Sunday, December 31, 2023

Collage and a new year

                                           December Marsh watermedia collage 14x22 inches

                                                  High Pass watermedia collage 14x10 inches

                                                   Fissure watermedia collage 14x11 inches

 Though not a fan of celebrations that terrorize dogs, there is something touching about the hope and optimism of the new year. Again. A mere 12 months since the last yearning for true change this time. If we weren`t so ridiculous it might be sad. 
And another election year, oh boy.
I wish I had saved it. There was an editorial in the NYTimes that made the case that it had to be a rematch between Biden and Trump. The 45th president got 74,000,000 votes. He has to be vanquished once and for all. Biden is still the best guy to do it, just like four years ago. Even if he`s 80. He`s no ones first choice just like he wasn`t in 2020. I remember watching one of the early Democratic debates and Biden was mostly ignored and when he did respond it was like he had woke from a nap. Then the pandemic crashed upon the world, we saw with horror how Trump reacted to this catastrophe and nearly every person in the country with a functioning brain realized Biden was exactly the man to beat him. Because of his experience but mostly because of his decency. He overwhelmingly won the Texas and Massachusetts primaries on the same day. 
Anyway the op ed made the case that the country still had unfinished business. Will we fight to be a democracy or do we want to believe a con once again? The polls say Biden is in trouble but I`m not worried. I wish he would address the country on two issues. Everyone knows the rate of inflation is much better but it is still shocking to pay the new prices. They are not going down. He needs to assure the public that he understands how troubling this matter is and explain how it happened. How he tried so hard to keep the economy healthy during the pandemic, avoid a recession, and inflation was a by product of that effort. Yet it worked. The US has one of the strongest economies in the world right now. 
And I`d like him to explain to the country the difference between Republican and Democratic approaches to immigration. I follow public affairs and I don`t really know. To no ones surprise he is being demagogued to death on the issue by Republicans. Not much of what they say is based in reality but nonetheless the public needs to know where the Democratic party stands on this.

 Speaking of inflation, I know the local solution. Non-northwesterners bear with me a moment. 

Because I didn`t really understand how Winco Foods worked, I foolishly ignored it for years. Even after reading a profile of the company and learning it was employee owned. This past autumn a friend returned from overseas and needed a lot of food to replenish her home and mentioned she had spent a chunk of money there. I started asking questions and my curiosity was provoked. I`ve shopped there four times now, none of them under an hour and a half and without exaggeration, I estimate it`s about 40% cheaper than Safeway or Albertsons. I have yet to spend over $90. It is truly amazing. The bulk foods are a big part of it. I`ve never seen such variety. It`s almost overwhelming and definitely more time consuming bagging stuff up. Not much to look at and it`s busy with many different flavors of society. Purposeful women who understand value abound. Each one an excellent cook, I`d bet my life.

 Look familiar? I knew what it was but I had never tasted one. Winco had a huge display of Dragonfruit and each one was of perfect ripeness, you could tell. $3. So I bought one and it was a delicate treat contradicting its fierce name. The produce here is unlike any I`ve ever seen. They must contract with completely different farmers and brokers. Big bunch of cilantro is $.68. Have I convinced you? If I was young, I might try to work there. A cashier told me the pay and benefits were great. They are hiring.


 Another report for the locals. 

Because it`s winter and the weather too unpredictable, instead of hiking, I wanted to do something with my friends indoors. I had heard about a permanent 'art' installation that was interactive, colorful and cozy. My sister in law was sort of tongue tied in describing it when she returned and now I understand why. Hopscotch is a collection of rooms designed by individual artists with lots of computer driven visual effects that the viewer moves within. It reminded me of the 'light shows' the art club created during our junior high dances in the 60s. Psychedelic! The displays were interesting even if baffling in their intent. Yet as a social activity I think it was successful. Somehow seeing my lovely peers in flashing strobe lights was endearing. I had to be helped out of the trampoline 'environment' when I sank thigh deep into the surface. I`m getting a new knee in February and am not so flexible right now. The only exhibit that really felt like art was the the room of secrets. On entering you hear murmuring, overlapping voices. Three suspended domes hang from the ceiling. When standing under one of them you could hear a solitary voice speak one of their secrets. A soundproof booth to record the secrets was also part of the set up. Listening to the voices anonymously 'confess' was engaging. I could hear the restraint and relief in the voices. This is what I like about conceptual art, it makes me feel in unexpected ways. In the photo 3 above, my pal Kevin is entering a fuzzy dome as I am still getting my bearings. It was fun, not too expensive and a nice place to be with old friends.

