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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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.

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Berniegami

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).

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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.

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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.

 

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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 arcosanti.org 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

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.

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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.

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I came across this post from 2014 and I was struck by its message again:

I am an Illiterate Polyglot

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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.

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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.

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Many years ago my friend Mike from Albany gave me a picture of himself with the Beethoven painting I gave him as a gift in the summer of 1978. I actually forgot that I had done that painting and it was like meeting an old friend again when he gave me this photograph. Then I forgot about the photograph, until yesterday, when I looked for the old photo of the Little Girl – see in post below.

So here it is:

Mike and the Forgotten Beethoven

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One of my friends asked me which of my own paintings was my favorite. It’s the Little Girl.

This request prompted me to put together this History of a Painting. Here it is:

Many people call this “Indian Boy” and I can see the androgynous nature of the painting, but for me, it’s always been the “Little Girl.” I finished it in early 1980. Until about 1998, it was with friends in upstate New York, where it spent many years in an attic before I got it back. It’s a large painting, so you have to have a large wall for it. Here is a photograph of it in my house today:

This gives you a feeling for its size. It’s three feet wide and four feet high.

Here is how it came about: In 1975, when I was an 18-year-old youth living with my parents, there was an insert magazine that came with the local newspaper, called the Mission Aktuell, a German magazine about foreign missionary aid in third world countries. The cover struck a chord in me, and I saved it at the time. This was before I had ever done a single oil painting, and I do not remember why I saved the cover, or where I saved it. It simply was with me in 1978, when I started painting in earnest.

I did a preliminary painting of the Little Girl. I have a yellowed photograph of it still, but I do not remember what happened to the painting itself and if it still exists somewhere. I lost a lot of my early paintings in my wild youth years of Sturm und Drang and associated moving around. Here is the photograph:

The coloring is off here, because the photograph is over 40 years old and those paper photos have a tendency to lose their color. But I was never happy enough with it in 1978, and that’s why I picked the subject up again in 1979. It took me about a year to finish the final form of the Little Girl, and it’s now celebrating its 40th birthday.

Of course, I’ll never know who the girl was that posed for the magazine in 1975. If she was perhaps five years old then, she would be 50 now.

I wish she could know.

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Kauai, oil on canvas, 12/19, 20 x 20

If you want to know why the title of this painting is Kaua’i, here is the story.

We spent Christmas 2018 on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. One of the things we noticed immediately was how many feral chickens and roosters there were everywhere on that island. Where do they all come from and why aren’t there any on the other islands? Here is a post with a picture of chickens in it.

The hurricanes Iwa in 1982, and then Iniki in 1992, destroyed many domestic chicken coops. This released the chickens into the jungles. The domesticated birds then mated with the wild red junglefowl that was brought to the islands by the Polynesians hundreds of years ago.

The current feral chickens have no natural predator, so they are procreating at a prodigious rate.

There is no way that you can travel to Kaua’i and not notice the ubiquitous chickens and roosters. There is no way you can spend a night on Kaua’i and not be woken up at 4:30am by a rooster outside your window. They are everywhere.

Kaua’i is roosters, and roosters are Kaua’i.

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Please note that the image on the bottom is the “Before” and the top is “After.”

Here is an article about this project, and leads for several more.

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New Painting: The Sausage Tree

Early this year my friend Sara Hartman went to Africa for a photo safari. I attended her presentation when she came back, and her photograph she had titled Sausage Tree stayed with me. It had a painting in it. I asked her for permission to use it as a motif. Here is her original photograph:

Photo Credit: Sara Lynn Hartman – Sausage Tree [click to enlarge]

Here is Sara’s website where you can see many other of her Africa photographs.

And here is the resulting painting:

The Sausage Tree, oil on canvas, 24 x 36, Nov 2019

I changed the composition somewhat. I moved the mountain (because I can do that). I also stretched the tree and made it taller. I actually didn’t intend that, but it worked out that way. I think I got the feeling of the open savannah. The painting looks better when you don’t see the original photograph right next to it. But that is always that way when you take photographs as motifs. The painting becomes something different altogether.

This is the first painting I actually started and finished in 2019. Hopefully it breaks my creative logjam. Nothing much has been coming out of the Haupt studio lately.

Well here is something: Behold the Sausage Tree.

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A few years ago when I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I saw Matisse’s Tea in the Garden, which I consider a really bad painting, and I called it such in my review.

On Wednesday at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, I had a similar experience.

Here is Milton Avery’s Two Figures (1963). There are a number of Avery paintings in that museum, but this one struck me as the worst. It’s a large painting and I consider it spectacularly bad.

Look at the drawing. The pencil outlines are clearly visible. They are crude and the artist made no attempt to make them realistic or abstract. They are just sloppy and sketchy. Then he quickly colored in the main fields. He used six colors, no mixing, and no effort to cover evenly even to make it at least look clean.

I swear, I could do this painting in 20 minutes and it would look more pleasing than this does.

I have a lot of paintings that are much better than this that are stacked in my garage, never to be seen – sometimes to be painted over to at least reuse the canvas. But Milton Avery’s Two Figures in prominently displayed in the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Somebody explain that to me!

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