Wednesday, April 30, 2008


So April ends. I put up close to 140 pages of drawings in the sketchbook section of my website this month. This sounds like bragging- and probably is- but by now you know that I am a small man, a weak man.

May's first entry will need to wait until the 5th- (Cinco De Mayo!) as I am going to San Luis Obispo for the weekend.
Patty and I will be attending the reception for my show at the SLO Art Center- if you're in the neighborhood- please drop by and say hello. I will be interviewed for the event on the local Public Radio Station, which, they tell me will be streamed and pod-cast, later. (I'll post the information, here, when I know.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Cancer Patient Mows the Lawn

I have realized many things. The truly gorgeousness of the world of thoughts all existing, one alongside the next, simultaneously. My neighbor mows a small patch of grass on the parkway in front of her townhouse. She has tended this lovingly, carefully. She put out signs saying "keep dogs off grass!" (no "please," and the exclamation point is mine- as if it needed one but did not have it.) And, while it is true that the grass looks good- it will not last in this pristine state, once she is no longer there to care for it.
I think this is an act of grace and dignity- aside from also being a bit of an existential joke- that wants to be taken seriously. But I bristle with a slight indignance when my little dog and I walk by.
My little doggie wishes to piss in the blue, lovingly tended grass- but I restrain her- moving her along to the next house- at least for now.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Defacto in German- but also an god (small g) which (not who) starts the universe, then dissappears. Which dovetails nicely with my vision of the religion of Adam and Abraham and Moses beginning and ending with, "Let there be light!"
Another recent vision: the creation of a new religion based on Phillipino Television game shows in which fortune, immortality and grace are truly only the turn of the wheel.
Falling is a warning.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The Circus comes to town and the King loves the Circus. The law becomes suspended and the stonings may well end, for a brief time, anyway.

Control is a debatable illusion except in the hands of the big guys- and they fuck up everything, do they not?
So, put on your masks and smile.

Monday, April 21, 2008

American Dream

There seems to be a new pessimism afoot throughout the land. A state that feels as if we were all in some free fall- not falling, but not flying, either. Patty and I went to the movies and saw "the Visitor" yesterday. (If you want to see this film, don't read any more- I'm going to give the "ending" away- sort off.) It was a film about a good-hearted illegal alien couple (Muslim) being taken in by a good-hearted American widower-college-professor. Then the Muslim gets arrested and deported. That's it. That's the movie. There was no resolution, no end, only the yawning, gnawing present.
There were a lot of trailers for coming art house movies at the beginning, and they all had the same atmosphere. Ambiguous, ambivalent and no promise of a resolution. The feel-bad movies of the year. I think it is the times we live in- and I think things are going to get worse before they get better. Time to head for the center of the boat, those at the gunwales are starting to get their feet wet.
There was a Governor from Texas who opposed the distribution of Spanish-language bibles in the prisons. He said, "if English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!" (quote from Christopher Hitchen's "God Is Not Great")

Saturday, April 19, 2008


What practices among us are wasteful? What practices might we live without? Is it possible that the words that come from our mouths then form the attitudes that lead to our ruin? Or is it the other way around?
Armageddon seems to me to be a metaphor for the actual final process of individual life- yes there are trumpets- but if I am dying, I am the only one hearing them- might I come back from the dead to proclaim the great nothing?
When I speak to my very old friend and he seems distant and unfriendly- I remember what Oscar Wilde said, "you don't need to be nice to people when you are dying."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

If Everyone Understood Everything, There Wouldn't Be Any History*

(*Peter Schjeldahl- "the Happy and the Unhappy")
The line that is the title of this entry is from one of my favorite pieces of writing- "the Happy and the Unhappy" I can't do justice in describing it, only to say that if you wonder if you are a happy person or not, you should read this. It probably won't clear anything up for you- but it will be entertaining. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to find- I know that Harper's reprinted it some years back from an arts journal called Parkett(sp?) .

I am contemplating a new project, prompted by a conversation with a colleague. I am considering undertaking a large painting- say 7 feet by 10 feet- and documenting every major step along the way, from composing to execution and revision.
If I do this, I will also keep a separate blog and document it there. The project would probably start in June with a deadline of October. Hmmm,....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Doodles and Other Lies

These are doodles from a meeting I attended a couple of weeks ago- Sometimes images will arrive by surprise- unbidden, but, none-the-less, most welcome.

Usually these surprises are not so much the result of a conscious wish or thought, but the flowering of an impulse that I may have had days, weeks or even months previous to their arrival-
Although the details may seem somewhat "mannered" or self-conscious, (and, I admit, many times they are,) they are just about the only way I feel successful at story-telling.

Of course, anytime my lips are moving, I might be lying.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Magna Visium

According to Dewey: "There are transient and there are enduring elements in civilization. The enduring forces are not separate; they are functions of a multitude of passing incidents as the latter are organized into meanings that form minds. Art is the great force in effecting this consolidation. The individuals who have minds pass away, one by one. The works in which meanings have received objective expression endure."
What happens to the individuals without minds? It seems, sometimes, as though they also endure, like art.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


In discussions with my students, I am struck by how we may have only a partial understanding of form. Most often, students regard form in art as simply "shape". I may be wrong about this-(if so I have been operating under a faulty assumption for nearly forty years,) but I regard form as so much more.
It is the mass and volume- the space that something takes up, as well as its outline. In the most satisfying of instances, this form will emerge from the nothingness of the shadow, the surface or the smoke (sfumato) of a painting-
But form may also be the capsule that enables meaning to operate temporally, carrying it through time- in a continual cycle of tension, compression, extension and expression.
Yesterday, a baby girl was born in a small village in India. She has two faces. It is said that the villagers regard her has the reincarnation of a Hindu Goddess. Happy Birthday, little one.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Carry That Weight

The journey is long, Brother, and the road is sometimes difficult, but when someone reaches the end, you think, "what's the alternative?" It all boils down to the cacaphony of banging on pans with sticks in a futile plea for some sense of significance. Dr. King was murdered 40 years ago, yesterday. As part of the rememberance, NPR had an interview with one of his colleagues. When asked if they had any notion of the future importance of King, the Rev. Lowery said, "no, Martin was just a regular guy with a great sense of humor, who liked to tell jokes and sit around chewing the fat,.."
So, who knows what the turn of the wheel will deliver? We all seem to have several hats that, more or less, fit. Some more comfortably than others- some we wish we could throw away.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Many Worlds

It is the beginning of April and supposed to rain today. There is much to do in advance of an open house for this weekend, but I feel little motivation to do any of it. In addition, on Monday a curator comes to pick up a bunch of stuff for a show- and, while most of the preparation for that is done, there are still many nagging details to be attended to- and I'm just not a detail-guy.
But still, there are many ways to see the same thing- failure/success, happiness/unhappiness, growth/regression- all flip sides of the same coin- what do we call that alloy where the two metals meet?
What is chance? Preguntes? Doubt is useful, if not over-relied on- otherwise it can become narcotic, don't you think?
Where is that point where my skin becomes yours and vice-versa? Is there a beyond where skin no longer matters?
I will have my studio open on Saturday and Sunday- in Los Angeles. Please feel free to come by and look at what I do- introduce yourself.