Tuesday, April 29, 2008


THE ANNUAL 52 O STREET Open Studios event was a riveting success for the building. if not specifically in terms of sales for some of us. However, the electric energy and upbeat response both days from the visiting public of record turnout was shared by all.

Commented one artist in the building just this morning, "I am still so jazzed about the turnout and having so many new faces in my studio. I am grateful for the new interest in my work, compliments of your friends and collectors. There was a general feeling from the visitors that 'O' Street is a happening place. I couldn't agree more."

I was initially thrilled by the response to my own work, having sold a few smaller prints and tiny paintings, and was inspired by the idea that I had finally found comfort among the breeds and was no longer working against the winds that were always changing. One of my six large drawings on paper from 1984 elicited lots of positive attention. More smaller pieces from that same period were lauded far beyond any expectations of the day when they were created. Several larger canvases are still potential sales.

But it seems I have created somewhat of a scandal with a recently completed large piece. I now realize I must step back, and bring my theories of both art in general and those influencing my own work into clear focus. And I must also revisit an earlier idea of mine. Since we have inherited the observation that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the art consumer, dealer, and critic all seem to require in this DIY Age that the artist nee businessman must dance to a requisite tune, while weaving a charming story for their entertainment and edification, I feel the composition might as well be politely considered, committed to media and presented in a fine light persuasive to the work. So be it. By the will of the people, I will tighten up my affairs before I again open myself up to whatever the world seems fit to do with me.

My populist notions have seen better days. So now is not the time to return to half-measures. I have a few thoughts I'm just itching to implement.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


THANKS CHAR—actually our event continues today, but I understand.

Yesterday was a smashing success. Quite a few "big money" collectors were in the building, in the words of my mentor here. In fact, one of my several large "magic marker" drawings from the 1984 captured gratifying purchase talk from several "serious" collectors, but I had to delay any sale simply because I had not expected to sell the drawing which I have only recently had glue-mounted after years of being folded up in a box, and I needed to confer with that mentor for suitable pricing. It may actually fetch $3500-$5000. Amazing. Or it could just be another near miss, but by the end of the shift it was one long blitzkrieg of anxiety and exhileration.

52 O Street Studios is well-known in the DC art scene, so the annual open studios event does draw respectively well for a transitional location. Today should be a formidable encore.

And yes, I do occasionally mount a grudge against the powers. I mean, after all, ART is a contact sport, and when's the last time the art scene has been full body tackled, scenewashed, and then hung out to dry for its own good?

Oh, and thanks so much for the latest "rock" necklace. I'm wearing it today for the first time. My "public" is forcing me to "rock harder" so I suppose I might as well dress even more the part. Trust all is well with your own health and business. Give our love to Skip.

(Since he was so kind as to give us his flu back in March! Ha!)

Cheers and rising circumstances,


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


L-R: Dana Ellyn, Matt Sesow, Chris Schott, Gary Gill, Sue Hedrick

SOME NOTIONS OF ART are strategic impulses which create a snapshot of reality seen through keen eyes, others seek to depict a healthy disregard of reality viewed through a lens of distorting fantasy. The key to understanding a work of art is understanding which of these two strategic impulses best satisfy the work. All the rest in window dressing.
—Gabriel Thy

"Still, I've had my reservations. Not so much on the eventual outcome, but rather the timing of it all. In Lin's last show, I saw too much centered and seemingly static work that didn't quite get up and dance for me. Shafts of brilliance are mixed with moments of weakness, as befits the process of artistic growth. At 29, Lin's best work is most assuredly ahead of her."

Artist and critic Kevin Mellema wrote the paragraph excerpted above in his essay for the Falls Church News-Press. Because this is a criticism I often level at my own work, I felt compelled to clip his words for my own present and future edification, even though my work, and the work of Amy Lin have absolutely nothing in common.

Additionally, from the Washington Post:

Amy Lin is infatuated with dots. "Hybrid," a colored-pencil drawing that's part of the artist's show, "Amy Lin: Silence," at Heineman Myers Contemporary Art, features almost 350 of the li'l devils, strewn across the paper in blue and green strings like strands of broken costume jewelry.

And that's just a medium-size work. At nine feet tall, one picture, titled "Persuasion," boasts—well, you count them; I started to get a headache when I tried.

That's all the 28-year-old artist draws. A couple of years ago, when she was first starting out, Lin says she got a lot of "questionable comments" from folks who just didn't get her chosen medium. Although her dot-based pictures can call to mind everything from microbes on a glass slide to Mardi Gras beads to an overhead shot of crowds milling on the Mall, they are almost stoic in their open-ended abstraction. So much so that her dealer, Zoe Heineman Myers, was discouraged by those closest to her from even giving the artist a solo show, Lin's first in a commercial gallery.

