Painting: Button Tree – by My Wife

Trisha’s mom was a seamstress. She made many of her daughters’ clothes when they were little as long as the girls cooperated. Obviously high schoolers don’t want homemade clothes anymore. As seamstresses are wont to do, she collected buttons. You never know what you might need that button for. When she passed away too soon about 15 years ago, Trisha inherited the button collection. She sorted them into bins of colors and shapes, and decided to create button art.

Here is the first one: The Button Tree!

This is a 24 x 24 inch work, on a piece of plywood, with the buttons glued on it. I love how it came out. You can click on the image and zoom in for some amazing detail.

There are many, many, many more buttons. I am waiting for more button art!

Life Imitating Art

Last night we were out walking in downtown San Antonio and came across this scene in a dark corner next to the sidewalk, which requires explanation.

The bench is an iron bench. Most of its space is taken up by an iron “statue” of a person sleeping on the bench, wrapped in a blanket.

To the left of the bench is a homeless person sleeping wrapped in a blanket, almost mirroring the statue.

The man on the right is resting on the open space of the bench, his sleeping bag stashed under the bench.

Sometimes life imitates art.

New Artwork: Lath Art American Flag

I wanted to experiment with lath art, which is basically using strips of wood to make works of art. To “get my hands dirty” I set the goal of making an American flag out of wood. The materials are all simple and straight from Home Depot. Strips of wood, a plywood backing, and I cheated with the stars. I bought them in bulk precut from an Etsy site.

Once I had finished the “painting” I needed a frame, so I asked my friend Kevin in New York, who is an accomplished woodworker, to make me a frame. The frame arrived today. It’s a mahogany shadow box.

Now I still have to finish and glue the frame, varnish it, finish the flag itself and mount it. It’s meant to be outside, so I have to give it a good seal, for the frame and the piece, to keep it from drying out or absorbing moisture.

Visiting The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

On a trip to Washington, D.C., where there are more art museums than in any city in America I know, we visited The Phillips Collection.

This boutique museum holds a most incredible collection of astonishing quality. There are several van Gogh works, countless pieces by Monet and Cezanne, and above all, the most Picasso works in one place I have ever seen. There must have been more than 100 Picassos, featuring “the Blue Period” early in his career.

I can highly recommend The Phillips Collection.

Here is a brilliant van Gogh where I lingered for quite a while before I moved on:

House of Auvers by Vincent van Gogh

The Artists in my Life

Bob Dylan turned 80 on May 24, 2021. I clearly remember Bob Dylan’s 40th birthday. I have been around almost as long as Dylan, I guess.

I am reading Life Magazine’s special edition for this 80th birthday. It’s a mini biography, of course with lots of photos as you expect from Life Magazine, and as I am reading about the old songs that had such an influence on my in the 1970ies, I remember Dylan and some of the other artists in my life.

One a musician, one a composer, one a writer and one a philosopher. I painted their portraits. Here they are in chronological order:

Ludwig van Beethoven – painted in 1979, 36 x 36 inches

08/79 Oil 36×36


Henry Miller – painted in 1979, 36 x 36 inches

06/79 Oil 36×36


Friedrich Nietzsche – painted in 1980, 24 x 18 inches

 5/80 Oil 24×18

Bob Dylan – painted in 2001, 28 x 22 inches

01/01 Oil 28×22

I lost track of the first three paintings early on. I have no idea if they even still exist somewhere in somebody’s attic. But the Dylan one is still with me, albeit in a stack in the garage with all the other paintings that never got framed or rated sufficiently to be taking up wall space in our house.

I painted Dylan the year he turned 60. It seems like yesterday.

Those are the four artists in my life that rated a painting.

Featured Artist: Tatsuo Horiuchi

Tatsuo Horiuchi wanted to paint after he retired, but he didn’t want to spend money on supplies, and he didn’t want to buy a painting program. So he used what he already had: Microsoft Excel.

After using Excel for three decades myself, I didn’t know you could possibly use it to paint. I am amazed about the level of creativity and ingenuity this artist exhibits.