                                                Baptism watermedia on Yupo 26 x 20 inches

 My painting is in transition, lots of disappointments. This came from my preoccupation with red and a less demanding attitude. I want my acrylic paints to act like oils. They refuse so I have to work within their limitations. This is reflexive with watercolor but I have trouble accepting the quirks of acrylic, particularly the lower pigment load. The beauty in gestural technique is lost if i have to repaint the movement.

                                                                           de Kooning

 I have been a devout student of the work of Willem de Kooning for decades. He`s been gone a long time now. Suddenly within the last year or two I am seeing work like this which is entirely new to me. How has this escaped my attention? My guess is the original collectors and their heirs have died and the paintings are coming onto the market where they are photographed and eventually I see them. This piece is so rich and stunning I was shocked when I first saw it. I`ve never seen red and orange together like that. The vigorous white areas set off the jewel like colors while the whole composition is tumbling. I would kill to see it live.

 The city of Palm Springs bought this oversize sculpture of Marilyn Monroe based on a famous still photo from her movie The Seven Year Itch by Billy Wilder. She offers shelter from the sun as well as the rain.

Happy New Year!

Click HERE for work in my studio for sale


Sunday, November 12, 2023

Travels, a Demo and a birthday

                                           Northwest Canyon watercolor on Yupo 26x20 inches

 This painting was once a long view of one of the Silver Creek Falls. It was acceptable but I didn`t want to look at it. Recently, I thought I would develop it further into something I could continue with as a collage. Except now I like it.

The day after the open studios I flew to NYC to see an old friend with some health challenges. I had bought my ticket thinking this can`t be delayed but before leaving we talked and I learned she was actually better than stable so I saw some different, also old friends, first. A solid week of nonstop talking ensued. I only took a duffle bag with the pants and shoes I was wearing. Being on a subway or train with a big suitcase is no fun. It was possible because it was still early autumn. The visits were so fun and so  satisfying it was as if we were all still young. My timing was perfect! I overthink everything but this time imagining the transportation, likely activities and selecting what to take as if I were backpacking was smart. I was stunned that I pulled it off.

 I always want to go to the botanical garden and it never disappoints. There was an art installation that involved over 400 black vulture sculptures integrated into the gardens and greenhouses. I never read a statement from the artist but I think I understood the 'warning'. They were amazing. I wasn`t visiting as a tourist  but when you fall into someones life in progress, you need to do something. So we had little excursions.

One was to the Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop sculpture installation by Lauren Halsey. Inspired by the Egyptian Temple of Dendur a couple of floors below, the artist incorporated portraits of her family and friends in this new 'temple'. The video of the project is well worth watching.

 Another was a trip to the Museum of Modern Art where a massive wall of moving digital images derived from the permanent collection greeted visitors in the lobby. It was mesmerizing. Responding to justified criticism, the museum now has works by women and foreign artists I`ve never heard of, everywhere! My head was spinning which maybe was the point in this abrupt adjustment.

Once home, John and I delivered 36 paintings to the White Bird Gallery and returned a few days later for the opening of my show in conjunction with the annual Stormy Weather Arts Festival. I did demonstrations Sat. and Sun.

A few friends were about which greatly helped my confidence

                                Stormy Weather 1 and 2 watermedia on Yupo 20x13 inches

Last weekend, the months of painting, the open studio meetings and the travel had all concluded. The next day I turned 70.
I don`t give my own birthdays much thought. I`ve felt that wanting them somehow special was for the kids. This one was different not that I had expectations but internally, this had my attention. Obviously now facing the [hopefully] distant exit, how would I respond? What did I want to change? What could change? Curating experience was important, trying to only do things that are meaningful. At long last I have some economic peace I can work from and try to help. There is a strong sense of a threshold that I`m crossing, even if just mentally. What does it mean to be an undeniable elder? Until we actually are, it seems like a looming condition best not to dwell on. It`s easy to see the freedom and release from younger concerns yet how to manage the emotions that arise from the physical limitations and setbacks and the loss of loved ones? I don`t know but I`ll take it a day at a time. Finally the true value of time itself is clear. My parents did everything they could to show me attitude was everything, I know this to be true. With my mind more or less intact, I will define this for myself and figure it out. Just like everyone else.

                                                             photo by Cameron Nelson

 Of course it`s on me to do the research but is it too much to ask of the press or local government to serve up factual information about eclipses?? Before they happen? I`m still upset that i did not know that to have the profound experience from a total eclipse, it has to be total. Like 100%, not 99% like it was at my house in 2017. I could have seen a once in a lifetime event by driving to my in-laws 35 miles away. When I learned the truth about an hour before the event, it was too late, the roads south were jammed. 
OK, then a month ago all of the sudden there is another one happening for Oregon but it`s not the 'night in the daytime' type it`s the annular kind which has a ring of visible sun around the shadow of the moon. Not nearly as cool but if we want to see it, too bad, storm clouds are likely. You need special goggles anyway. What is not mentioned is that those goggles can penetrate through the clouds and that cameras can too. So another spectacle of nature eludes me. Even in my shadowy driveway the light had changed dramatically. I appreciated that. 
A friend of a friend took the photo above.

