Thursday, January 16, 2014


the studio looked good
after 2 weeks in California
and a week in Hawaii--
indeed, by my standards, rather orderly.
it strikes me that some of the real value
in the "space" of a studio
might lie in the banal moments
of maintenance and upkeep.
clearly, sweating away
over the elusive line
and uncooperative passage of color
offer their own rewards and scars,
but there is some odd strength
to the less poetic pursuits of priming a wall
or balling up the detritus
of masking tape and paper towels
stiffened by the subtraction of acrylic…

in the San Fernando Valley,
Encino, to be specific,
i ply my trade in a small redwood studio,
at times, sitting on a brick porch,
beneath an orange tree.
at other times, i set my work table up by the pool--
large canvases atop bricks and labor under the sun.
in Brooklyn, i work in a former candy factory,
built over a century ago,
a building of sense and history,
of crooked, aching stairs
and weathered 12 foot ceilings...

the work of either coast informs
the work a continent away…
the murky romance of NYC
soils the vivid promise of California,
just as the chlorinated blues
and olive teals of the Valley
inform the work hanging opposite
the 4 tall windows.


this afternoon, my daughter
and i walked blocks west
to Riverside Park. she was excited
by the action of the squirrels
and the dogs they maddened.
it was a very profound moment for me--
walking the streets with my little girl
holding my hand, or at times, merely a finger.
our steps slowly chewing up the distance
to wherever it was we were going.

at 2 1/2 years old, she has distanced herself
from the frivolities of the stroller--
turning her ambitions to the larger game
of independent mobility.

i mean well, but my good intentions
shade many faults.
however, she tolerates me,
as do my wife and long suffering friends.
there are moments when it seems
all i'm really meant for
is sweeping a dirty floor
in a studio in an old building,
in an old part of Brooklyn
near the Navy Yard.
and then there are times when the paint
is moving so well i could cry,
except that wiping the tears
would be a tremendous waste of valuable time.

and then there are times like today--
taking small steps
through the park
my daughter
holding my hand,
or perhaps,
just a finger...


Monday, January 6, 2014


My second meeting with Alex Couwenberg, was at the opening of a group show at POST, curated by the lyrical artist, Robert Kingston. I was new to the LA scene and had an inclination to drink too much and lay by the pool.

The year before ('98, '99?) our work hung side by side at the Ruth Bachofner Gallery. I was impressed by the idiosyncratic line and surface quality of his art and went out of my way to meet him, as he cradled 2 toddlers...

Fast forward a year later and I made my way to Couwenberg again, offering my hand.

"Dude", he said, "you're red..."

And then he drifted away to more engaging conversation.


15 or so years later, art has been traded, floors crashed on, shows have been shared and de-installed, booze poured and cities threatened...

Now, after a week in Hawaii, surfing, paddling, swimming, drinking and re-visiting childhood haunts, I'm feeding my daughter in the San Fernando Valley.

Suddenly bereft of ALOHA, I settle into and cherish the time allowed me by the vibrant woman-child that calls me Daddy...


I'm driving up the 101 to an "undisclosed location", to sit in on the private screening of a film produced by Couwenberg and his lovely Wife (and force of nature), Andi Campognone.

There are shots and sips of Patron and beers and introductions and finally the film...

I first heard of MANA as a concept tossed about by Andi and Alex as we lounged by my parents pool--
this idea of a film on artists and their relationships to the ocean and it's influence on studio practice.

And life...

Directed by Eric Minh Swenson, MANA is so much more than the sum of it's parts.

There is art. There is surfing. There is, to be sure, Hawaii and a beautiful reverence for it's culture and singular vibe.

But, there is also an experience and understanding offered that is almost as illusive as an accurate English definition for the word "mana".

10 artists and 10 approaches to creation. 10 artists and 10 narratives...

I would short change those involved and the film itself, if I tried to cherry pick one quote of profundity over another; or one frame, or image over another...

I'm no critic...

I'm an artist moved and stoked by the processes of peers and friends.

I'm an artist blown away by Swenson's film.

A film unique and needed.

Gracious and electric.

As vividly poetic as it is earnest...