Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Takeaways from the Met

There are only three things demanded of a painter: to see things, to feel them and to dope them out for the public. George Bellows, July 1917

These words were my major takeaway from a day spent at the Metropolitan Museum last Friday. They were posted in large type on the wall of one of the galleries housing the amazing exhibition, American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life 1765-1915. I made a point of remembering Bellows' words because I knew a colleague of mine would have really appreciated them. I could hardly wait to find a way to share them with him--he's been in ill and not recieving visitors. That is not to be though--D. W. Bennett passed away this evening. That has left a hole in my and a lot of other people's souls. Dery was at once larger than life but humble and retiring. I think of him as the father of the environmental movement in New Jersey (and beyond). He was the heart and soul of the American Littoral Society for nearly 50 years. My feet will be leaden as I climb the stairs to the office tomorrow.

That was not the only takeaway that day. My son Tom joined me and we wandered around the galleries, checked out the baroque Christmas tree in the Medieval sculpture hall (where I usually go to draw because when the tree isn't there, neither are the crowds), and had lunch in the cafeteria. We rounded out our time together with a visit to the Vermeers and some painters of the Hudson River School in the Lehman wing.

After Tom left (he lives all the way east on 82nd Street), I spent an hour with amazing paintings of Luo Ping, an eccentric Chinese painter from the 18th century. I was delighted by his work, particularly by the album called Insects, Birds, and Beasts. These simple but elegant depictions of nature's creatures are paired with poetry written by a contemporary of Luo Ping who happened to be a well-known playwright. According to the instructive narrative provided, Luo Ping painted the images first, leaving large amounts of space for his friend to add his poems, which used nature's images to point out human foibles. Despite the space left by his artist friend, "Jiang Shiquan squeezes the inscriptions into tight blocks or improbable corners, or dangles characters like a string, or marches them at an angle like ants. The unusual placement of his inscriptions greatly enhances the album's visual appeal." (Eccentric Visions: The Worlds of Luo Ping (1733–1799)

Then it was back out into the cold--the coldest day so far this season--and back to Red Bank via two subways and the North Jersey Coast Line from Penn Station.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Red Dot Day

On Sunday, I attended the opening of Greetings from Asbury Park in (where else?)Asbury Park at The Paint Place owned and operated by Jackie Chesley, mosaic artist extraordinaire. As one of ten artists in this small works show, I was lucky enough to meet some new artists and reconnect with some I've known for a long time. Also saw some family that I haven't seen in a while and was really touched that they made the trip on a Sunday afternoon to see the show.

The day also brought what has become a relatively rare occurrence in this most recent phase of my life--I sold a painting! At the end of the show, which is at the end of the year (and at the end of the decade) my small egg tempera still life, Bread Alone, will be going to a really good home. Lou and Steve are kindred art spirits. Best of all, future visitation will be possible.

I ended the day in the very best way--with a nice leisurely dinner with my childhood friend, Janet. So, when the gallery put a red dot on the wall beside my painting, I put a red dot on the day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Greetings from Asbury Park

I'm included in an exhibition of small works at The Paint Place on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park. The show is up now but the opening reception is Sunday afternoon from 3 to 6 PM. Stop by. I have 3 small egg tempera on panel pieces in the show.