The Objects We Carry

I recently had the good fortune to purchase a memento from my distant past , a drawing of a living room long since shuttered . My dear friend Marge Miccio is a talented artist working primarily in pastels . One of her great gifts is interior portraiture . Generally without human figures ( in my case my dear pup Gizmo can be seen perched on a cushion as was his want ) but her unpopulated rooms speak volumes . I’m delighted that Marge discovered this drawing made back in 1994 . She calls it “The Plaid Sofa”.

I call it wonderful.

To get a sense of her keen eye , here is a photo taken before I left the house, Trenton ,the city I had called home, in fact, my previous life . A new chapter was to unfold but Marge preserved a memory .
I purchased this little rowhouse when I was so very young , flush with new romance for my first love Douglas . We pooled are resources and bought the house for $5000.00!
It was a romantic shambles , but through the years it became home . We purchased other houses  , but when the love we had could no longer sustain us , this little gem became my own .

It wasn’t to last. I was to move forward , a move to Philadelphia where I would meet David and embark upon this adventure I now find myself .

But then , in 1994, months before I packed it all away , this was home. Happiness is having a lovely framed reflection of a life passed.

Now, with the drawing freshly hung in my newly painted apple green living room, my pug Viola occupies the same corner of a different sofa , as her predecessor Gizmo.

Some things do not change .

 Another thing that hadn’t changed is my love of gardening, these rather poor quality images , were taken late summer 1994.
And now another garden beckons …



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. 

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.

Click, Shoot, Exit

I’ve spent the weekend manning  a wall at a local art walk . A first for me . I generally do not attend art fairs , usually attending museum and gallery exhibitions. 

The decision is a pragmatic one , with so many openings , it is really just a matter of time management. So I’m unfamiliar with art fair culture , its norms and practices .

 As the art walk winds down I’ve come to the conclusion that many art fair attendees come for the booze , folks enjoy drinking beer whilst perusing the open studios . Perhaps the only thing they enjoy more than warm brew is snapping at images of artwork and hastily retreating to the next experience.

This isn’t an unfamiliar sight , particularly at museums; I’m afraid to say I’ve done it myself . But when it is your own work , you ache to inquire their motives for snapping away , seemingly in a random superficial way . It seems a peculiar form of ownership , ownership of experiencing a work without commitment.

 I understand that , like I said I snap away with great abandon . Often accruing too many images with little to no  engagement , frequently it’s an impoverished experience.

That said , my “Adam” has been quite the hit . An ideal selfie prop for giggling young women and buff young fellows . It’s odd for me to see my work as a naughty joke , but “Adam” was created in a playful spirit , for him to be recieved that way , seems appropriate. Plus , he doesn’t seem to mind . 

Now I need to take it all down .

Good night , I’m pooped .


The Road to Damascus 

I just needed to draw today. I have several projects going on , some concepts I need to move forward with for upcoming shows but that all said , just wanted to draw , for drawings sake .

 So I did, not the most disciplined of actions perhaps …

I ignored a big looming unfinished painting which is at that stage of “will I ever finish ??”; ignored other works half begun ; ignored projects germinating . 

I drew.

 And this drawing , my interpretation of that moment on the road to Damascus is the result. Not the greatest of accomplishments perhaps but I feel more at ease. 

It was wonderful to have new thoughts and to just let the pencil move where it wanted to . Mentally , drawing is so clarifying. Particularly welcome as my studio is a happy jumble at the moment. Actually it’s always a jumble , which is how I like it.

Tomorrow I will begin anew on “Goblin Market “. But for the moment calling it a night , pleased I listened to that inner voice . 


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