Sunday, July 26, 2015

If you see one gallery show, walking the fetid concrete of Chelsea, see "UNLIMITED POTENTIAL", at Lyons Wier Gallery, curated by the powerful James Austin Murray. I'm honored to be included in this exhibition, alongside some amazing artists- James Little, Alex Couwenberg, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Gayle Ruskin, Suzanne Laura Kammin, Jeff Muhs and Christopher Rico to name just a few.

It's a solid curatorial effort and a beautiful installation. If you manage to make your way to another gallery, hit Robert Miller and allow yourself to be blown away by a fantastic, truly epic offering of very historical work-- most notably 2 monster paintings, among the best of the last century-- bar none, by Lee Krasner.

I will be very honest and put down in print that I always felt Krasner was overrated.

Nope.

Maybe I'm a fool (not the first time that thought came to me), or I just hadn't seen enough of her work live-- living in the light before me. But from what I had seen, it didn't seem to cut it-- it couldn't hold with the masters and heroes...

This of course brings me back to the days of touring the galleries with Ruth Kligman. My friend and former owner of L.I.C.K Ltd. Fine Art, Andrew Miller, was representing Ruth in her quest to authenticate and/or sell a work that has since been titled, "Red, Black & and Silver". Ruth was the woman who had once been young enough to survive a certain night with Pollock in the Hamptons with a large car and belly full of booze, 8.11.56, to be exact. Her friend, Edith Metzger was not so lucky.

The aging Ruth I met was fond of flowing black robes and large hats. She lived in Franz Kline's former space on 14th street (she got around...), the walls posted with black and white photos of Ruth with various mid-century titans. In the bedroom, over the bureau, was the modestly scaled work that seemed consistent with Pollock's technique and graphic vocabulary. She claimed it was the last painting he created. It was unsigned. It was, as one might imagine, not valid in the eyes of the Pollock/Krasner Foundation and never authenticated.

"She would never allow it," Ruth said...

There has since been well documented forensic discoveries, that could lead one to believe that, in fact, the work is genuine. Perhaps. Perhaps not... Either way, Ruth isn't around to enjoy the party and neither is Lee Krasner.

But all of that is in the past...

I don't have the titles (I'm not a journalist) but the work speaks for itself if you just get there. In one piece Krasner stakes her claim to the formal aesthetic legacy of her man, Jackson, broadening it in fact- taking it to a place he never had the chance to... Frankenthaler got that medal, but that was probably based on her looks, Clem and the fact that her canvas was laying down on the studio floor. Its seems nobody noticed the "Pollock Widow" kicking ass and taking names in Springs, bearing the grief and horror of memory...

With a buoyant, dare I say, optimistic painting, Krasner nails a legit, late-twentieth century take on Matisse-- and blasts it into very personal and intimate space that (to my eye) no artist of her age went to...

It's a group show at Robert Miller. It's nothing but quality. Historic Quality... Paul Jenkins looks good. Milton Resnick is powerful- looking like Milton Resnick, but it's Krasner that will forever stay with me. And I mean forever. I've seen a shit load of art around the world and I've read my Kant and I know when a painting works and when it falls apart. I've wept in the Van Gogh Museum and I've slept under a Hermann Nitsch. I guess that by this time I can call a spade a spade and a great painting a great painting.

Krasner nailed down great work. Maybe it's only these 2 paintings that moved me so, maybe not. But if thats it-- it's enough...

Theres nothing more exciting than being proven wrong. I will now forever hold Krasner up with the giants. I think her time and proficiency came late and perhaps, not often. But when it came, it came with a cry to callous sinew and bone. Harsh, immediate and most importantly, honest...

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Devouring time, blunt thou the lions paws."
           William Shakespeare, Sonnet 19

In and of itself, aging is not a bad thing. I've grown somewhat amused by the vagaries and delicate intrusions of it's practice-- fighting them all the way. I've been admonished, harshly, yet not unjustly, by my Wife, Friends and Parents to ease into the silk of what Dylan Thomas so beautifully termed, "that good night".

Yet, of course, I cannot go silently...

There is a life lived vital and there is a life lived vicariously. There are fighters and there are spectators. There is the arena and there is the sofa... I've added weight to my bench press and dropped it on my deadlift only to preserve technique. And my back... A concession, perhaps, to age, though I would prefer to think it a concession to the more mobile aspects of my physical life- not to mention the flights of stairs I climb to my studio and the hoisting of 7 foot canvases to the screws in the paint smeared wall...