Dr. Seuss and High-Grade Niggers

The political right in the United States is taking issue right now about Dr. Seuss’ estate pulling back six of his books. Mind you, nobody was forcing them to do this. They did this after their own initiative.

[click to enlarge]
So check out this drawing. If you don’t see the problem with this picture, and you don’t think it’s objectionable in 2021, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

If we have people in the United States Congress who have issues with Dr. Seuss pulling back this book, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.


Picture Credit: Joseph Wu

Joseph Wu makes a living doing origami. Here is his Facebook page: Link to Facebook.

I checked his website, but it is broken right now. Here is the link, maybe he’ll get it fixed now that he is going viral with the Berniegami: Link to Joseph Wu’s website (broken site).

Big Tree Road, Lakewood, NY – 40 Years Later

On a hot summer day in July 1980, I drove up on Big Tree Road in Lakewood, NY pulled over, set up my easel in the meadow off the side of the road and made a painting of Chautauqua Lake in the background and a lone white house. It took me about two hours and I still feel the heat of the sun on my back, and I hear the insects buzzing around in the meadow while working on it.

This is a photograph of the resulting painting, which was 18 x 24 inches. The painting is long lost. I do not know who might have it today, or if it even still exists. But the photograph has been the lock-screen image on my work computer for many years now.

Big Tree Road, Lakewood, NY – July 1980 [click to enlarge]
On a whim, while browsing Google Maps, I checked out the exact spot from where I parked.
[click to enlarge]
There are trees now on the right where there was just open meadow 40 years ago on the right side of the road from where the painting was made.

But note, the two telephone poles in front of the house are still exactly the same, at the same angle, as they were in 1980. Somebody lived in that house then, somebody else lives there now, and they have no idea that their house the object of a painting, and now a blog post.

Founding Fathers and Marxism / Socialism

Today I lifted this painting from  Facebook. Here is the link with attribution and where you can buy a print.

Then, in the comments below, many people made positive references about the artist and others about what all had changed since then. Then I came across Leo Dorrington’s comment and a couple of answers:

It’s baffling to me, how there are apparently 70-some million people in this country now that think that Biden has somehow stolen the election by getting more votes than Trump.  Also, where were those 70 million people in 2016 when it turned out the other way?

But more baffling is the association of socialism with Biden. Through the Covid stimulus, the Trump administration has “given away” more public funds to the country than any before in history, probably (and I need to do the math) more than all previous administrations combined. I don’t call that socialism, I call it good use of government funds during a severe economic crisis, even though not enough went to the working class and the businesses in jeopardy. I am not blaming Trump or his administration for this. But calling Biden a socialist in light of this seems ludicrous.

Attributing Marxism to Biden is just crazy. Dorrington obviously is just throwing the word around. I bet he has never read a word Marx wrote.

But 70 million people read these comments every day on Facebook.

I have a hard time excepting [sic] that.


Visiting Arcosanti in 2020

Arcosanti is an “experimental city” in the desert about 70 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. It is a spatial experiment and urban laboratory built by more than 8,000 participants, mostly volunteers and workshop members from all around the world over a 50 year period. The first buildings were erected in 1970.

Arcosanti is focused on innovative design, environmental accountability and experimental learning. It is home to a small but vibrant community of currently about 75 people, living and working in various mixed-use buildings and public spaces.

The project was started by the visionary architect Paolo Soleri (1919 – 2013) who was the leading force behind the project for most if his life, starting in the 1950s.

You can find out more about many of the details at or, more factual, at the wikipedia page.

The first time I visited Arcosanti was in 1978, over 42 years ago. I went back a few times through 1984, but have not been back there since then. I have no pictures from those visits, only distant memories and impressions.

I remember thinking at the time that it was an interesting and admirable experiment in design and living, run but a group of hippies and idealists, but that it would never “get off the ground.” In the early years it didn’t change much.

So I was definitely interested in what I would find now in 2020.

We arrived at 9:00am on Friday morning, after a few miles off the I-17 freeway, driving down a dusty washboard dirt road through the desert. The parking lot was still empty. Our car was the only one there.

The path down to the visitor center was not too friendly, with decrepit benches and weeds that hadn’t been trimmed in years.

Here is the entrance to the visitor center.

