December 14, 2009

Work in progress (2)

More work has gone into my painting of the Angel of Incineration about to firebomb Dresden. This is what it looks like now.
See my December 12 post for an earlier view. Some work remains to be done.

December 12, 2009

Work in progress

Here's the Angel of Incineration diving to deliver her fireball to the prone city of Dresden. This is a work in progress. Still looking amateurish at this point.

I'm painting it for a show on the Dresden firebombing I'm having at the at Bard College at Simon's Rock January 18 to February 12. It will be in the Great Barrington college's Atrium Gallery.

After 1 1/2 years working with acrylics, I've switched back to oils for this one to keep it in sync with the other paintings in the series I did several years ago.

My painting is derived from William Blake's Pity show below.

Ornithologically speaking, my wings are in the wrong position, unless she's putting down her flaps to slow down for a landing. Also, I have to tone  the gold down.

The painting is 4' x 5' and the bodies are cut-outs of canvas that I gessoed to the painting. The face of the prone woman, in my painting, is a blowup taken from Blake's. I also collaged a print of the horsewoman's face on the angel.

But it lost too much of the detail in the enlargement. And what you see instead is yesterday's effort to paint a reasonable facsimile of the Blake face. It isn't there yet.
Click on photos to enlarge.

December 10, 2009

Street joy

 During my gallery quests in New York, I shot lots of pictures. Last Friday I took more than 200.

One of my favorites from that haul was this one.

  Photo by Grier Horner/All rights reserved
Click on photo to enlarge.

December 8, 2009

Work on the wild side

Photos by Grier Horner

If you want to take a walk on the wild side, hit the Paul Kasmin Gallery in Manhattan and feast your eyes on Walton Ford's allegorical nature paintings.

It doesn't take you long to realize that the subjects in the Great Barrington artist's monumental watercolors would just as soon feast on you.

As these wolves are doing on the body of a dead soldier killed at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. This is where Napoleon won the battle but lost his quest to conquer Russia because he failed to pursue the retreating Russian Army.

 In this detail from that painting, you can see how brilliantly Ford depicts the wolves' ferocity and aspects of his painting style. The works are watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper. These are not timid paintings either in subject or scope. This one is 60" x 119".

Below is a detail from another painting, The Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London - 3 December 1830.

These are photos of the paintings as you see them in the gallery, glare and reflections included. They were taken December - 179 years and one day after the incident in which two tigers mauled a lion.

My shot of Ford's painting, An Encounter with Du Chaillu, includes not only the marauding gorilla, but refections of me taking the picture and a truck passing by on the street.

Paul du Chaillu was an anthropologist, explorer, hunter and author who confirmed the existence of gorillas on a trip to West Africa during the 1860s.

In a nice twist, the gorilla, not du Chaillu, comes away with the trophy in this painting. And it leaves you wondering if the animal is going to manage to kill itself with the gun despite its twisted barrel.

Ford, who was born in Larchmont, New York, in 1960 is in the art world's bigtime. Museums give him shows. Critics give him raves. Collectors buy his work. The New York Times writes feature articles about him, as do other publications.

In a January 2009 New Yorker profile, he told writer Calvin Tomkins, "Before Fay Wray comes to Skull Island, King Kong isn't doing anything. There's no story until she shows up...What I'm doing, I think, is a sort of cultural history of the way animals live in the human imagination."

He may be giving the human imagination too much credit.

What he's doing is the way animals and events live in his imagination. And he does it powerfully.

Ford's show will be up through December 23. The Paul Kasmin Gallery is located at 293 Tenth Avenue at the corner of 27th Street.

December 6, 2009

Gallery Quest 5

 In my ongoing Gallery Quest, I hit 27th Street on Friday. I was lucky. If I'd put the trip to Manhattan off or gone back to 23rd Street as I'd planned, I would have missed Andrea Mastrovito's wild and wonderful show at the Foley Gallery. It closed yesterday.

His large paintings were butted together forming a single work of art that must have been 75 feet long as it circled three walls of the gallery at 547 West 27th Street.

