Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It is the Hope and Promise witnessed in a new Birth.
The Miraculous envisioned in a new life; an Eternal Life.
This Glorious Gift most Generously Given.
It is the Greatest of Seasons.

Friday, December 9, 2011


He was the guy that cut off his ear, mailed it to a prostute and attempted suicide by eating his own paint.  Failure as a missionary minister led to the contempt of his parents. He was next to impossible to understand with a personality so difficult that fellow artists, friends and lovers nearly fled the presence of one they thought insane. He finally succeeded at suicide by shooting himself in his chest. Within the span of his tumultuous life he also manages to revolutionize the entire universe of painting and becomes the most revered artist of his generation. In death the painter Vincent Van Gogh leaves behind an extraordinary body of work. 

The life and works of the man are among the most written about, talked about, viewed and treasured. Works from the Van Gogh catalogue regularly sell in the millions. He remains an artist whose creations continue to reach stellar amounts at auction; yet ironically he sold only one painting during his life time.
Vincent is best known for his use of color, light and heavily loaded impasto formed compositions. He was also a formidable writer and much adept in skill and accomplishment as a draftsman.

Vincent loved to draw from the days of his childhood and he would master the form as an adult. His drawings are phenomenal in intensity and are daring feats of emotional dexterity. Contrast Vincent’s strong brutally honest pieces with the refined academics and the soft luminous works of his peers. There is a power of depth in the roughness of the Van Gogh drawings that propels his works to things so incredibly unique that he was destined for a timeless greatness.  He was also destined to remain unappreciated in his time. Only his devoted brother Theo and a few other artistic fellows including Toulouse- Lautrec and Paul Gauguin recognized his daring abilities and brilliance. The two honored Vincent with portraits that reside among the world’s most famous.

There was nothing of the fanciful in the works of Van Gogh. Vincent drew from nature; the real world but he was intent on showing both the deeper truth and emotional qualities of his real world subjects. Landscapes, everyday objects and the most common dutiful laborers were his to display. It was the stuff of real life that inspired him and he wanted to celebrate that tortured beauty of human toil, suffering, and abiding faith. The parables of Jesus remained an influenced on Vincent’s life and work long after leaving his failed ministry. “The Sower” a painting originally done by the French master Millet illustrates the parable of the same name. Vincent was so greatly influenced by Millet’s painting that he painted at least two versions of his own of the theme.  Drawings usually precede paintings but Vincent’s drawing of “The Sower” was actually done after his painting. The drawing was his effort to show greater clarity in the subject to Theo. Vincent loved to illuminate his letters to Theo with his drawings and those letters are now priceless documents. 

 In many ways Vincent viewed his work as an artist as a form of ministry. He wanted to bring a new understand of art and art’s purpose to every person and everyday life. He was in effect sowing seeds with his art work to grow, mature and blossom emotionally in our lives. Vincent wanted us to see the world as much more profound. He wanted us to appreciate this great gift of life; a thing remarkable, exuberant and grand.
Among the many phenomenal works of Vincent Van Gogh “The Starry Night” is perhaps his signature piece. It is one of his most visionary and a celebration of the grandeur of the night sky alive and pulsating with energy. The stars and moon perform in an extravagant vista above a huge cypress tree and a small village with “the House of God” at its center.   

This work even within its actual small scale; looms over many larger pieces with intensity of thought and pure unmatched emotion.  Color, light and form have come together in what is truly a master work. This painted statement is his grandest monument to nature.
Vincent’s life was a quest for meaning, purpose and an understanding of the universe, humanity, truth and his own place in it all. Ultimately he found directness and clarity in the linearity, light and form of his works. The very things that eluded him in most of his life were found in his paintings and drawings. He defined drawing in his words as “…working oneself through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do”. We stand in awe, in true amazement at this man’s work. His sacrifice was great; ultimate and we are all so enormously richer because he worked through many walls of turbulence and pain to a place of genius. We share his genius through his brilliant work; we the beneficiaries of Vincent Van Gogh.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day 2011

We have all been uniquely blessed and are uniquely thankful.  While at the same time our thankfulness is collective. Let us continue in life hopefully and faithfully in harmony with the thankfulness we focus on and honor today.

In a world rich with blessings we are greatly rewarded in countless ways and know that every treasure is really a gift and a reflection little of our own efforts. Our true rewards are from something higher and grander than we can know. We celebrate, we cherish, and we honor our life, our love and our God. We are happy. We are amazed. We are thankful this incredible day.