Arcosanti makes a significant portion of its revenue from the sale of bells, both clay bells and copper bells. Prices range from $50 up to many hundreds of dollars for the larger and more elaborate ones. There are many to choose from in the gallery on the main entry floor.

We signed up for a guided tour of the entire facility, where  we saw the main buildings and learned about their use. Above is the “Apse” which is a half-dome that serves as the shop for where the clay bells are made.

Then there are the iconic arches, which is the feature that every visitor to Arcosanti will remember forever. These arches were there when I first visited, and they are still there now, and they look exactly the same, perhaps a bit more weathered and worn, but still carrying the “unfinished look” they had over 40 years ago.

Here is the amphitheater and some living quarters behind it.

Looking up, you can see the attachments for the canopy over the amphitheater that has never been completed.

More living quarters, and a greenhouse in the back.

Here is a view of the foundry, a domed building with offices and living quarters close by. The main central area is where the copper bells are poured in sand forms.

Our tour lasted about an hour and a half and ended in the cafeteria, a few levels below the gallery in the main visitor building.


Here is a view out the cafeteria window to the south.

Another view. The cafeteria also serves as a display area for artists to show and sell their pottery, jewelry, garments and many other objects.

The community attracts about 40,000 visitors every year.

The existing structures at Arcosanti are meant to begin to provide for the complete needs of a community. They include: a five-story visitors’ center/cafe/gift shop; a bronze-casting apse; a ceramics apse; two large barrel vaults; a ring of apartment residences and quasi-public spaces around an outdoor amphitheater; a community swimming pool; an office complex, above which is an apartment that was originally Soleri’s suite. A two-bedroom “Sky Suite” occupies the highest point in the complex; it, as well as a set of rooms below the pool, is available for overnight guests. Most of the buildings have accessible roofs.

— Wikipedia

Of all the buildings there, the last one was completed in 1989. This means that for over 30 years, no new construction has been undertaken and the community has not grown.

Arcosanti looked unfinished and untenable in 1978, and it still looks exactly that way now. It’s an experiment that never quite got off the ground when the founder and visionary was driving it. Now that Soleri is no longer alive, I wonder if there is enough will and stamina to keep it growing.

When Arcosanti was home to a few dozen people in 1978, I thought it would be home to hundreds, or thousands, in the years to come, as their plans indicated. That has not happened as of now in 2020.

I wonder what will happen in the next 40 years? Of course, I will never know.

But I am sure there will be an Arcosanti, baking in the Arizona desert sun, for many decades to come, and visitors will take home the beautiful bells. Here is ours, gracing our patio at home:

If you have the chance to stop by, I recommend you do so.

Quarantine Pastimes

I had a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle made from a painting of mine. I thought this might be a good one:

Painting: Red Maple

Then I started, and I realized that puzzles of paintings are much harder to do than puzzles of photographs:


Ironically, the painting itself is about 15 feet behind me in the living room above the fireplace.

I can say this for certain:

So far it has taken many more hours to just get this far in the puzzle than it took to create the entire painting in the first place.

That’s why I call it Quarantine Pastime.

New Painting: Aspens

Here is my latest painting with a story of how it came about: Aspens

Aspens, 2/20, 24 x 36 [click to enlarge]
A first draft of this painting was laying around my studio for more than a year. It was going nowhere. Then a friend (VP) asked me to sell her a painting, and I said I don’t sell, but I’d be glad to paint one custom for her. What would she like? After a few back and forth exchanges of motifs and her pointing out which of my portfolio she likes (this was her favorite), it suddenly hit me: Aspens might work. I showed her the draft, and off the project was. I kept a progress journal which you can see here.

Dead or lingering paintings have a way of coming back to life when there is a bit of motivation resulting from commitment.

Now it’s done. It’ll have to dry for a couple of months, and after varnishing and framing, it’ll be my first ever painting to travel to Australia for its new home.

The Elephant in the Room

When a painting comes back from framing, it’s always exciting, because it looks so much more finished and it stands out. This one worked out particularly well with a bamboo motif for the frame. It graces the stairway, for the time being. And that’s the Elephant in the Room for today.