Priorities and the Eternal Cycle

The Alpha & the Omega 2013 mixed media
The Alpha & the Omega
2013
mixed media

I’ve just received word , via text , that a dear friend has just died, cut down far too short. Her death, though expected, stunned me to tears and  has struck me once again by the unfairness of the inevitable. Unfairness is probably a foolish thing to say, it is the bargain life makes with the eternal. On my jog yesterday I was delighted by the glossy virgin leaves of the pear trees, providing a lovely frame to the sweet tender blossoms. But interspersed between the verdure I saw the withered and desiccated leaves of last spring, clinging on just a bit longer. Perhaps holding on, making sure the next generation was established. 

This curbside philosophizing made me chuckle and shudder all at once; I’m the brown leaf and what am I doing fretting about the petty worries of my day? The fresh sprouts of time forever surging forward. I had been fretting, as is my wont, by yet another unfavorable review, this time, that my work was too dense, too time consuming to experience. The critic felt it would take twenty hours to discern and hadn’t the interest or the inclination to do so. That of course stung, but what I realized was, this is MY vision, my interest, my art; not hers. And although the conversation with the world at large is of vital importance, perhaps a fundamental impetus for art making; the conversation with my soul is paramount. I make dense, frequently incomprehensible art (even to myself), it is intuitive and flawed but true.

Today I am feeling the passage of time acutely, with my friend’s death, a nascent cold/flu/bubonic plague looming and most recently a loss of a tooth. That tooth, an emblem of youth, of green vitality , now missing , forces the mirror of life upon me.

Upon hearing of my friend’s death I rushed to the studio, and although it is St. Valentine’s Day and I should say my greatest passion is for my dear David (and it is ), my greatest love today, my most pressing desire, was in making. Making flawed, imperfect art that I hope at times resonates.

Happy St.Valentine’s Day.

The Eternal Cycle 2014
The Eternal Cycle
2014

Mother of the Moon

Given that today is the Lunar New Year ( Year of the Rooster) and after this week of blustering male bravado coming out of the White House , I decided a bit of feminine rebirth was in order.

My relief print from 2015 , a limited edition of six , is available at a reduced price of $75.00 including domestic shipping . There are four left , if interested please contact me at neobaroque@mac.com

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Mother of the Moon

Onward in Solidarity: The Women’s March LA

Tomorrow the coarsest man imaginable ascends to power, an unthinkable concept for so many of us.

The following day, that same incredulous crowd will take to the streets for the Women’s March in D.C. and sister marches across the country. I plan, in solidarity, to march as well here in L.A.  

In the spirit of the 1913 Suffrage Parade, I channeled Hedwig Reicher’s fantastic embodiment of Columbia for my marching placard, but I switched out the western allegory for the Aztec mother goddess Coatlicue, She of the Serpent Skirt- who but a fierce Latina could best smite the Orange One?

Hedwig Reicher as Columbia, 1913 Suffrage March. Library of Congress
Hedwig Reicher as Columbia, 1913 Suffrage March.
Library of Congress

My take…

Coatlicue, placard for Women's March LA 2017
Coatlicue, placard for Women’s March LA 2017

Being a big homo and loving the growing interest in so called “pussy hats”, I stitched up my own “pussy-boy” hat. 

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Amidst the spirit of unity there is a bit of conflict amongst those so upset by Trump’s rise to power. Initially there was a call to protest by not engaging in commerce; going so far as to ask museums and art institutions to shutter for the day. Many reasonable people have argued this is a bit of slicing off one’s own nose; what better balm than art.

I get that.

But personally I plan to abstain from any commerce , art related or not. It may very well be an impotent gesture, but by hunkering down in my studio, ignoring the bombast in Washington, I hope to maintain a bit of calm.

Others will seek solace where they find it, but no matter what, we artists are for the most part united in solidarity.

Onward.

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“Good” Immigrant,”Bad” Immigrant

Tommy & Mary (anchorbabies?) 2017 oil on panel 8 by 8inches
Tommy & Mary (anchorbabies?)
2017
oil on panel
8 by 8inches

As the installation of our new president  fast approaches and memories of the ugly divisiveness that the election stirred up, my thoughts turn to many things. First and foremost perhaps is immigration (the environment a close second when it comes to nail biting). What on earth does it mean to be an “illegal”, why we disdain some groups and laud others. What will happen to the undocumented?

