Of Love Apples and Gratitude 

The single most influential person in my life died today.
Tomorrow is my 55th birthday .
Thirty years ago , on my 25th birthday , this marvelous women came to my home overflowing with gifts as was her want . Fabulous, thoughtful, unconventional gifts . In this case , to celebrate my twenty fifth year , it was with tomatoes , masses of gloriously ripe orbs . All nestled in a 19th century Russian baking pan , golden copper a gleaming foil to their lustrous beauty . Nestled within the tomatoes was a knife . A strange knife , serrated and fancy looking . She explained to me that it was a tomato knife . I had never heard of such a thing but I was delighted .
I felt very rich that evening in the rather shabby ( yet charming ) rowhouse that I shared with her son Douglas in Trenton. Douglas was my great love and this woman was my hero . My love for both often felt entangled.
The tomatoes were of course devoured , the pan became part of the settlement Douglas and I decided upon when after nine years of loving one another , we no longer found ourselves able to continue . The pan was a family heirloom but I kept the knife . I use this knife nearly every day , it hasn’t changed just as my feelings for the giver haven’t faltered.
Everything she seemed to do , she did seemingly effortlessly with grace , taste and affection . It’s easy to have good taste , to put others at ease is such a rare gift .
And that is what she did , she listened , she laughed , she made what you said ( no matter how inane ) seem worthy of attention .
My background was Shitsville , my self esteem nonexistent and yet this patrician woman thought I had something worthwhile to say . She encouraged my art making by introducing me to a gallerist in Blue Hill Maine where the family summered . We would scour the junkyards in search of castaways to paint , refurbish and market . If she , with her discerning taste thought my work worthy , than perhaps it was .  
Her taste drew me in from the beginning . How she set a table , unpretentious yet elegant and inviting . How she decorated her many homes , she and her husband Bob collected homes like some folks collect stamps . Her art collection was impressive but she never boasted of its value as so many collectors do. For her it was the art ! Not the value of the art .
 She was an early patron of George Nakashima, Douglas’ boyhood home , a palatial pile was chockablock with raw edged wood. American craft , contemporary and traditional was her passion early on . And as she developed into middle age she acquired a masters in fine art , focusing upon the three dimensional , creating work that surprised and delighted me .
Many memories will be resurfacing in the next few days and weeks : how she introduced me to the beauty of the color orange ( her favorite color), of the poetry of rust , of Maine , of how to cook an incredible meal out of whatever was lingering in the cupboard , how to pile on jewelry and pull it off , how to ignore the clay under ones nails or the paint upon ones shirt and still be the most scintillating person at any party. How to engage with warmth and openness and stay true to yourself.
Her name was Sherell Jacobson .
Sleep well Shez. 

Of Faeries & Daemons

Detail from “The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego”
2017
Mixed media

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me, I’m trying now, not very successfully, to collect myself.  Between the move into a new space, multiple shows and now an inferno has set upon the City of Angels, I find myself quite discombobulated. Now that I have a semblance of internet (thank you Hotspot, whatever the hell that is), I feel less adrift.

 To procrastinate, I’m enclosing a few images from recent shows, “Satan’s Ball” at Art Share LA and more recently, this last weekend’s “Fairyland”, my solo show at Ave. 50 Gallery.

“The Wodewose”
2017
Mixed media
Image by Stephen Levey

A pleasant surprise was meeting the photographer Stephen Levey who took some excellent images of my work. I was quite delighted to see how he captured the moodiness of my figures. 

“Adam, the Minotaur”
2016
Mixed media
Image by Stephen Levey

I’ve tried for some time to capture my first “Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert”, Stephen, seemingly effortlessly, snapped a great image. 

‘The Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert”
2013
oil on canvas
36 by 48 inches
Image by Stephen Levey

The preparation for the opening of “Fairyland” was daunting, with packing up the old studio, moving into the new and all the details that go into a transfer from one place to another, I was rattled. Particularly grateful to Dan Fernandez who handled my installation expertly.

Mr. Fernandez

In the end it all came together and the opening was just splendid…hot as Hadesville , but splendid.

The artist with “Goblin Market”
The artist with “The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego”.
The artist with what matters most, his loving and supportive friends.

I was so touched by how many of my friends stopped in, in spite of a plethora of  competing openings, in spite of the gallery’s rather isolated situation and in spite of the terrible heat. In spite of that , the support was thrilling. Thank you my friends, friends I’ve known for awhile and to the new ones I’ve just met.