I've dealt with 5 days on crutches. Five days bereft of paint, iron, or the joy of picking up my daughter. 5 hard days... A few of them hopeless.

After my Doctor examined the MRI he concluded that there were medial and lateral tears of the meniscus and that my ACL was, variously,  "...a lump of snot," and/or "gone..."

I will not strive for personal bests in the squat and deadlift, though they will haunt me-- mocking me with low weight and feeble results. But I've managed the stress of harsher demons, so I'll shed the ghosts of a bar loaded with plates and enjoy the delicacies of fast twitch fibers to earn my protein.

As a young Poet, I dreamed that I wanted to live my life as a poem. Now, as a middle-aged painter, I seem to be living life as a vigorously brushed painting- smudged, layered and perhaps a bit too heavy handed for it's own good. As an artist, I've always allowed myself to enjoy the back-roads to a painting-- the shift and questioning. the moments of utter loss and glowing joy... Romantic and perhaps nonsensical?

Yes...

But I wear those colors proudly.

As proudly as I wear my scars...






Saturday, February 21, 2015

Art & Life

writing or drawing 
while my daughter sleeps
second guessing my labors of yesterday 
while my daughter sleeps
my daughter at her easel 
pausing reflectively before the violence ensues
my daughter and i at MoMa
my daughter and i at an opening
my daughter and i at my opening 
my daughter and i at any number of galleries
my daughter banging her head to Saxon
my daughter telling me to "hear" her
my daughter reciting the lines 
of various and sundry Disney princesses
i'm shopping for tonights dinner 
before hitting the studio 
forgetting that Manhattan grocery shopping 
on a saturday entails the rude, oblivious and insane
i'm putting together a stew before i hit the studio
i'm painting my ass off 
keeping an eye on the snow 
outside the tall windows

Art and the life around it mingle together like furtive teenagers at a basement keg party-- awkward, perhaps lewd, casting glances that may or may not be appreciated... You go through your day
and if you're not there tearing it up in the studio, you are certainly thinking about it.
A specific gesture comes to mind-- a movement, a piece of brilliance that you missed last night or the night before. Thoughts of color and placement, realization, composition and the like...

The beauty is that you can't second guess yourself hypothetically. The making of Art is not simply the application of materials. There is the guessing-- there is the thought and tumult... The major contemplations of Monday are but empty bottles and wads of masking tape come Thursday.

And thats fine (I believe it was Ginsberg who admonished us to never begin a line with "and", but it feels so good to do so and I'm cool with being a bad writer, so fuck it...). We have that beautiful authority to cast out what could otherwise be construed as "failure" and unravel what becomes victory (I grimaced as this was typed, but, again, fuck it, its so true...).














Tuesday, February 3, 2015

As I played with my Daughter, about an hour ago, word came of the passing of Robin Ross. She was 61. Diabetes...

It seems strange now, but I never thought of Diabetes as a killer. Live and learn...

I first met Robin around '97 in either Brooklyn or LIC. I remember being blown away by the muscular intensity of her laboriously built paintings-- Art troweled on, scarred, Umber soil and carvings of poetry. I was a babe of 30 when we met- fueled by violence and any number of unspeakable vices and doubts and Robin put up with my immaturity and my bravado and went about her business-- perhaps laughing behind my back, but only in kindness. or perhaps pity...

In 2001, she had a brilliant solo show at Andrew Miller's short lived L.I.C.K. Ltd. Fine Art and shortly after that, she moved back to Colorado.

Over the last few years, I kept up with Robin's work via images of paintings and mysterious notebook pages on social media (some of which made veiled reference to her failing health).

And now she's gone...

Adjectives form at my finger tips: caring, odd, lyrical, kind, open, brave, thoughtful, endearing, triumphant...

And while the Gods have managed to gain a great human soul and one hell of a painter, I can't help but feel rather sorry for all of us left behind.

Watching the furious efforts of my Daughter at her easel often brought thoughts of Robin to me.

They would have loved each other...

I'm not as sad as I am numb right now. I will pour another tequila and raise the glass in hopes that will facilitate the appropriate level of heartache.

My thoughts are with Robin's Husband, Noah Baen and the rest of her family and friends.

And I will conclude with Robin's own words, words incised into the ground of a sumptuous painting on paper that hangs in front of me now as I type.

"The Poem is on The Ground
The settler Has Not Yet Found The Boundary."