Such misgivings may be starting to fade with the appearance of another kind of dot around Lin's work these days: the little red ones traditionally used in galleries to show that a work has been sold. At press time, five of the 13 works on view had found buyers.

Eghads, the question of making and selling art in Washington, DC seems to have a simple answer. But I'll keep that secret under my hat for a time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Gallery HD and Illuminations Media are looking for two fearless, charismatic, passionate & Informed ARTISTS to take the definitive chutzpah road trip.

Two Artists (Art Racers) must cross the US in 40 days, surviving only on Art. Armed with art materials, cameras and a $1 dollar budget, the Artist/Art Racers must “trade” Art for food, shelter and other artworks.

Starting on opposite coasts (one in NYC and one in LA), the Art Racers’ odyssey culminates in a home-city exhibition of all the works they have created and collected along the way. The winner is the Art Racer who sells/trades the most artwork. Or at least the one who survives.

Looking for great communicators who interact well with all sorts of people and can make smart commentary as life happens. Intelligent, sassy and witty are good too. All participants must live in the New York or Los Angeles areas, be at least 21 years old and a US citizen or legal resident alien.

ART RACE shoots May 26–July 11 for appx 40 days on the road, plus up to 5 additional shoot days & voice over work. Each Art Racer will receive $25,000 US for participating.

Twenty years ago, maybe. Today, no way possible. Middle-agedness has its own set of perks.

Monday, April 21, 2008


The difficulties in your work may increase your present tendency to edginess, even to the blues. See to it that your problems do not bear on your home life. Force yourself to change your ideas. Make sure that your view of things is not tendentious. Distinct sensation of heaviness in your legs. In your work give precedence to flexibility and easiness, for you'll probably try too hard to achieve a gigantic project which you've been dreaming of since a long time, and some people will not see this with a good eye.

SO GOES TODAY'S Facebook Chinese astrology hint about the artistic struggles in my life. Frankly it reads almost as if I had made a keen diary entry in my private book of struggles, even to my load-bearing right knee which went lame about two days ago, and is giving me much pain, so much so I've decided not to enter studio today, but rather, spend time here on my laptop addressing a few persnickety theoretical issues in my own painting and those inherent problems in carving out a career in painting at this stage of the current Pop Renaissance movement. Allow me to explain:

Art as feckless retreat from industry that is no longer available. I do what I do. I am DADA II. Look around yourself. Prove to me you aren't DADA II as well, and have been for decades, if not generations...

All systems have been defined, fulfilled, and taken to the wood shed. Style is simply rote penmanship, but says nothing about the world unless the painter insists with theory and thumbnail that each mark is as meaningless and mundane as the one never imagined. It's time we understood the basics of ego, and applied that understanding in each of our conversations with the sputtering sand gnats of society, great and small. That includes those who talk only to themselves, begging confirmation at any cost. Please excuse me, I must now prepare my next box of carrier pigeons for their stool.

Okay, here is another queer statement oozing from the closet of my own strapping insinuations:

ART, IT IS SAID, RESIDES in the eye of the beholder. Clever critics may muse otherwise, but the ever diligent [conjugating] cogniscenti in fact, mostly fail to disprove this rather quaint truism. A work of art is also considered extremely personal to the artist himself. Even so, the seminal time-tested idea of creating the "compelling picture" regardless of subject matter, school of thought, or individual style is the driving force behind all genuine artistic motivation, whether that motivation be theoretically contrived or deemed naive by the tastemakers of the hour.

The articulation of a compelling "idea" or "emotion" is important but secondary since all art is subjective; in the general sense that the "picture" not prove interesting or compelling, then that idea or emotion is lost in a scenewash of indifference. Shifts in time and culture often betray the original significance of a work of art, and all that is left is a picture and the searing questions: is that picture compelling, or not? This is reality writ large. Conjecture and critical posturing, despite their obvious power, must of necessity, bow to the whims of the changing observer since compelling art usually outlives both its creator and its contemporary critics.

We are living in a dangerous, rapidly accelerating, greedy, image-saturated sub-atomic culture. There is no time left to paint paintings, write poems, or sing hymns to false idols. All of modern civilization cries out for redeeming action, even as the weary soul sighs, and prays for rest. Humanity has simultaneously witnessed too much, and remarkably nothing, at all. This political contradiction describes the artistic inertia of our heavy times, and informs my own artistic vision.

In short, one impetus to my work is a study in observing the observers. Another might simply be stated in Miro's terms of attaining the maximum intensity with the minimum of means. In many ways, I think Picasso's remark that his paintings are a pictoral diary of his own life, describes my own approach, especially in the more symbolic work.