I couldn't find any reviews, but New York Magazine gave it this squib:

"An exquisite show composed almost entirely of paper and exploring the edgiest theme of all: love. Imagine if Van Gogh had had a child who became a genius in the art of origami."

I think I'd slice a little Kara Walker and James Bond to that mix as well. And a pinch of Edward Scissorhands.

Here are a two details of the diptych show at the top to give you a better idea what this young Italian artist is doing.

Lights. Cameras. Action. Color. Drama. Humor. Figures formed of cutout letters. Animals copulating. Adam and Eve. Origami. Well, not exactly origami, because that's the art of folding paper. I think Mastrovito's is the art of cutting and layering paper as he builds his collages.

And here's a closeup from another painting. It gives added insight into Mastrovito's technique.

How's the Gallery Quest going? Stay tuned.
Photos by Grier Horner/Click to enlarge

December 3, 2009


This is the moon taken through the trees last night with a handheld camera. And below, camera hand held again, is a shot of the windows of my house emitting light like flames.

And here is the hand that held the camera and the camera that was held. Also there is paint under the fingernails and on the cheek.

I painted in the afternoon. In the morning Gae came over and we figured out what paintings she was going to put in her house.

At noon I went to hear Ellen Lahr, a former Eagle reporter, talk at Berkshire Community College. She spoke engagingly about sources who had acted bravely as sources for several stories she wrote. Then Ellen and I went to lunch in Lenox.

"Which wine, white or red, goes best with the tomato soup?" I asked Ellen.

"Red. I believe in color coordination."

So I got the red.

Photos by Grier Horner/All rights reserved. Click on photos to enlarge

December 2, 2009

Where's the sled

Rudolph and the gang must have had the day off when we saw Santa cruising on his Harley on I 495 the other day.

Or maybe St. Nick has put them out to pasture.

If he did my son Eric, a Hog owner, will be delighted to discover the jolly old elf's new mode of transportation.

I'm not sure whether a Harley contributes more to global warming than eight reindeer. Nine if it's a foggy night.

But I do know that this bellowing cycle is going to give new meaning to the lines:

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
  I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

To any kid wondering if these saddle bags can hold all the toys, don't forget Santa crammed everything into that chimney-capable bag he flung on his back. After all, Santa's magic.

P.S. This is my 100th post on Blogspot. Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man has had a much longer history at Click on photo to enlarge it. Photo by Grier Horner/All rights reserved.

November 30, 2009

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Emily and Heather ham it up to make a crying child laugh. Photos by Grier Horner/All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving at Pete and Zoa's is not just a meal. It is the annual gathering of the clan. And it lasts from Thursday through Saturday.

This is my Thanksgiving album. It features:
  • Emily, a high school senior who just starred in her high school musical, and her sister Heather, who is studying dance at  the University of Cincinnati.
  • Pete and Zoa Guernsey, who have hosted the annual family Thanksgiving feast for almost half a century. (And may the tradition they started - one that has created a tight-knit family - continue a long, long time.
  • The girls, Zoe, Sarah Mei and Riley. And the Pitt players.

Zoe, Sarah Mei and Riley.

Shannon, our daughter; Cookie, Babbie's sister, and Pete, the host and patriarch.

The bunch (some memebers missing).

 Playing Pitt, a commodities trading free for all. From left, Pete Jr., Zoann, Sarah Mei and Zoe.

Ending the way we started with Heather and Emily. They're  dozing after the feast.

November 28, 2009

November skies

Climbing the mall road the other day, I shot this out the side window of  the Prius. Those clouds, those amazing clouds.

To me 2009 is the year of the cloud, as I have said here before. I can't remember seeing so many days of great skies before.

Thursday as we wolfed down a spectacular Thanksgiving meal at Pete and Zoa's - who have been hosting the annual family get together for almost 50 years - the sky was gray. But in the house with 23 of us at the table it was all light and warmth and memories.

When it all started Babbie and I were still in our 20s. Now we are the oldest of the three generations at the table. Our children are now older than we were when Pete and Zoa extended their first invitatioin.

I hope the kids, and their kids keep the tradition flourishing another half century.

Getting back to clouds, here's another  shot, this one on a partly sunny day when the clouds capped the hills.