As I understand the situation.

Believe me, I have no delusions about who reads my blog. I am not trying to influence anyone, but I want my own thoughts visible. Many writers claim they don`t know what they think until they start writing. In a small way that`s also true for me.

In the killing and chaos in 'Palestine' in the last month there has been a lot of international concern about the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Rightly so. If ever a people have suffered, they certainly have. War has limited but particular objectives with many innocent casualties. This is always the reality.

Israel is a democracy, the Gaza strip is not. Hamas was not elected, they violently seized power from the Palestinian Authority, the guys in charge on the West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu has been Prime Minister in Israel for a very long time. He is not a straight-shooter and his arrogance and dishonesty has weakened Israeli society. I don`t believe he thinks Palestinian self rule is possible or even desirable. Under his 'leadership' many illegal Israeli settlements have been built in the West Bank, It seems he believes Israel can take possession a little bit at a time. He has serious corruption charges against him that are pending. He has striven to stay in power and change the very nature of the judiciary to do so. He is distracted which is why the attack on Oct. 7 was so horrific. Israeli intelligence and technology was a massive failure that day. His political life is seemingly over, thank god. Much of the decay and deceit of the 'peace process' is directly on him and his right wing allies. In one tied election after another, he has been able to assemble a governing coalition by bringing in religious nut jobs into the government. I don`t think he can now ever win another election. He has done serious damage.

Hamas is a terrorist organization that has been in control of the Gaza strip. Funded by the ruthless Islamic fundamentalists ruling Iran. Being terrorists, Hamas launched a sneak attack on ordinary Israeli citizens. We all know what happened, the atrocities have been documented. Because they`re terrorists they located their headquarters undergroud under the largest hospital in Gaza City. The Palestinian people are their human shields. They have a vast network of tunnels that are only for Hamas to shelter in and launch raids on Israel. The needs of the Palestinians are the responsibility of the UN one of their leaders explained recently. Israel believes only the total destruction of these terrorists will protect their country. I would say good faith negotiations toward the two state solution is also in Israels interest.

As this affects the politics of my country, I want people to know who is who. Hostile statements and generalizations about Jews are completely unacceptable. Antisemitic beliefs are as repugnant as racism and must be condemned. One can care about the humanitarian crisis of the situation without hating Jews. Jews do not equal Israelis. The government of Israel is not the citizens of Israel even though elected. Hamas is not the Palestinian people, they are butchers who put the Palestinian people directly in harms way. Anti Islamic bigotry is equally wrong. Americans, including me, need a real education about Islam. It gets mingled with government in several countries to no ones benefit. Saudi Arabia is just as distasteful as Iran yet they are our 'allies'. I don`t understand the big picture. Fossil fuels are killing the planet yet we act as if those near eastern countries are indispensable.

                                                               Circle of Life by Moises Levy

 Paintings by Victor Higgins, an early modernist landscape painter in New Mexico. This guy is Beloved in NM and deservedly so. Using abstraction to strengthen his vision, he seems to get rather effortlessly the unique singularity of that landscape. New Mexico doesn`t look or feel like anywhere else. Arizona and Texas share long borders with it yet its cultures are distinctly different. There is a dreamy quality to it that is perceptible even when living there. Even with all the difficulty making a living there.

click HERE for work in my studio

Monday, October 30, 2023

Thank you!


 Two watercolors from New Mexico both over 30 years old now. You`re seeing them because I have no new completed work. I`m still in that promotional hyper-drive for a bit longer. First of all, thank you for the photos of your messy desks, I feel the solidarity! To the neurodivergent who sent me assurance, thank you! I don`t meet the criteria, as far as I can tell, for ADHD, but I sure can create a mess in doing almost anything. For a short time while we were in our thirties, I lived with my oldest brother Gary. He was tidy and clean and I felt like a dirt devil in his home, but I`ve learned to live with it.
You visitors to the first Lake Oswego Open Studios, thanks so much! It was a success beyond any of our hopes. We were correct, there were enough artists in our community and a population willing to support them. There were joyful encounters throughout the neighborhoods. In time I think the event will be a valued part of the cultural life of this town. 

