Friday, September 14, 2007

Invoking the Muse?

A couple of weeks ago, I watched I'm Your Man, a 2005 documentary about Leonard Cohen by documentary filmmaker Lian Lunson.
I've been a Leonard Cohen fan since I was a kid, when moved by a fit of adolescent emoting, I wrote the lyrics to his song
Suzanne on my bedroom wall. Fast forward some 35 years later, and I'm still a fan, though no longer scribbling on my walls; I paint on panels now.

While watching this beautifully produced film, I was amazed at the wide range of emotional/intellectual responses I had to the performances, the interviews, the poetry being read/spoken, and the storytelling. Pretty intense, with many moments of the film still resonating for me. As I work, I continue to reflect on the poetry and music of Leonard Cohen, and I've noticed subtle changes in my painting process. Letting things happen more instead of making them happen. Paying more attention to the inner places I am allowing myself more access to. Reworking some paintings that I was just sure were done until after I lived with them for a while and until after I watched I'm Your Man. More sensitivity to the nuances and subtletiesof each movement. Mindfulness.

I've not gone so far as to listen to Leonard Cohen's music or poetry while I'm working. I don't know if there is a male muse, but I am allowing memories of certain moments in the film to take up residence. So, time will tell if I have indeed invoked the muse...whoever that might be.

Monday, September 3, 2007

More raw images

Blind Contrast

Smashed Wire


These images were sent to me by Michelle Marcuse to be included in my series of what I think of as found imagery. Michelle often focuses her work on the "small overlooked pieces" of daily life. From the group of photos she sent me, I chose the black and white images, finding them especially striking in their austere palette and how that transforms these seemingly mundane subjects far beyond the commonplace.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Time may change me
But you can't trace time

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I'm going through

I have found myself thinking of David Bowie's lyrics lately. Ch-ch-ch-changes indeed. I am quite aware of what I'm going through. Here is my bulleted list of transitions:

  • I have new a studio that will increase my painting space considerably. It was built this week, on Thursday, August 30. The construction of my outbuilding is complete, but the HVAC needs to be installed, the walls insulated and painted, and the floor covered. I should be able to move in by the end of September. I'm currently working in an 8 x 10 space in a room with a peaked roof which makes the walls about 4 feet high. I can only stand up in the middle of the room, and it's difficult for more than one person to be in the room at the same time. I bump my head frequently. We call it the Nun's Room.
  • Wednesday, August 29 was my 26th wedding anniversary. I made lobster risotto and we had a nice bottle of wine.
  • I've been working with oil as a little break from encaustic and a break from the heat. It's been nice. I miss the wax, but I feel like I'm spreading my wings. My work is changing. I'll post jpegs of the work soon.
  • In less than two weeks, I'll be 50. 'Nuf said.
  • On Tuesday, August 28, I got my clinical social work license; I am now a therapist with full licensure.
  • Since February '07, I've been painting full-time. I am now looking for a job. Going back to work will be a big change.
  • It's the end of summer.
  • I've been making some really nice new friends.
That's all for now.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Vincent Romaniello's Outtakes

Two Women

Street Barricade 2

Mixed Pavement

Red Windows

In response to my earlier post on Vernacular Geometry, Philadelphia artist Vince Romaniello sent some jpegs of video stills from around the city. (Thanks Vince!) These are as is and include titles. He calls them outtakes, and mentions that while he always keyed into these kinds of images, it wasn't until he started shooting videos of artists that he started collecting the stills.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dave Foss & Michelle Marcuse at Gallery Siano

Dave Foss

Movement Over Time
Michelle Marcuse

Present Tense is the two-person exhibition of paintings and works on paper at Siano Gallery in Old City. Sharing the grand exhibition space are two Philadelphia artists, Dave Foss and Michelle Marcuse. Both are active in Philadelphia's arts community: Foss is the executive director of the Da Vinci Art Alliance, which has a 76-year-long history; Marcuse teaches and provides workshops in various encaustic techniques in her Kensington studio.

For both artists, these current bodies of work represent shifts and new directions in their processes. In a brief talk at last night's opening, Foss spoke of his work, which was created in 2006-2007, as a departure from the staining and pouring of paint onto the surface that had been his metier for some time. For this body of work Foss returned to the brush, incorporating line into his colorful, layered, well-worked surfaces. Foss uses the web-like network of line in Immersion to provide order against the chaotic layers of paint, resulting in a sense of tension, perhaps referencing the shared title of the exhibition Present Tense.

Marcuse, well versed in numerous encaustic techniques, presents here a wide range of processes; what she speaks of as a new direction for her is the introduction of digital imagery into the paintings. The resulting imagery and combined processes both confront and draw the viewer in with apparitional allusions hiding in and around opaque and transluscent areas of pigmented wax. Marcuse captures the idea of the raw, ugly beauty of an urban life, working the wax to suggest layers of decay and corrosion. The digital imagery is often presented in muted earth tones with vibrant pinks or blues playing against it, as in Movement Over Time.

This exhibit of paintings and works on paper covers a lot of ground -- emotionally, formally and in the materiality of the work. Foss looks at existential, universal issues on large canvases. Using a smaller format,including a series of near-miniature monotypes, Marcuse studies the overlooked, the easily missed "small overlooked pieces" of her world. One need not have a personal acquaintance with the artists to gain a sense of the intent and purpose behind the work. A dialogue is evident between the two artists; working organic and intuitive against hard edge and geometric, perhaps working in balance and harmony, but each with a distinctive voice to assert some order or control over the elements in life that cannot be wrangled into submission.

August 23-September 22, 2007
First Friday: September 7 6:00-9:00 pm

Gallery Siano
309 Arch Street

Friday, August 17, 2007

vernacular geometry

Inspired by Joanne Mattera's recent blog postings of urban color and geometry photos, I'm putting my own photos of what I've come to think of as "vernacular geometry" out here.

These were taken over the past few months in the Old City area of Philadelphia whilst on a gallery-hopping expedition with my buddy artist Michelle Marcuse. See her work at She's an artist working in encaustic and photo transfer, so we collected some other digital photos images of "vernacular" light.

Joanne says she's been snapping these kind of images for a long time, and I know I have. I figure other artists who do not work primarily in photography must be doing the same. I'm hoping others will post their "vernacular" imagery here as well.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Deluge (Red/Gray)
Pam Farrell 2007
24 x 24 encaustic on board