Schlepping and Hanging

So the other day, I borrowed my brother’s piano moving truck to haul a bunch of big paintings 50 miles to the town of Morrisville, Vermont where they will grace the walls of the River Arts Gallery for the next couple of months. This is the pain in the butt part of art making, but at least I got a lot of help, unlike the part when I am actually doing the painting. You can see that the truck is pretty full. I think that there are over 30 paintings in there.

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Here are some of the paintings already in place, but not straightened out yet. This picture makes it look a little less chaotic than it was. But really, it went pretty smoothly

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Three excellent helper, Caroline, Marie and John are trying to make four subway paintings hang together in the same space and look good. They succeeded - hats off to them.

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And my hero Sid with his ever ready measuring tape, that he never leaves home without, finds a way to squeeze two more paintings in under the exit sign. That painting on the left is of me and my three sisters somewhere on a beach in about 1952.

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This little homage to cuteness is ready to be hung in the entrance hall of the gallery. I hope to lure the viewers in with some charm before they go up the stairs to the pictures of lonely people in subways and a world in peril. Which makes me wonder - what is the point of art? To sooth and please with pretty pictures or to shock and educate with blatant messaging? I want to do it all.

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The show is at River Arts - 74 Pleasant St, Morrisville, VT. It runs from May 1 through July 9. There will be a reception on May 23 from 5 - 7 pm. The artist (me) will speak.

A. A. Milne, Hedda Hopper and Robert Frank. April 27, 2019

What have a turn of the twentieth century poet, a 1940’s gossip columnist and a Swiss/American photographer got to do with me? They took their turns as muses for me so that I could make one of my first social realist paintings.

They Passed With Noses In The Air - oil on canvas - 34”x30” - 2008 (maybe)

They Passed With Noses In The Air - oil on canvas - 34”x30” - 2008 (maybe)

I wanted to illustrate the callous indifference many of people to the plight of others, but my source for the title of this painting is the “feel good” poem by A.A. Milne, “King John’s Christmas”. This has to be my favorite poem. It always has been since my father used to read from a book to us kids every night after dinner. It was mostly English literature with a lot of Mark Twain as well.

King John was not a good man —
He had his little ways.
And sometimes no one spoke to him
For days and days and days.
And men who came across him,
When walking in the town,
Gave him a supercilious stare,
Or passed with noses in the air —
And bad King John stood dumbly there,
Blushing beneath his crown.

There is a lot more to this poem. Look it up. King John’s Christmas by A.A. Milne.

So, being a painter without ready access to live models who can hold action poses, (no model can hold an action pose. they can only just sit there) I have long been trolling books, magazines, the internet and any other source for usable images. In this painting, the woman is Hedda Hopper, who was a hugely popular, right wing, conservative gossip columnist fro the forties - before my time, really. And the man appeared in “The Americans” - a book of photographs by Robert Frank, published in 1958. I like the work of Robert Frank a lot, but I don’t particularly like either of these characters, even though they were fun to paint.

I didn’t think of the title and then begin to search for images to collage into this painting. I found the photos and thought “these people need to be in a painting together, and I already know the title”. I think that this is a pretty good argument for the importance reading to your kids.

The photo of Hedda is by Alfred Eisenstadt. Thanks to him and to Robert Frank. I don’t know who the people on the reviewing platform are.

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Adventures in a clay mine

April 26, 2019

Where I grew up on the edge of the suburbs south of Chicago, the developed town ended a couple of blocks from my house and there began a wonderland for kids. This is where, in my eight year old eyes, adventure began. An expanse of brushy wasteland stretched out, bisected by a freight train line. These were the days when kids could roam the neighborhood at will and I did. I would venture out across that field, crawl into a culvert underneath the railroad track to feel the thrill of the steam train rumbling overhead. Farther on was the forbidden zone - a clay mine attach to a brick factory. It was huge - huge enough to have its own railway with tram cars to haul the clay up. And the walls were steep - almost vertical on our side.But I remember finding a way, by myself to scramble down into that pit, gather a few chunks of the yellow clay and then claw my way up again, wondering all the time if this might be my last day on earth, or if my mother would find out. She must have known though, because I brought the clay home and made little objects out of it - pinch pots and little animals. There was no opportunity to fire them in a kiln. They dried in the sun and then dissolved in the rain.

These were my earliest forays into the wild and into art. The clay pits have been filled in. But I am still making art - first as a ceramicist, then as a sculptor and now, at last as a painter.

Here is a picture of the clay mine and one of the young artist. Ok, I painted the selfie recently, based on an old school photo

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