Art making is isolated work but it is the community one finds that encourages and delights. I’m pretty delighted at the moment…in spite of fierce Apollo.

With my dear friend Kristine Schomaker , founder of Shoebox PR; call her, really!

 

 

 

Final Post from Eagle Rock

Final days @ 1053 Colorado

As what had been a very delightful sanctuary becomes barren and littered with bubble wrap and pugs , I wanted to make one last post from my creative home of the last two years. Although eager to settle into larger digs, I will miss this place (particularly its excellent air-conditioning ). 

This is proving to be a busy moment in my life. The movers arrive this Saturday and that evening I have an opening , Satan’s Ball, a perennial favorite -I have five pieces in that show. I may be pooped after the move but looking forward to being part of the festivities at Art Share LA. Then my solo show Fairyland July 8th. Frantic, daunting, exciting.

I was delighted to be notified that my drawing The Rape of Our Mother had been accepted into the Brand 45 Annual National Exhibition of Works on Paper. I was particularly excited because the juror was Leslie Jones, Curator of Prints and Drawings at LACMA- my submissions were unmistakably drawings in that old fashioned way  and I having her validation was important to me.

“The Rape of Our Mother”
2016
colored pencil on paper

I had failed to mention that my painting Hadesville won 3rd Best of Exhibition at CEDARFEST 32, at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, CA.

I was beaming with a goofy grin.

3rd Best of Exhibition “for the artwork titled ‘Hadesville'”

The day after the award ceremony Facebook rather magically reminded me of what the painting looked like a year ago.

This “memory” popped up.

June 17, 2016
unfinished

And a year later:

Packing has produced some novel still lives that I am eager to figure into compositions for new paintings, this being the most successful :

Accidental Composition, June 27th 2017

I’m at the end of my packing , I receive the keys to the new studio tomorrow morning. Much more to do but very eager to get back to work, be it stitching, drawing or painting, perhaps a relief print of two as well.

Feeling rather festive and optimistic!

Bugger’s Baroque

My love of the baroque (and the subsequent revivals) is long standing, so much so that I built my previous career as a decorative painter identifying my craft as Neo-Baroque. As a studio painter I still find the allure of the baroque irresistible and in my latest work Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego , I attempted to capture the florid excess of the period.

The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego
2017
Mixed media: acrylic paint, recycled fabric, thread, feather , fiber-fill
50 by 32 by 6 inches

This work is an extension of my “stuffed painting” series which constitutes a large part of my latest body of work Fairyland. Ostensibly this latest piece is a  reflection upon such cheery topics as existential angst, mortality, self-worth/esteem and of course, aging. It is also hopefully funny, a memento mori with wit.

Utilizing fabric allows me to explore the funeral lushness found in over- upholstered baroque furnishings, particularly the decidedly non cozy state beds:

Design for state bed by Daniel Marot, 1661-1752

 

Daniel Marot, the designer of the state bed above was a master of baroque theatricality. His designs for court furnishings are astounding , so inventive, whirling madness yet an underlying balance. I can easily stare at his compositions for hours, and I have. My aforementioned decorative work was directly influenced by Marot and his contemporary Jean Berain.

Design by Jean Berain, 1640-1711
Pair of decorative cartouches
1999
Naples, FL

So it was of little surprise that I would return to the wonderful fripperies of Marot and Berain. I particularly admire the baroque compositions that incorporate a writhing pool of figures, sensuously colliding with one another yet all forming a cartouche, a mirror frame or cabinet. The mad fusion of sculpture, ornament and perhaps some functionality.

Design by Daniel Marot.
André Charles Boulle, 1642-1732
Getty Center, Los Angeles

My fripperies and atlantes may not be of ormolu, ivory or silk but they are roiling about in a nutty baroque manner.

Detail from “The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego”

 

In his excellent Baroque Baroque , the art historian Stephen Calloway refers to a  British baroque revival as “bugger’s baroque”, apparently a witty retort to queen-ish  decorative excess. I like to think my “mirror” might have earned that title. Being that The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego is a further exploration of  “sissy” arts, and an element of a larger body of work called Fairyland, I think it has earned that distinction. 

Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego will be part of an upcoming solo show at Ave.50 Gallery, 131 N. Avenue 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042

Opening reception July 8 2017, 7-10 pm.