Is it really so simple an issue that  some folks entered “properly” and others  enter through sheer will power, pluck  and with a great deal of risk. I tend to think it is more than that. I often turn to my own immigrant stock grandparents who by the time I was a child were pretty much considered “good immigrants”.

And they were.

My grandparents were hardworking, ambitious and proud to be part of the fabric that makes this nation what it is . But so are the Mexican-American folks in my own neighborhood, many I suspect might have less than legal status. When I encounter the generosity of my neighbor up the hill, offering up a gorgeous platter of tamales , I am reminded of my Calabrian grandfather and the delight he took in a shared meal. When I see the diligence and pride my housekeeper Laura puts into her work, I am reminded of my Slovak grandmother;  who felt no task too menial to not do well.

Then why? Why this difference in perception? Family lore was my grandfather was conceived on the way over to Ellis Island, that now seems apocryphal, but would he have been considered an anchor baby? It’s all very true that they entered “legally” , but must it be so arduous to be part of this great experiment? I wish it weren’t, we seemed to have been on a path of fairness. Now I fear a terrible regression.

As fate would have it I was notified of a group exhibition specifically addressing this heated issue. I was very eager to participate and this small painting will be part of the “fabric” of that show. I couldn’t be more delighted. My anxiety might not be lessened, but at least I was kept busy. In such times, that is all I hope for. If you are in LA please try to attend.

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walter maciel gallery

2642 s. la cienega blvd.

los angeles, ca 90034

Co-curated by Monica Lundy

7 January – 4 March 2017

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 7th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Walter Maciel Gallery is pleased to present With Liberty and Justice for Some, featuring the work of several contemporary artists who have been invited to create portraits of immigrants to the United States. The show is a statement on the many fears surrounding the announcement of our new president elect and a powerful response rejecting the presumed policies that threaten to disrupt basic civil rights.
December 10
A Change is Gonna Come

I’m closing with this image of my grandparents, if they were still alive , the would be over a century old. 

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Studio Clearance Sale

The Great War God Huitzilopochtli, 2014, 8 by 10"
The Great War God Huitzilopochtli, 2014, 8 by 10″

So its that time of year when one feels compelled to clear out the old and make way for the new. I hope in 2017 to begin afresh , adding printmaking to my studio practice. And while going through the stacks of prints in my archives I decided to try to move them along to happy homes. The following relief prints including handsome Huitzilopochtli are for the most part from 2014-2016. Ordinarily a one-block print (single color run) would sell for $100.00; this sale the same prints are 75.00 each, two for 100.00 (shipping and handling 17.00).

Thus far these are the prints available at that price.  I give plate size,not actual print size. Plate size indicates the block I carve into;  generally the following prints look handsome matted and framed at 12 by 15″. 

 If interested feel free to contact me directly at: neobaroque@mac.com

 

Death & the Maiden 2014
Death & the Maiden
2014

Death & the Maiden, 2014, plate size 8 by 10″, series of 6, 5 available.

The Virgin of Guadalupe 2014
The Virgin of Guadalupe
2014

The Virgin of Guadalupe, 2014, plate size 8 by 10″, series of 4, 2 left.

Agnus Dei 2014
Agnus Dei
2014

Agnus Dei, 2014, plate size 8 by 10″, series of 6, 5 available.

The Eternal Cycle 2014
The Eternal Cycle
2014

The Eternal Cycle, 2014, plate size 6 by 9″, series of 6, 2 available .

The Great War God Huitzilopochtli, 2014, 8 by 10"
The Great War God Huitzilopochtli, 2014, 8 by 10″

 

The Great War God Huitzilopochtli, 2014, plate size 8 by 10″, 3 proofs on mulberry paper available.

Tlaloc 2014
Tlaloc
2014

 

 

Tlaloc, 2014, plate size 8 by 10″, series of 8, 4 available.