 Here is my promotion; my show opens Saturday Nov.4 at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach Oregon. I`ve shown there for 38 years. This weekend opening is part of the towns Stormy Weather Festival which was created to encourage art lovers to visit at the beginning of the rainy season. It`s in the autumn that the coast has the wildest storms. The idea was to celebrate it and create a weekend full of fun, special events. I`m going to be giving short demonstrations of my painting techniques in watercolor on the plastic paper from Japan called Yupo.  1 pm on both days. Though public speaking is terrorizing, somehow I can paint and answer questions calmly. Come say hello. Ask me anything.

This is just a short post but I have a Public Service Announcement. While visiting my old buddy in New York, she tried to forward a recipe she liked from the New York Times. But it was blocked. My subscription to the Times does not include the food section or games. Now I pay $20 a month but they want more for my access to recipes. So I vent my frustration and mention what I pay every month. She says her subscription is $4.07 and includes everything. So now I`m angry but wait until I return home  before calling. I absolutely enjoy the digital newspaper so I wanted a back up before I threaten them with leaving.  I decide I`ll take the LA Times. I get a guy in a call center who immediately gives me everything for $4 a month, good for a year. I get credit for the last renewal they took from my bank account. When a year is up, he said just call back and make some noise and it will be extended again. Do all of these newspaper sites do this? Seems like a kind of theft. If you feel you`re paying too much for a digital subscription to anything, it may be worth your while to call them and negotiate a new rate.

click HERE for work in my studio for sale

Monday, October 2, 2023

Latest Paintings

                                      Water Wetlands Woods watercolor collage 13x35 inches

 I`ve been painting landscapes, preparing for my Open Studio and an exhibit at the White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach in November. Fully occupied yet all was not well within. I have been using oil paints for months and was really missing working on paper. A small window of opportunity appeared and I leapt. This began as just a painting but when I placed fragments of old works on top, it came alive quickly. I had such a good time and noted carefully those feelings. This 'technique' might be a bridge between representation and the abstract work I did during lockdown.

These are some of the new paintings on view during the Lake Oswego Open Studios [Oct. 14 and 15] and in November at the White Bird.

                                               Winter Slough oil on canvas 36x36 inches

                                                    Memory oil on canvas 16x16 inches

                                               Wetlands Morning oil on canvas 40x30 inches

                                           Coast Stream Morning oil on canvas 40x30 inches

                                   Cook`s Butte Study graphite watercolor on Yupo 12x12 inches

                                               Lagoon graphite watercolor on Yupo 12x12 inches

                                                                         my desk

 I`m really not looking to claim more neurosis than I already have but so many stories in the press revolve around ADHD and the complications it brings to peoples lives. Because a couple of them say clutter is a symptom I`ve tried to learn more. Even taking a test to self evaluate. I`m not restless by and large, I have no trouble listening to others and I complete my most important tasks. But I sure leave a wake of disorder. For the photo above, I just stood up and took it. It`s typically like this. When I had the 'practice' open studio for the other artists in Aug. I cleaned everything up. It takes no time at all to trash it.  I`ve learned to accept it without much embarrassment but is there something wrong with me?

                                                            cartoon by Bob Eckstein

This is my ultimate fear but save for cardboard boxes that I may very well need to ship paintings in, I`m a ruthless anti-hoarder. There will be thousands of works on paper but they don`t take up much space. John, however, has dead toys and electronics in all sorts of cubby holes he thinks I don`t notice.

                                                                Charles Bukowski

 Now that I`ve been sober, the poet Charles Bukowski is a hero to me.  Here`s what he has to say about cats;

 "Having many cats is good. If you feel bad, you look at the cats and you feel better, because they know that everything is just the way it is. You don`t have to be nervous about anything. And they know it. They are saviors. The more cats you have, the longer you will live. If you have a hundred cats, you will live ten times longer than if you had ten. One day, this will be known and people will have thousands of cats."

He was on to something!

                                                                       still the one

 Twentyfour years! When I entered into my first real relationship at 45, it was not a leap of faith, it was a sky dive. This younger guy was steady,  deflecting my anxiety and rookie mistakes. I am a lucky man!

  After the open studio I`m off to New York to see old friends! Yay!

                                                                           Rae Klein

Take some time and check out the website of Rae Klein. She is involved with myth in a psychological context. The work is absolutely strange yet affecting.

Come talk to me.
 Bonus: Leslie Peterson Sapp will also be showing with me. This is her first foray into open studios and she will have a variety of work. She`s maybe best known for her paintings based on film noir. She will have some new stuff too involving Archeology. She just returned from France where she toured the prehistoric caves with all those amazing paintings. Knocked her out. She will be fun, guaranteed.

5373 Lakeview Blvd
Lake Oswego OR

Oct. 14 and 15, 10-5pm

Click HERE for some work for sale in my studio