Photos by Grier Horner/All rights reserved

November 26, 2009

What's so Odd?

Odd Nerdrum is a painter who I tried to paint like when I was given this book some years ago. But I couldn't master his old- master style.

Still I tried recently to capture the spirit of this Odd image in this self portrait. I should have pulled the hood down farther over my forehead. Did I hear you suggest "way farther"?

Oh, by the way, happy Thanksgiving.

Could anything be more appropriate for Thanksgiving than this photo? Why? Well for one thing there's the wattle, otherwise called turkey neck.

Here's a portrait of me drawn by FX Tobin, a guy who's been teaching me some important things about painting via our email correspondence.

I liked his drawing so much I had it framed. The shadow captured in the glass is me taking a portrait of my portrait.

November 24, 2009

Orange alert

This is a photo of a neighbor's house on a pitch black night with its lights on. The camera was hand held, giving the effect that the house is on fire.
Continuing the orange theme, this is a painting by Hubert Scheibl, an Austrian painter I admire. His new show at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropak opens today. From the information I saw on the website, I can't figure out whether its at the gallery's Paris or Salzburg locations.

But I guess it's a little late to fly over for the opening.

Orange is also at play in this photo of the painting I am currently working on for my Dresden show at Bard College at Simon's Rock from January 18 to February 12.

I showed you mock-ups for the painting in my November 18 post.

What you're seeing here is the angel at the top and the prone woman, representing Dresden, at the bottom. The figures were drawn on canvas and were then cut out and attached to the surface of the painting with gesso.

The idea for the painting comes from William Blake's Pity, and the angel's face and shoulders were printed from an internet reproduction of that painting. Looking at what I've done so far, it looks like the angel needs breast reduction surgery.

For blowups click on the pictures. Top photo by Grier Horner/Protected by copyright.

November 22, 2009

In hot pursuit

I'm driving the Odyssey down Crane Avenue Friday afternoon when I spotted it coming out of Clark Road.
See it. See that yellow school bus making the right turn there out of Clark?

Who do they think they're fooling? They can't outrun us even under the cover of lowering clouds. We just had new alloy wheels with extra fast snow tires mounted on the van. So fasten your seat belts, we're in pursuit.

The bus is hotrodding it but we're gaining ground anyway. And unless the driver's willing to risk the lives of 25 kids, he (or she) has to stop at the bottom of the hill where Crane ends at North.

What did I tell you. Even if he (or she) wanted to run the stop sign, the driver was forced to come to a halt because the cars ahead of it stopped.

It's not like the movies where the desperadoes use the weight of the bus to push the cars out of the way like toys.

So here, intrepid reader, you have photographic proof that daring drivers like us always catch the bus.

To enlarge the photos click on them. Photos by Grier Horner/Protected by copyright.

November 20, 2009

Cloud quest

Sometimes you see such beauty  you are transfixed.

Before I saw this scene I'd been amazed by the clarity of the late October light and its power to transform something as mundane as a busy intersection into something extraordinary. (See my October 31 post.)

Driving home I was pulling into my road when I saw that amazing cloud over Pontoosuc Lake.

I turned the car around, drove across North Street and into the Muscle Beach parking area, and walked along the shore. I took some shots, a lot of shots. (With all that motion, I guess my claim to being transfixed falls apart.)

Maybe this was a transcendental experience. But I'm never quite sure what that means.

Click on photos to enlarge. Photos by Grier Horner. Protected by copyright.

November 19, 2009

The house where we lived

One of the most beautiful displays at MASS MoCA in North Adams several weeks ago was this tree in its courtyard. (Click on photo for large-scale view.)

I know. That shot has nothing to do with the house where we lived. But looking out a window at MoCA you can see it off Houghton Street. In the photo below its the one on top.

It is a wonderful  Victorian house with a cruciform layout and a big yard. It was our first place. Babbie and I rented the bottom floor from 1960 to 1965 for $65 a month plus heat.  Shannon and Eric were born there.

Babbie was a nurse at the hospital and I was a reporter at the North Adams Transcript.