The Siren's Call 2016
The Siren’s Call
2016

The Siren’s Call, 2016, plate size 8 by 10″, series of 7, 5 available (note, hand colored, slight variations).

Neo Medievalism and the Approaching Dark Age

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As 2016 winds down I want to pause, taking the time to reflect upon what 2017 might bring, personally and aesthetically. I’ve had a long fascination with 1917, it seemed  such a dynamic period; the October Revolution will mark its centennial this year, as one example.

For me, 1917 seemed exceptional, society was on the cusp of modernity yet still rooted in what was the past. Values, aesthetic, cultural and artistic were changing at a rapid pace, yet still there were antimacassars on the back of velveteen settees, suffragettes were only just beginning to gather steam and art vacillated between DADA and academic treacle. It seems to have been a period of incredible potential, one faced an optimistic yet uncertain future.

I feel that way now, one hundred years later. Yet whereas 1917 was being propelled into the Jazz and later the Atomic Age, I’m fearful of being pulled back into the Dark Ages. I needn’t harp about the President Elect and the backward thinking regime he wishes to install. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my opinions and my anxieties.

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(source unknown, sorry)

 

My instinct is to crawl back into my hermitage, something I may very well do (although I do hope to participate in social activism as needed). While there I hope to work at perfecting an aesthetic that I think is working for me. My last large painting Hadesville felt to me to be my most successful yet ( it will get its first public showing this Friday at a pop up show in LA). I feel I am on to something and have been calling what I wish to explore Neo-Medievalism.

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Hadesville

I’m finding freedom in this aesthetic that I am honing , from the exploration of surface pattern to the quirky articulation of the figures. One of the elements of actual medieval/early Renaissance art that I love is the use of  synoptic narrative, where all of the action takes place on one plane; that just fascinates the hell out of me.

It’s incredibly liberating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative_art#Synoptic_narrative

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I suspect the hermitage theme will preoccupy my studio practice in 2017. I’ve been obsessing about hermitages for years but now with what feels like dark winds blowing against my door, the inclination to withdraw into the anchorite’s cave has never been more pressing.

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Tucson Art Museum
Tucson Art Museum

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Source, ?
Source, ?

Of course , if I am to explore hermits, I can’t forget about Anthony of the Desert OR his pig!

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(Getty)

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(LACMA)

Our pig SweetTea may very well serve as a model.

 

 

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Sweet Tea at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary, Tucson AZ. Many pigs need sponsorship, please consider!

My interest in Neo-Medievalism was fueled by a recent trip to the Sequoia National Park , where the majesty of these ancient gods, some sacrificed by fire, some  promising hope for a new age, moved me deeply. This beautiful charred corpse is as crenelated as  gothic fretwork.

15135845_10210724427096395_7678041243085763309_nYet through the remains of a burnt trunk, new life.

15193592_10210724427336401_4606782265126548584_nI’m finished pondering what 2017 will bring, instead I must get to actual work. I will close with images that promise to inspire my pen. For a fuller appreciation I suggest listening to Hildegard, this link is to one of my favorite recordings of her vast body of work.

 

13512238_10209298833897456_3218639598302787422_n Now onward!

LACMA
LACMA
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source?

 

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This image, Dido?, her belly, so typical of this period , was an influence for the image of Gnosis in my painting Gnosis…and the Old Gods Were Pleased. The painting recently sold to an East Coast collector, thrilled about that but still a bit melancholy for I fear Gnosis has fled in these dark times.

Gnosis...and the Old Gods Were Pleased (private collection)
Gnosis…and the Old Gods Were Pleased
(private collection)

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To a new year, battle ready !

Adam

Adam is finished, and just in time for Krampusnacht!

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Adam (the Minotaur)

2016

Painted canvas and rag cloth, embroidery floss, poly-fill stuffing 

Approximately 24 by 15 inches

Adam is to be shown in an upcoming Stitch Fetish show here in L.A., and as the name implies , the show focuses on salacious needlework. Right up my alley !

Happy Krampusnacht!

Blue Krampus!, 2014, relief print on paper , 9 by 12"
Blue Krampus!, 2014, relief print on paper , 9 by 12″