Thanksgiving 2010

Friday, November 11, 2011

the subject CARTOONS

“Why so serious?”  The question Heath Ledger’s Joker asks of Christian Bale’s Batman in the most recent “Batman” adventure film is something to consider. Life is grim enough and we need a good laugh or at least to see the irony of all things as an essential of survival. There is always a bright side and the cartoonist is looking for that thing that amuses even in the bleakest times and subject matter. There is a season and time for all things and humor is found in most situations especially when viewed with a little distance.

Barack & Wright

  The cartoons on this blog are originals from my archives and they range from the editorial to the simply absurd. They go back as far as the nineteen eighties and some are contemporary efforts.  I’m hoping you will be amused and able to take something from them. The worst thing that anyone can do is over analyze and often to even analyze is pointless to this art form. These “Toons” should speak for themselves as hopefully they speak to you. Enjoy,embrace, connect with them on some personal level…and at best even “LOL."

The Young Stanley Kubrick

The Artist's Ideas



Bush and Bin Laden

Death Mourns the Passing of a Butterfly

Sunday, October 30, 2011

HALLOWEEN Twenty_Eleven

Jamie Wyeth_"Self Portrait as Pumpkin Head"

It is a season of many marvels and wonders; of macabre and timeless tales. The season to dream, to celebrate, to scare is now.  Oh autumn! Oh Halloween! You are a joy to all. Certainly your sounds, tastes, climate and aromas are distinct. For many you are the best of seasons and Halloween the best of holidays. Who could argue as the grand masquerade begins in defense of any other. We enjoy it in both its strangeness and its familiar. We truly enjoy as we shiver from the spooky and the chilling in the air.

It is the images of Halloween that stand out in our minds, the visual. The first thought of Halloween is always a visual thing and every-thing is possible. As long as we dream it is the autumnal that ignites like no other. The imagination runs free as we look outward and ultimately express the inner self. Whether witch or warlock, devil or angel, lycanthrope, vampire or Frankenstein’s Monster. We can be whatever we choose on Halloween Day as long as we play in the cherished charade.

If it were possible to sum up the spirit and wonder of Halloween in a single tale Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” would probably be the one. It possesses every element of the season. The image of the Headless Horseman is among the most striking in fiction. The Hessian soldier in search of a replacement for his own cannonball removed dome haunts our psyche.

The mystery, fun and thrill of the prank are within Irving’s words. It has been read and told for generations and lives on with no loss of charm. It has inspired films, plays and songs. The above Nineteenth Century painting captures the dilemma of the story’s protagonist; Ichabod Crane, precisely. Enjoy the image and enjoy your haunting this Halloween.

Friday, October 7, 2011

30 AMERICANS @ The Corcoran

30 AMERICANS @ the Corcoran
There is something lively; something wonderful, something engaging on view at the Corcoran (DC). That something is an incomparable exhibition composed actually of 31 artists/creators. Interestingly enough this portion of the Rubell family’s art collection happens to feature works from artists exclusively of African American decent. At different times past a similar exhibition would have been titled “Thirty Negro Artist, Thirty Afro-American Artists or Thirty Black Americans.”  We are presented interestingly enough “30 Americans” because we are (arguably) in the Post-Black period of American/World history. This is a good thing; we can finally look at and perceive the works as purely esthetics or we can interject the racial/nationality factor as we choose or as the given artist chooses accordingly. These are great times indeed and this is a great exhibition!        

Iona Rozeal Brown_Sacrafice #2
courtesy of Rubell Family Collection

Rashid Johnson_The New Negro
Escapist Social and Athletic Club
courtesy of Rubell Family Collection

Among the featured are many of my personal favorites: Kehinde Wiley (the” Prince” of Painters), Kerry James Marshal (the Dean), Jean- Michel Basquiat (the Rebel), Carrie Mae Weems (the Lovely), Kara Walker (the Provocative) and Nick Cave (the Entertainer). All incredible; as magnificent as they are unique…this is what contemporary art is; art without boundaries or singular definition.

This exhibition is of a pivotal moment in history reflecting a definite shift in the way art will be viewed for years to come. Works and artists that were once marginalized are now at the fore-front and making bold statements “Saying it Loud” as is one of the many themes of “30 AMERICANS.”  The central piece of the exhibition and most talked about is Wiley’s “Sleeping” (h132 x w300in.)

Kehinde Wiley_Sleeping_courtesy of The Rubell Family Collection

This colossus of a figurative piece is magnificently rendered, exquisite in detail and equally subtle. The basis of Wiley’s work is rooted in those of Baroque Europe practically as practiced by the Spanish masters; Velasquez, de Ribera and Murillo. The same regality and grandeur is also rooted in much of the sculpture, fabrics and objects found in African pieces from the same era. Only a maestro of Wiley’s expertise and talent could orchestrate this visual symphony of a painting. It is a thing spectacular.

