works in progress

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Robo Remembers

This painting is half lifesize.   It has some of the thickest textures I've ever painted with.   The original inspiration for me is this drawing...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

1983, New York Daaz, and Now

The other day, I ran into someone whom I had never met before, but who nonetheless triggered multiple trips down memory lane. We were meeting through a mutual friend, but it turned out that our lives have had numerous other points of near contact. For example, she was a grad student in painting at Yale when I was an undergrad painting student there, so we were in the same building, had teachers in common, knew some of the same scuttlebutt, etc..
painting by former Yale faculty painter Roger Tibbetts

She now teaches painting at the Cooper Union in NYC, while I had an internship at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in 1983, an institution that grew out of the Cooper Union and then separated...

 And so on.

 That summer  I was at the Cooper Hewitt was an important summer for me as a developing artist. It was important for me -- as an artist who grew up in the  provincial Boston art world -- to experience the raw energy of New York City. While the experience didn't change me in any obvious way, it deepened my commitment to my art while also deepening my inner turmoil.

I don't remember the name of the Cooper Hewitt curator who was my supervisor that summer, but he was a very compassionate gentleman.  I think he realized right away that I was an artist, not a researcher, not a real museum intern, and he said nothing when I mostly disappeared,  walking the streets of New York City during the day and painting at night.  I felt terribly guilty and I tried to force myself to spend hours in the library 'researching' color (and I did actually learn a lot about color that way), but I couldn't keep myself from doing what I was really there to do...

my best painting that summer

I often think of that old gentleman very fondly.  He never confronted me and gave me only kind words and encouragement.  He could have crushed me but he just let me go and do what I needed to do.

So many things stood out for me that summer.  I briefly dated one of my fellow interns.  No one had ever dated me before.  I didn't dare believe that she actually liked me.   She took me to see breakdancing next to the Hudson River.  Wow.  These guys just laid some cardboard down on the sand in some kind of abandoned area surrounded by chain link fence and did things I'd never seen or imagined.
I shared a room in a frat with a young man who really  seemed to be on the make.  I'd never meet anyone so brash before.  Another guy in the house, a frat guy staying in the house over the summer, told me that Andy Warhol had ruined his life.  People often talked to  me like a priest in those days, which was funny because that is what I had wanted to be before I decided I was an artist.

I tried to be compassionate, but at the same time I felt annoyed, much like the older brother in Saturday Night Fever who has left the priesthood in order to try to find himself but who still is treated like a priest by everyone.  I felt like I was expected to care about everyone else's needs while no one seemed to care about mine.  Actually a lot of people cared about me, but I couldn't see who they were.

I remember stepping over a dirty, drunk old man somewhere near the Bowery along with hundreds of other busy New Yorkers and wondering what kind of person this made me.  I asked a police officer if there was any help to be had and he laughed at me.  I promised myself that my art would never turn a blind eye to such questions...  
Most influential to me, I suppose, was the graffiti I saw everywhere.  The subway trains especially, of course, were literally crawling with calligraphy.

Without a doubt, this was art as revolution.  Part of the revolution was Keith Haring's subway art...
All these things affected my work, but mostly via scenes of urban desolation, isolation, disconnection and connection...
The way I explored these themes was in line with the work of the Boston Expressionist School, and that continues to be the case today.  That was really true from the moment I took up a paint brush, almost...
Only recently have I tried to grapple with influences of that summer, ranging from color theory, to break dancing, to Keith Haring, a bit more blatantly...
color block neighborhood

dance of pain and self discovery


Last word, Keith?