Friday, August 8, 2014

                                                          1.

Months before my daughter was born, I vowed to work towards creating a life free of the negative-- or, at least as free of the negative as it could be given the variance of life and art and meals poorly prepared. And so I walked away… The "art world" could wait-- I would have a child to raise and train to move in her own style and swagger. My hands would be full...

3 years later, my daughter paints better than me, with an assured authority that belies her lack of grammatical prowess and syntax, or experience with the Russian novel...

                                        If, in 30 years, 
                                        she paints as she does now, 
                                        the world will be a better place…



                                                             2.

Fast forward to now as I type this, nestled in the bosom of the San Fernando Valley…   I am a lucky man. I was married in Vegas and left $1,300 ahead. It was a fine omen given the life we have carved out-- our union and all the rest-- travel, art, the ocean, martial arts, cooking, wine, what have you…

As for today and this thing we know as the "present"-- having worked out, swam, cared for a toddler and tussled with the confusions and physicality of art-making, notebooks and an art "career", I sit here typing with a belly full of meat, greens and tequila, understanding that optimism is the one tool we need, bereft of others-- be it poet, painter, chef, fighter, bigot or victim… Optimism for the poet or painter keeps them going and we, the world, need that. Optimism keeps the chef working and we, the world, need that too… It keeps the fighter hitting the bag and working takedown defense and the offensive guard and it can make the bigot understand his fuckups and see the world in a better, more objective light and it allows the victim to understand that there is so much more out there-- so much more life to go…

If you enter into this beast, that is the "art world", you will stumble, you will (perhaps) become jaded, bummed out, lost, frustrated and/or denied. But you will-- you must-- continue.

There will always be the voices of sorrow, art rehab and quitting. Silence them.

Continue. And endure. It's just better that way...

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Daughter worked rapidly at her easel,
loaded up her brush and paused contemplatively,
"I'm going to cast another spell Daddy…"

I am clearly biased,
but words more profound
have yet to be uttered...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This morning I was surf casting for fluke on Long Beach Island and after being shut out, went for a run along the shore. A day of driving and a night in the studio later, time being the ambiguous slut that it is, we will say that, some weeks back, the ladies and I took a taxi down to 25th Street for the opening of Joan Mitchell at Cheim & Read. I will publicly admit that I now feel I never looked at her work properly. I didn't get it, thought I did and worse yet, voiced opinions that now seem pretty ridiculous, given how moved I was by the exhibition titled, "Trees".

Fair enough… Perhaps the recent protocols of dead lifts, tequila and grass-fed beef evolved my patterns and processes.

Sorry Joan, I fucked up. But I can live with myself, I don't worry too much about the guy on the treadmill...

And Soulages… These are the times that make life here a bit more worth the living.

While we dealt with the frozen challenges of the past winter, my Wife and I (more or less) seriously discussed moving to LA. Now, after beautiful adventures on Fire Island, Montauk and Long Beach Island (and a month in LA to look forward to), I think we're both happy where we are… Now, as this season winds down, I'm benefiting from that buoyant optimism that is the reward of endurance in the face of hardship-- the optimism that is the rarefied status of an artist living and creating in NYC. Yes, it sucks that the drive to my Brooklyn studio can take up to an hour. But fuck it-- I live in Manhattan…


And there is the optimism of labor- good hours in that Brooklyn studio…
And there is the optimism of the paint of others showing and selling and sharing.

Having just returned from Montauk, I turned around and drove the German Steel back East to Bridgehampton for the Art Market Hamptons Fair. The triumphant James Austin Murray met me at the  gate and we took it all in before the rush of crowds and plastic surgery. With 4 new good sized pieces in the Lyons Wier booth, my man was clearly (to my eye) the star of show. But there was also (with Lyons Wier) the killer work of Jeff Muhs- painterly, ethereal, what have you…

At Katherine Markel Fine Art, Suzanne Laura Kammin stood out with her painterly attack, as did the nuanced pyrotechnics of Jeffrey Cortland Jones-- a few weeks off of his solo show (that should not be missed) at KMFA.

The day of his opening, Jones graciously paid a visit to my studio. Fittingly, I picked him up in front of The Met. What could be better?

There will always be the talk and the ink reserved for a Marden show, or Soulages, Mitchell or the latest debacle at the Whitney (perhaps a Koons retrospective, or the manufacture of chocolates?). But with so much fine painting in one season, the soul smiles and the drinks taste better...