Greatest influence: my own quivering brush hand and booby-trapped subconscious kicking and cajoling to make itself known.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


20th Century Sisters (left); 21st Century Sisters(right)

IN THE GREEK MYTHOLOGIES, the Moirai were known as the Fates, that is to say, the personification of the inescapable destiny of man. The Moirai assigned to every person his or her share in the scheme of things. Originally, only Zeus weighed out the "fate" of individuals. As the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and of the Pantheon of gods who resided there, he upheld law, justice and morals, and this made him the spiritual leader of both gods and men.

Later there were two Fates, one at either pole of a person's life. Finally, the familiar trio of Fates came to be accepted, each with a specific function, although different traditions have tended to blur the talents and chores of these three fates. But for our purposes, let's work with this synopsis:

The three Moirai were Klotho, Atropos, and Lachesis. They were variously called the daughters of Zeus, Nyx alone, Erebus and Nyx, Kronus and Nyx, Oceanus and Gaea, or Ananke (Necessity) alone. Depending on the identity of their parents, they were variously called sisters of the Horai, the Keres, or Erinyes.

They were described sometimes as aged and formidable women, often lame to indicate the slow march of fate. Klotho, the youngest of the three sisters, spun the thread at the begining of one's life.

And Lachesis, the middle sister, snipped the thread at the conclusion of one's life. She was the apportioner, deciding how much time for life was to be allowed for each person or being. She measured the thread of life with her rod. She is also said to choose a person's destiny after a thread was measured.. The process was absolutely unalterable, and gods as well as men and women had to submit to it.

The oldest sister, Atropos wove the thread into the fabric of one's actions, chose the mechanism of death and ended the life of each mortal by cutting their thread with her "abhorred shears."

As goddesses of fate, the Moirai necessarily knew the future and therefore were regarded as prophetic deities. Thus their ministers were all the soothsayers and oracles. Then as now the concept of predestination presented the usual paradoxes, since if from one's birth he or she was destined to commit a crime, then punishment for the crime, itself preordained, place good and evil beyond human control. Yet the Erinyes unfailingly fulfilled their function in a kind of obbligato to the inexorable hum of the spindle and thwack of the loom.

For all the claims made for the immutability of fate, there were a few questionable instances in which destinies appeared to be altered. Apollo induced the Moirai to grant Admetus delivery from death, if at the hour of his death his father, mother, or wife would die for him. Some said he made the Moirai drunk in order to accomplish this.

I have painted two versions of the Moirai. They are known to me as the Mundane Moirai who posture themselves, and merely threaten fate, but like all the Greek Gods and Goddesses have proven to be mere reflections of our own vanities, each according to his or her own works and politics where life is likewise defined in false terms. Here are the fates: an early 20th century depiction, and an early 21st century depiction. Oddly enough, there is very little difference between the two depictions, no strong old school follies to mock, no contemporary embarrassments to duck, just a hundred years, or should I say, nearly a mere 144 minutes of Godtime frittered away by the Fates. Go ahead, do the math. If a thousand years is like a single day to God, then a hundred years is 144 minutes. Hmm, where have I seen that number before?


A common breakfast among commuters, bagels stand alone as the only bread that is boiled before it is baked, providing chewiness instead of brittle crumbs. Yeast dough is shaped into rings, allowed to rise, then briefly tossed into vigorously boiling water for a few seconds. Then it is baked, where the prior boiling creates a chewy texture. Those that like a bit of gloss on the crust can brush them with sugar water, the traditional method, or egg, a more modern method abhorred by purists.

The origin of the bagel is up for debate, although it seems to have early taken a foothold in Poland. The first printed mention occurs in Krakow, in 1610 in a list of community regulations that stipulate that bagels are to be given to pregnant women. (Interestingly, given the bagel's association as a 'Jewish' food, there is no mention of religion in this regulation-apparently Christian women ate bagels as well).

Others support the legend that the world's first bagel was produced in 1683 as a tribute to Jan Sobieski, King of Poland.

The king, a renowned horseman, had just saved the people of Austria from a massive attack by Turkish invaders. In gratitude, a local baker shaped yeast dough into the shape of stirrup to honor him and called it the Austrian word for stirrup, beugel. The roll soon became a hit throughout Eastern Europe. Over time, its shape evolved into a circle with a hole in the center and its named was converted to its modern form, bagel.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


TWENTY-FOUR ARTISTS, in one building, working in a wide range of media and styles open their studios for a rare glimpse into the process behind their art. This free event provides the visitor the opportunity to purchase artwork and meet the artists in a relaxed, inviting atmosphere. Occupying 28,000 square feet, over four floors, 52 O Street Studios is one of the largest and oldest buildings dedicated to the practice of Fine Arts in Washington, DC.