The Reflection of a Harsh Super Ego
2017
Mixed media: acrylic paint, recycled fabric, thread, feather , fiber-fill
50 by 32 by 6 inches

Goblin Market, the evolution of a painting

“Goblin Market”
2017
oil on canvas
48 by 60 by 2 inches

I finished this painting several weeks ago, but needed to step away from it a bit, literally and figuratively. It is a large painting and that is the direction I would like to take with my studio practice. This painting is in many ways the impetus for my moving studios. I’ve simply run out of room at my charming current studio.

1053 Colorado Bld., unit H, LA

But this has been a long journey, nearly two years, from bringing what had been a seemingly simple response to Christina Rossetti’s incredible poem of the same name, a simple pencil sketch, to this large canvas. 

Before heading off for Philadelphia in the summer of 2015 I made this sketch, dashed it off really. 

Initial concept sketch for “Goblin Market”

I was entering a summer program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and I hadn’t really any concept of how to focus my time. Materials needed to be shipped and I felt overwhelmed logistically. Plus I suffer emotionally from being separated from David and the pups.

I’ve posted before about the PAFA critique program, at times bitterly, but in hindsight I realize how unprepared for the experience I actually was. I now feel, a few years later, that I could approach the experience with more confidence and intentionality (is that a word??).

Perhaps some other summer.

City Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Without a real game plan I decided pretty much on board the plane that Goblin Market was to be my next project for the summer. Part of what I had hoped for with the critique program was to loosen up mentally and creatively, and my little sketch , which I had so enjoyed drawing, would launch me in the right direction. Or so I hoped.

 The following are some sequential images of its making.

Day 1, @ PAFA
Day 2 PAFA
Day 3, PAFA

 

I pause here because this is where strife began between me and the program director , she insisting that this was a finished work, and I insisting it wasn’t. I envisioned a more polished painting and she wished to “free” me from what she perceived were constraints . Again, in hindsight, I feel I could now express my intentions with more clarity, but at the time I felt crushed and confused.

I persevered but warily.

This image is where I left it at PAFA, unable to finish , I rolled it up, threw it on the plane and allowed it to languish in my studio. I tried avoiding it frankly. Then, in 2017 I decided I needed to face the painting once again.

I’ve tweaked it a bit since this next image, but I now believe it to be finished…for now.

 

“Goblin Market”
2017
oil on canvas
48 by 60 by 2 inches

I have a solo show coming up in July, its a small show ( Goblin Market will most likely make its debut), a gallery within a showroom I enjoy showing in. I am excited. It is my first solo show and in many ways it is a clarifying experience.

I’m grappling with what I want to say as an artist and as a person . What is my contribution in this dialogue of life. The window we are given is open ever so briefly, and as I feel  I have only just recently entered into myself, I desire to do so fully.

My show will be called “Fairyland”. It is a concept I wish to explore in depth; I will be putting together more extensive proposals for other solo shows, so this show in July is the model.

The following is a revised statement for “Fairyland”:

“At this stage of my life, off center of a century, I am grappling with ways in which to express my “being-ness”. Unable to avoid the “who am I “ question any longer, I find myself ,as a visual artists reaching beyond my usual studio practice of oil painting into diverse disciplines including figures in the round.The figures are essentially dolls, and are fashioned by fully embracing the pre-conceived sissy element of this art. It is in this extension of my practice that I am exploring, at this late stage, my identity as a queer and terrified man; the specter of the pansy boy I was, being given new voice in my latest ongoing project “Fairyland”. It is in this new series of projects , where paint, needle and thread give expression and validation to a long suppressed self loathing.

The very name “Fairyland”, a word once delivered with bloody blows transcends beyond with a message of empathy, compassion. pride, and I hope , humor. Reclaiming the fairy has been empowering. The art I attempt to create is intended to express the spirit of furtive repression breaking free.”

This is a  FB link to the show:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1913134738968077/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%222%22%2C%22ref_dashboard_filter%22%3A%22upcoming%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22[%7B%5C%22surface%5C%22%3A%5C%22dashboard%5C%22%2C%5C%22mechanism%5C%22%3A%5C%22main_list%5C%22%2C%5C%22extra_data%5C%22%3A[]%7D]%22%7D

 

June 2017

June is proving to be a whirlwind month for me, four group shows this month, plus I am preparing for a solo show in July  AND a studio move!

The following are the shows are lined up for June.

These are good problems to have!

Out There

Los Angeles Art Association & the City of West Hollywood are proud to announce Out There, a very special exhibition celebrating the LGBT experience during West Hollywood’s Pride Month festivities at Gallery 825.

