Monday, February 1, 2016

slow swirl

Snow falling.  Not here at all.  But it is in other parts, like in my memory of a winter when I spent the evenings reading James Breslin's biography of Mark Rothko.  I needed that snow to fall, for the sky to darken, so that I'd come to a better understanding at that time of how Abstract Expressionism happened.    


Rothko and DeKooning and their pals were my heroes due probably to a childhood visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.  You see, the gallery space devoted to the avant garde at that time was still loyal to Abstract Expressionism.  The earlier abstract work was mostly European, more formal, and down the hall.  These Europeans felt small to me.  They felt grey under the influence of world wars.  The A E by contrast felt angry and free.  And by the time I'd begun creating my own abstract paintings that winter of 1997 I'd realized how little I knew about the artists beyond what was described in Art History books.  And well, I loathed then like I loathe now all Art History books.


To learn about Rothko was for me to learn about them all.  Rothko chose to be a painter.  Others thought he was wasting his talents.  He painted whenever he could, with whomever he could.  He tried mimicking what his master, Max Weber, instructed aspiring painters to do.  This took him far, as can be seen in the image at the top.  But it was during a middle life year after many attempts in varying directions that he paid closer attention to what and how children paint (he taught a children's art class).  Painting became a question of how orange would look next to red.  Painting for Rothko no longer aspired for complexity and instead led him thru a discovery of much simpler, more authentic questions of play.


I'm pleased to announce that Gallery Shoal Creek of Austin will be hosting a solo show of my newest work in oil.  Yes, it will include some recent watercolors.  The show's opening will take place on Friday, April 22nd.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

the empire

When my grandparents' families emigrated to the US over one hundred years ago, they arrived from Poland and Croatia.  


Leaving what was at that time Silesia (southern Poland) and Croatia (Hungary) my relatives were citizens of the Crown lands of Austria.  They were disgruntled.


Simon Winder's Danubia and a book series entitled A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor together paint an interesting picture of central Europe before World War I.  My fascination with this part of Europe is a natural, almost effortless extension from my family.  This is one level.  


I  am interested in other things effortless.  The way an empire lays out a city over time.  The way we navigate them.  The manner in which I construct my work (the concept that, on a good day, economizes time and effort).  The way work can no longer seem like work.

This entry is dedicated to my mother's parents, Louis and Kay, who took such good care of me and who demonstrated the contentment found in simple living.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

garble

When it no longer appears to me as something that I'd have conceived, then I know it's turned the right corner.


Andi St.Leger, my dear spouse, is running for district judge of the 421st district court. (Wow.)  The campaign became most real just this past weekend as I drove her around a corner, literally, in a convertible thru a parade.  What makes it or anything real, and not surreal I wonder, could simply be the point when the experience detaches from what was to be expected.   Suddenness.  Athletes often describe their experiences as beyond words.  Probably wise.


Working toward that point when the painting looks like something I wasn't originally working toward. 


Herein lies the challenge to a commission.  In this scenario I'm expected to paint what is supposed to resemble my paintings.  Fortunately, there are those gracious commissioners who encourage me to work in the manner I see fit.  Pheww.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rutting Ridge


The light changes always, but it's never as intoxicating as it is now, in autumn.   


When I first arrived at Budapest's Keleti train station in 1997, the city was deep in autumn.  And I was defenseless.


Anticipation of a new school year.  Or just anticipation.  The body's memory activates to smell and to the angle of the sun. It is being signaled to: it's time to harvest.




In celebration of the grape, I'm proud to announce the debut of a spectacular wine, Rutting Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.  They have commissioned me to create artwork for their labels. Bottles and cases will be available for purchase online next week. En bonne santé.




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

(civil war?)

It's been recommended to me that I spread molasses around my yard.  Something about supporting the organisms in the soil.


And because my children's school does not teach the history of the civil war (or any wars) I have been pondering if/how/when to introduce the subject on my own at home.


We watched the blood moon eclipse on Sunday (civil war anybody?).  This after the autumn equinox that marked the even divide of hours between day and night (civil war?).


In nearly every painting I employ a new device or revisit an old one anew.  To many it might all appear as a single vision (i.e. cityscape) but its practice is a constant experiment.  I go thru a painting's steps when I run and when I sleep.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

autopilot

The unusual noise came from my van's muffler.  The noise meant an opportunity to visit the muffler shop I pass every day.  Visiting a muffler shop is not as bad as visiting the dentist, so Yeah.  But the anticipation is so completely grey and unspectacular, which is why I was surprised to find myself enjoying it.  I only wished the work would have required more time.  Finished already, are you sure?


By the way, where I live could be described as one of those towns that you pass through and wonder who'd choose to live there.  Forgettable.  And since I excel at forgetting, it often feels like home sweet home.  No, I often do not paint my immediate Texas surroundings.  I opt instead for fleeting glimpses along migratory journeys thru a perpetual "elsewhere".  I live here and separate my life and work.  Don't ask me any more.


When I stepped into the muffler office to pay I took notice of two things: Gilligan's Island on the television and prominently displayed photos of family athletes.  I chose to ask the clerk about the photos.  She described with excitement the prospects for her son's upcoming senior year baseball team.  A new coach.  How her son has played since age 4.  Where he'll attend college.  His brothers and sisters and their interests as well.  And maybe more.


This is the type of experience where externally I am occupied, as if I were buckled into a seat on a plane along for the ride with a programmed destination.  In this case, my muffler is being repaired and I must sit here and wait.  Because the "what am I supposed to do right now" is hushed, I can more simply enjoy being.


As I drove my van out of the muffler shop, the repairman said, "thank you, good man".  It was the single most enjoyable muffler repair I'd ever had.  And I look forward to my next visit.  Note: this muffler shop probably exists in your town too.  If not, I recommend doing multiple laundry loads at a laundromat or waiting in a long checkout line at your grocer.

This entry is in honor of Oliver Sacks and Wayne Dyer.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Are you sure you want to quit?

Aboard a transatlantic return flight I peer between the seats at a fellow passenger's computer screen.  It asks, are you sure you want to quit?  Take it out of context and this becomes a question that I carry with me every year to Hungary.  


It is a place where I decided years ago to be a painter.  Not to become a painter, but to explore being who I already am, which is to say someone who walks out to the field and orchard behind the house, who can sense an abundance that speaks of the closeness to nature, what and all we should ever want.  It is a tree that blends into the earth.


If I didn't paint I would farm like my neighbors.  They live and mix with the land and animals in a way that is dynamic and that breaks thru the surface.  They dig into nature and cook from it.  My son and daughter eat wild strawberries (szamoca) along their path.  The windows to the house are closed during the day and open wide at night.


Quit what?  Anything that does not make me free, anybody that is too small.  Pursuing what does not matter.  Enough, let this conversation be over for now.