52 O Street Studios is located a short walk from Metro's New York Avenue Red Line stop, amidst the burgeoning North Capitol Street corridor. The artists working here are proud of this historic building, its idiosyncrasies, and the myriad of artists who have created here in the past.

Today, the building is occupied by painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, woodworkers, and video artists who seek to continue and advance the guiding principle behind its opening in 1979, "to create an affordable working space for artists in Washington DC."

This year's artists include:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008



SURE, IT'S JUST ANOTHER award ceremony, but surely they mean more to you than those you were battling as a kid (I'm thinking of the Tom Paine Award, an awkward event for everyone involved it seems). I hope so because you sure are winning lots of prizes these days. The Grammys come to mind. Now we've hearing that a 2008 Special Citation has been awarded to you by the Pultizer Prize Foundation for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.

So very true. Without changing gears, some of us survivors of the current phase of man will surely be breathing the air around Bob Dylan for a few hundred years, God willing. Still no word from the Nobel Committee, where Dylan was first nominated for the prize in literature in 1997. So let us pilfer and pillage through the ironies of time to get a beat on what's happening with this Nobel crowd.

While many music critics agree that Dylan is among the most profound songwriters in modern music, his repeated nomination for the Nobel Prize has raised a vexing question among literary authorities: Should song lyrics ever qualify for literature's most prestigious award? Christopher Ricks, co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University—and an avid Dylan fan who has written scholarly papers on the songwriter's work—said the question is "tricky."

"I don't think there's anybody that uses words better than he does," said Ricks, the author of highly regarded works of literary criticism such as "The Force of Poetry" and "Allusion to the Poets," as well as books on T.S. Eliot, Lord Alfred Tennyson and John Keats.

"But I think his is an art of a mixed medium," Ricks said. "I think the question would not be whether he deserves (the Nobel Prize) as an honor to his art. The question would be whether his art can be described as literature."

It definitely can, said Gordon Ball, an author and literature professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA— who has nominated Dylan every year since 1996. "Poetry and music are linked," Ball said. "And Dylan has helped strengthen that relationship, like the troubadours of old."

The Nobel Prize in literature is given out annually by the 18 lifetime members of the 218-year-old Swedish Academy. Candidates can be nominated by members of other literary academies and institutions, literature professors and Nobel laureates. Each year, the Swedish Academy receives about 350 nominations for about 200 different candidates, which is narrowed down to about five finalists. The winner is announced in October. The finalists, except for the winner, are not revealed for 50 years.

Ball said he first nominated Dylan after the writer Allen Ginsberg urged him to do so. Ginsberg, a Beat poet whose literary circle included Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, nominated Dylan in 1996. "Dylan is a major American bard and minstrel of the 20th century" who deserves the award for his "mighty and universal powers," Ginsberg wrote in his nomination letter, which Ball read to The Associated Press.

The literary value of Dylan's texts are also supported by The Norton Introduction to Literature, a textbook used in American high schools and universities, which includes the lyrics to Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." University of Virginia professor Alison Booth, who co-edited the anthology, said she doesn't "have any trouble at all considering (Dylan) for a literary interpretation."

"Literature has historically been defined very broadly," Booth said. "I don't think we're testing some radical limits of literature by putting that in." Several collections of Dylan's lyrics have also been published as books. Still, most Nobel watchers say it's unlikely the Swedish Academy—traditionally drawn to novelists and poets who are often out of the mainstream—will expand the scope of the prize to include songwriters.

"If so, it would be in a fit of marvelous free-mindedness," said Svante Weyler, head of one of Sweden's largest publishing houses, Norstedts. "It would be very surprising."

But not entirely unprecedented.

In 1997, the prize went to Italian playwright Dario Fo, whose works also need to be performed to be fully appreciated, some say. And when Winston Churchill received it in 1953, for his historical and biographical writings, the academy also cited his "brilliant oratory" skills.

While the academy never discusses individual candidates, Carola Hermelin at the academy's Nobel Library said songwriters are not excluded from the prize. "Song lyrics can be good poetry," she said. "It depends on their literary quality." But Weyler said he was skeptical about including songwriters. "Then you're categorizing everything that includes words as literature," he said. "Literature should not have to be read by the author for it to be good."

Well, as usual, Dylan himself, put it best: They can talk about me plenty when I'm gone.

Not only have I collected and burned into my psyche nearly every song he has ever sung over the course of my lifetime I count myself as one of the fortunate fans to own one of 900 signed and framed lithographs of Dylan's Self-Portrait, which was used as the cover of an album of the same name, seen here among my books, photographs, and other fine perishables celebrated by the flesh.