In its 10th year, Out There is a key feature of Pride weekend, an annual event that attracts nearly half a million visitors to West Hollywood. Out There was juried by William Escalera and Francisco George and opens at Gallery 825 on Friday, June 9 and runs through June 16, 2017.

When: Reception – Friday, June 9, 6 to 9p
(runs through June 16, 2017)
Where: Gallery 825, 825 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069

 

 

Crossing Boundaries:Engendering LGBTQ Identities

In celebration of Pride month across the nation, the Avenue 50 Studio takes great pleasure in announcing our upcoming exhibition in which the works of our LGBTQ artists are honored.

Featured artists include: Alex Constant, Ambre Aki Gonzales, Christopher Velasco, Efrain Torres, German Rubio, James Grey, Juan Solis, Leonard D Greco, Miles Hochhalter Lewis, Noel Alumit, Nora Rohman, Roberto Benavidez, Tiffany Syas, Wren Warner

Saturday June 10, 2017 from 7- 10 pm

Sponsored by Michael Wilson. Thank you Michael!

June 10 through July 1, 2017

 

Avenue 50 Studio, Inc., 131 North Avenue 50, Highland Park, CA 90042; (323) 258-1435
http://www.avenue50studio.org ave50studio@sbcglobal.net

 

 

CEDARFEST:32nd Annual Juried Arts Festival , jurors Nicolas Shake and Robin Rosenthal

Opening June 17th, 6-8 pm, show runs June 17- August 5 2017, MOAH:CEDAR 44857 Cedar Ave., Lancaster CA 93534

 

Satan’s Ball
A beloved and feared instant summertime classic, this year’s Satan’s Ball is a powerful, cheeky, unapologetic embrace of the dangers, demons, burdens, and temptations that beckon to the more sinful angels of our nature with the promise of magic, mystery, spells and shadows.

Opening June 24th, 7-10 pm, Art Share L.A.

http://artsharela.org

As I mentioned, I am also planning a move to a new and larger studio. Exciting but daunting, here are a few snaps of the place . The current tenant hadn’t yet moved out on the day the husband and I checked it out. We were both pleased with the northern light and sense of space.

Perception 

I just finished up with an all day, rather grueling artist workshop , the topic at hand being business practices.

Ugh.

 Much I was familiar with, at least superficially, but when role playing was introduced, ( again, ugh) new revelations were revealed .

I’m insufferably shy , I feel ill from exposing myself and of course , who do they call upon first . I was mortified , but I suppose fighting one’s demons is half the task . It’s almost impossible for me to discuss my own work , always trying to deflect scrutiny of the work and by extension , myself .

I still feel mortified . But I tried to persevere through the discomfort.

Part of the workshop was, once divided into small groups, we were to view and describe one another’s work to our group mates . Me being me made positive , probably lame , certainly vague comments  ; truthful but never wanting to hurt feelings . In hindsight I see that as unhelpful.

The observations made concerning my own work were revelations- at least to me .

My  work was described as :

Macabre 

Disturbing 

Religious associations 

Strangely biblically tinged 

Weird

Depicting decay 

Realistically rendered 

Strong 

Chaotic 

More familiarily , it was described as :

Surrealistic 

Colorful 

Brueghel-esque 

Devils 

Narrative 

Fantasy 

On one hand I’m concerned that my work can be perceived as disturbing but on the other I AM trying to create emotionally evocative work . In the end , I left feeling fascinated by perception , the very concept of perception, how I perceive my work not always translating , or if it does , in a darker stranger way than I had planned . This is something , that in so many ways,  cannot be controlled without deliberately designing an image to evoke a specific response .

But that’s perhaps best left to marketing .

It is all so personal ,the work  I make ; it might seem idiosyncratic, perplexing , off putting to some ( many?) . I have only just begun to acknowledge that fact in my bubble of splendid isolation.

I’m not going to make any significant changes after these revelations, in fact I feel committed , dare I say  confident in the direction I’ve set for myself. Whereas previous critique left me in a puddle , I found this experience a helpful , and strangely ,an affirmation . 

One of the facilitators tried to coax me into being more natural while  role playing . The truth being I WAS  being the natural me, the terrified , the insecure me , the one who makes stuff that may seem inscrutable ( even disturbing ) at times . My job now is to continue exploring my beingness, staying focused upon my truth and when possible try to explain it more efffectively . 

And keep business cards at hand.

Now I’m going for a run.