EAST is around the corner: Sat & Sun November 16 & 17 from 11-6, and Sat & Sun 23 & 24 from 11-6
Some recent black and whites.
As summer ends
Alex Katz and the Erie Canal
The big blocks in the Death of My Mother sculpture have been worn over the years from use. These shots show some work we’ve been doing to restore the images on them. Rather than print the images and adhere them to the blocks, we’re painting them directly on this time. Thanks to my studio hands Michael and Amanda for their help.
News from underground
I normally don’t make time for television, so while I’m still recovering from surgery in New York, I’m getting caught up with a show that has been all the rage for awhile now here and across the pond — Downton Abbey. It is superbly acted and scripted and features a few of my favorites — Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville to name a few. We’ll hope to be back in Austin in the near future, and I’m certain all of Downton’s past seasons (and my physical therapy sessions) will get me through until then.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting some photos that friend Suzanne shot in the studio a few days before Deanna and I left Austin for my date with my hip replacement surgeon. The photos show bits and pieces of new work, and some older work I’m updating, and provide a glimpse into recent happenings there. Below are images from a new series of paintings I’m calling Introspection.
An app for that?
OK. Finally Silicon Valley is tapping into my needs. A new generation of apps knows what I want, and I want that. One is a mind-reading personal assistant. A while ago, I was asked to come back and lecture in one of the classes I taught in my years at UT Austin, and one of my topics was the robot of the future for purposes of diagnosis. My young friend with a fresh master’s from MIT in robotic engineering tells me there is work going on to produce really small robots that eventually can be injected into our blood stream and be programmed to assess our system functioning. Norbert Wiener, are you listening? Remember his Human Use of Human Beings written in the late 1940s?
Right now I could use some help in my efforts to fit a Courbet painting somewhere close to my current Ruel style of oil painting. It really doesn’t look like the original Courbet of two men breaking up large rocks into small pieces and carrying them off to others in a building project. The painting was destroyed in Dresden, Germany at the end of WWII by British bombers. The Nazis had snatched up a large cache of Courbet when they were in Paris and put them in a museum. I’ve done several different versions of the painting and am still in process with it. One such version (the latest) is pictured here with this post.
Speaking of things robotic and electronic, I am becoming a 21st Century version of the bionic man. I have new eyes through the science of cataract surgery, which almost completely took away my need for glasses; I have new hearing aids that allow me to manipulate sounds coming in to my small canal ears; and I’ll be getting a whole new left hip and some cement (maybe) in the pelvic area in a surgery that Dr. Michael Alexiades of the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC is performing next week. (An aside: My friend from childhood, Denver-based Cecil Jacobson, recently got cochlear transplants and is on his way to translating words he hasn’t heard since childhood.)
Post surgery, I’m planning on doing a second triathlon this spring with my youngest son. He just did a half marathon in Sonoma, and we were fortunate to be there to cheer him on.
In the meantime, it’s back to work on the Courbet, and there’s still no app for that.
Wishing: Farm life
Sunday was a day of rest and visiting with neighbors.
There is another family photo I took and turned into a piece, Marion Marionette. It recalls the routine of farm life and how none can get away from milking the cows every day, but still there’s time carved out to talk about the crops and other concerns.
The piece is based on a a photo of my Uncle Neal’s farm home in Iowa. A neighbor’s son has just returned from duty at the end of WWII wearing some of his uniform from the US army Air Force, and he is pictured far right almost in shadow.
Soon, the families will scatter to do evening chores — milk the cows, feed the chickens, water the garden, and check the equipment for the next day’s work.
For the past several years, I have been gathering and hand painting old family photos and other photos that reflect the post-depression era.
Growing up, I was deeply influenced by two uncles and aunts, who were farmers in Iowa. I spent many weeks with them during my summers off from school. They offered structure and caring and insisted on teaching me about the work life of the farm. My maternal grandfather lived with the two uncles and had lost his wife some years before. His Catholic faith had a powerful influence on me that I didn’t recognize until I was an older adult. This manner in which early influences may be recognized much later in life — knowing what sticks with you and makes you who you are through the course of decades — is perhaps one inspiration and reason behind the art based on old photography.
The photos are collected in my Wishing series, and while I started this series years ago, I’ve come back to it again.
The image above shows my newly reinterpreted version of Kindergarten at a much larger scale. As I get older, I find I have close feelings for the people with whom I grew up — in school, in church, and in playful times. Some of those friends and I have stayed in touch for over 70 years. The group is dwindling but still gathers for reunions every few years.
I will share some more thoughts on this series in another post or two.
Best to you,
At 80, I often feel life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over… . Perhaps, with luck, I will make it, more or less intact, for another few years and be granted the liberty to continue to love and work, the two most important things, Freud insisted, in life.
A fun read on getting to 80, and then some.