 2013

show cone

Carvel Sign at Night (6"x6" oil on canvas), 2012
I have posted this painting before, but it's up today because... this is a more nicely-photographed image.. it's not easy to avoid glare on a glossy black surface; it follows my recently posted Carvel drawing on yellow paper that was in the show at Catalyst; and because it is currently in a Small Works show at the Woodstock Museum, up through this weekend.

Our work at Catalyst is now down and the new renter, Rob, is installing his show. Among several interesting vintage objects was an old wooden cash register. The idea is that, in the context of the gallery setting, the antiques on display- which are for sale- will command a fresh eye. I'll post photos of his installation soon.

Below is a Saul Steinberg cartoon which I've liked since I saw it on a New Yorker cover a few years ago. February often does feel like something deep and dreary to climb out of. This Feb was not so bad, perhaps because starting the gallery occupied time and thoughts, and lent an air of optimism and excitement to the weeks. Even during the past few Febs, come to think of it, I've managed to stay afloat. The winter drags on, but shifting my focus to new projects helps, as did being in VT last year. I was realizing that I don't even much mind the subdued, grey-toned winter palette, as many people eventually do (especially after 4 months of it). I like the colors, they're part of the earth's natural cycle- at least this part of the earth where I've always lived. And then there's that secret wiggly anticipation of the greening when it comes, the knowing that it will.