We had some great upstairs neighbors during that time. But one couple complained because I sang or whistled in the bathroom in the morning. Stifling happiness is a bad business.

From the big window in our bedroom at night, we could see the flames of a blast furnace at Hunter Machine, located where City Hall is now. That was beautiful.

We had some pretty wild  parties there. Everyone got so smashed at one, they spent the night, sleeping where ever they could find a spot. For some reason, I slept in our car. That was before we had kids.

Going off subject again this shot of operating piping, gages and shut-off valves at MoCA is a piece of art in its own right.

November 16, 2009

Hope Gangloff takes off

The show I liked best during Gallery Quest 4 was Hope Gangloff's at the Susan Inglett gallery at 522 West 24th Street.

In a slow art market her  cool, classy acrylic paintings have all been sold.

The New Yorker on November 9 said, "This young drawing whiz shows large paintings of pretty, languid friends that are mannered and feel trendy, pleasantly." Seems pretty apt.

The large paintings are pale with splashes of color like the dog and the window scene in the one at the top. I like the way she nails expressions and find the subtle way she paints skin fascinating. Here's a closeup.
The New Yorker described the young woman below as "a plainly overqualified waitress lurching to grab a bottle of Tabasco sauce."  

The young woman in the painting in the gallery window, is almost overpowered by the red dress she has stripped off and hung on a corner post of the dock, next to her beer. She is clearly annoyed as she looks at her cellphone. At what? A text message. The number of her missing boyfriend?

The show is at Inglett through November 25.

Click on the paintings to see blowups. Photos by Grier Horner.

November 14, 2009

Drawn Together

The art critics, Charles Giuliano, in the beret, 
and Keith Shaw, hands linked behind his back. 

Drawn Together opened at the Lichtenstein last night and was jammed. Despite the date - it was Friday the 13th - everything went well. (The shot above was taken at the end stage after many had left.)

I had a wonderful time. And I think a lot of other's did, too. Many stayed for a long time.

Unless otherwise noted all the photos in this post were taken by my 10-year-old granddaughter, Riley Nichols, the official photographer of all my shows.

This is Matilda, Gae's granddaughter,
with a fashionable friend.

And this is the photographer, flash ablaze.

November 13, 2009

Tonight, Tonight

It's finished. I've worked a long time on this painting, Runway (Number 7). The piece is 6' x 4', acrylic on canvas.

This is one of two from the Runway series that I hung in the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts yesterday for Drawn Together.

That's the name of the show featuring the seven members of our art group, which has been meeting for eight to 10 years.

The reception is tonight from 5 to 7. You're invited. The Lichtenstein is located at 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The other members of the group, all accomplished artists, are Linda Baker-Cimini, Betsy Dovydenas, Barbieo Barros Gizzi, Julie Love Edmonds, Paul Graubard and Susan Hartung.

Drawn Together runs through January 9. The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5.

The other painting I'm showing is the woman with the horse with a flaming mane. You can see that one in my November 1 post.

November 10, 2009

Crashing through

Into the Crosscurrents, Christine Heller's 25th solo show, is a powerful return to abstract expressionism.

Before this new series, she had been working for about four years on paintings about the Iraq War, paintings that were often devastating and started leaning toward abstraction, a style she often used in the past.

The current paintings were done during "a year in which tumultuous shocks have thrown me into a new stage of life," Christine says. Those shocks included the death of her mother.

During this period she found her studio in Hudson was a sanctuary.

"I didn't feel afraid in the studio," she said. "I was trying to work from my feeling of freedom there, going where ever the paint took me. It felt like I was working up to a fever pitch and I just didn’t want to stop."

You can still see figurative traces in some of the new paintings. Look at the one above.

You can see the turmoil in her life during this period pouring out in the forceful images.

"I kept crashing through to new ground," she said.

This is Christine in one of two rooms filled with her paintings in the show that just ended at the John Davis Gallery on Warren Street in Hudson. Davis has a strong stable of artists and sculptors and shows them to advantage in his storefront gallery space that leads out to a sculpture court and then into a four-story mill building.

The painting below is one of Christine's smaller works in the show. She says that some of her next abstracts will be much larger.