Friday, March 16, 2018

another draft from 2013 I stumbled on... I remember this time, this discovery, that Summer...
these are the unedited thoughts in my head put down (not on paper)... 

NYC, 3.16.18

last summer, on a balcony in Fishkill, NY, i began work on what became a series of calligraphic drawings (acrylic) on a lightweight paper. the notebook made its way with my family and i to Montauk and Long Beach Island, where work was done on the beach under the sun...

the paint used was a pale blue. it seemed fitting, given the pastoral, lyrical life we were leading between beach, city and countryside.

in my Bklyn studio, i've a pile of similarly calligraphic drawings in black acrylic. with each work session, i try to do at least 4 or 5, before heading home to Manhattan in the German Steel...

i see these drawings as i see my work with kettle bells-- wholly satisfying in and of themselves, yet, much more to the point, a conditioning process for a larger enterprise. these works exist, in and of themselves, but they are a conditional tool in the process of my studio practice.

for several months, i saw my summer notebook as a similar exercise. but, recently,
i began to look anew...

i saw (suddenly it seemed) a starting point for a new body of work. responding to the gesture before me (as so often in the past) i went back in-- the paper buckling under weight of the additional paint-- the simple paper becoming a precious object...

I stumbled upon theses words as a draft-
unafraid, not committed to life...
from a different time- years ago:

the grand thoughts and feverish ideas
of time alone in the water
and on the beach have given way
to the reality of the city
and art and being a father…

i solved problems sitting on a surfboard
bobbing up on the swells that didn't break
and paddling hard for the ones that did.
i caught up on my time with myself
and the water and the sun
and the creatures, so skillfully beneath me…

there is so much life out there that i could cry
at what is left behind. so much life out there
that i know there are those who will never know
the feeling of the drip of it's residue.

i have loved this life so hard it almost killed me.
there are cautionary tales to success stories and most poems.
you just have to read them…

i tilt forward and press my face into the mass
of wilting pink roses before me on the table.
the scent is weak, but there. i sit on the couch
next to my sleeping daughter
and watch a man lay a shin upon the temple
of another with a beautiful rear leg roundhouse kick--
poetry of the highest order…

i am counting blessings undeserved and grateful--
probing along the way…


i miss the nights of Wooster and West Broadway,
Spring and Prince…

the nights of cobblestones and anonymous weed
lit in storefronts by Cooper Union girls,
scared of nothing and aching for everything

the era of SoHo leads one
to change the names of the innocent.

the wood floors carry prints
that are best left forgotten…

the stairs up led to art and wine
and slivers of a culture.

the stairs down led to another show
and another bed preceded
by another glass of shit wine.

but it was beautiful.

it was beautiful in a way
that is now
(if not forgotten)
long gone.

and i guess
i'm all the better for it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day 2018 indeed... At my home, everyday is Women's Day.

It seems to work.

A day set aside to celebrate Women- perhaps the abstract concept of "Woman". I'm on board for any number of reasons, some quite personal, some quite obvious... I view the celebration of the Feminine as holy a prospect as the potential celebration of the Masculine. Though, in all honesty, we're not going to see that anytime too soon. Our culture's preoccupation with "social justice" shuts the door on that prospect with a hardy abandon. I've read my Marx, Mao and, indeed, far more than enough French Post-Modernism, to find this dishonesty and juvenile subjectivity as loathsome as I find the tenets of those that would decry the elementary issue of climate shifts, alternative energies and great friends of mine getting married and parenting any number of fortunate children. As a side note, I find it interesting that the Left has recently taken up the Right's populist tool of tossing objective science out the window... Enough.

All that being said,  I raise a glass to the Women in and of my life.

My Mother married a career military man
and ended up with the chore of raising a son the likes of me.

My Wife, for all evidence and testimony,
a Woman of high intelligence,
took it upon herself to marry me and further still,
to become the Mother of my Daughter...

My Daughter... What can I say? She is such a lovely, brutal paradox.
The Artist, The Martial Artist, The Storyteller...
There is joy in our time together that I cannot fathom...
I just try to keep up.

Last Summer, as I spent a day in the pool with her in Southern California,
I marveled at the strength of her (self-taught)
swimming and later that night wrote in a notebook:

I watch her through the lenses of goggles, 
as if a looking glass 
and see the woman 
she will be...

Friday, March 2, 2018

Somewhat ironically, I'm sipping tequila before typing these words... Though, in general, I view irony as a sordid excuse for the lame, in this case, it fits nicely. After navigating the intricacies of escorting my savage, 6 year old daughter to school on time (the vagaries of breakfast, the esoterica of wardrobe, etc.), the morning's program consisted of iced espresso and hypertrophic protocols.

The question on my mind was one of booze and stasis... For 51 years old of not giving a fuck, the lesson had been driven home, but possibly ignored. The grace, at times, gave way to the hangover and they do not come easy. I took it, then, as a question of discipline. I didn't want to quit drinking, as I enjoy my martinis on my Father-in-Law's balcony, basking in his somewhat slurred wisdom and our shared ability to create a 2 man landscape of familial travel potential and glory, but I saw the active lessening of booze as an ally against training with 22 year old college wrestlers and the very realistic order of getting shit done. Getting shit done on a higher level...

Years ago, I wrote that I was once so young that it almost killed me. Now I'm not so young. I'm the middle aged painter the 23 year old poet could never know. I am not going quietly, rest assured, but there are objective realities to be addressed...

But perhaps this is becoming too maudlin... Life is so beautiful- it gores an incision, luscious, across my soul and I walk away from all of it and meditate on the gift that my Wife is and the beauty of teaching my Daughter chess and I drive to the Brooklyn studio in the German steel to paint and sort out any number of catastrophes...

I am, no more or less, the echo of a young artist trying to get his shit together....

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.


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?


But I wear those colors proudly.

As proudly as I wear my scars...