Jean-Michel Basquiat_Bird On Money
courtesy of The Rubell Family Collection

Carrie Mae Weems
From Here I Saw What
Happened and I Cried
courtesy of The Rubell Family

Carrie Mae Weems
From Here I Saw What
Happened and I Cried
courtesy of The Rubell Family

30 AMERICANS features over seventy works ranging from the sublime to the challenging of depiction and content; again the essence of contemporary art. Mixed-Medium, found objects, video, photography, and instillation are on view and each well represented. You will leave it enthralled and invigorated. This show can only be fully experienced in the flesh, in person. It is a very intimate thing; a thing to enjoy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The ML King Memorial

Sunday (September 11, 2011) marked the tenth anniversary of an horrific and unparelled   American tragedy. It will now also mark my family’s first visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC. To attack any part of America as on Nine Eleven Two-Thousand One is to attack all of America. Our visit to the newly   opened King Memorial was at least a personal statement expressing our American “Freedom from Fear.” Our freedoms will not be easily taken from us. There have been too many battles fought for our freedoms. Martin Luther King lived; fought and died for the freedoms of all Americans. His weapon of choice was non-violence. It proved to be a most powerful weapon. He changed the hearts and minds of men and women and won a lasting, ever vigilant peace.  We will not embarrass his legacy by hiding from any unsubstantial threat. King’s Memorial is a fitting tribute to the freedoms that others would want to deny us. 
The Pentagon was struck a decade ago in 2001 and lives were lost. Washington is a very real target. There were threats made again this year; we answered the alleged threats by visiting a very public place; The King Memorial. It was an incredible, beautiful day…it is an incredible, immaculate monument.

The strength, commitment, intelligence and character of Martin Luther King Jr. are unquestionable. He is a deserving leader. Like all leaders he was not alone in his efforts. There were many other leaders; pivotal individuals and groups working in the “Civil Rights Movements.” Thurgood Marshal ; the dedicated lawyer, John Lewis; the student activist, Rosa parks; a woman that simply had had enough and James Peck; a freedom rider. These are a few names among the countless many who were equal parts of “The Movement” and share the glory of this massive monument. If you listen carefully you can hear their voices; feel their spirits, share their victories along with those of Dr. King’s. We are thankful for their truth and bravery; we cannot say nor do enough to honor their deeds.
I have spent a few hours around the tidal basin. The tidal basin is a small inlet of water surrounded by monuments: The Jefferson, The Roosevelt, and The Korean War reside there. You will find walkways and cherry trees that blossom brilliantly every spring. The King memorial is there now. The patriotic, the faithful and the curious are lured to the tidal basin daily and especially in spring. They are the seekers of truth, life and even something of the legendary. It is as intangible as a dream yet powerful enough to move mountains of hate and injustice…powerful enough to unite us all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Masterpiece

In every endeavor there are standards and benchmarks. There are those that far surpass the ordinary; the average, even going beyond the superlative. A level of excellence, technical proficiency and mystery is reached that can only be called mastery. The masterpiece is the physical incarnation and product of such a person we call “A Master”. Albrecht Durer is without argument among the few so blessed. The German born artist has been dubbed “The Leonardo of the North.”The incredible piece descriptively titled “The Hare” is one among the many masterpieces by his hand.  A work in many ways simple; a study of a hare, a common animal. In this depiction by Durer the ordinary, the common place is brilliantly, extraordinarily uncommon. We as viewers are able to see the fullness and beauty of the drawing of a creature that could be a science text book rendering. It goes beyond mere record of detail to the brink of life itself. Durer’s water color of a hare exists within nature; it is a wonder.

In his time Durer created paintings, drawings and among his still popular works are his etchings. They are definite reflections of the standards of his times; biblical, spiritual, heroic and often mystical. The standards set by these works are each an “Everest” of a sort. Yet here are contemporary artists that are very much the peers of the “Old Masters.”

 There are artist’s today that rival and are setting their personal extraordinary standards.  Artists who are in their way daring, driven and committed to the excellence found in the natural world. Two American artists thriving now are Jamie Wyeth and Walton Ford. They each are working almost exclusively from the natural world but possessing distinctive, original voices.

Jamie Wyeth is inspired almost exclusively from his local environment and the surroundings of his much beloved Chadds Ford Pennsylvania. The rocks, the grass, buildings, buoys and even the people he knows inhabit his heart, mind, soul and canvases. Like the masters of centuries past; including Durer, he has the scientist’s eye and the poet’s heart. His works are richly done expressions of elegance found in what to others would be the mundane. The ravens that dominate the birds of his home and hungry pigs are displayed equally; gloriously on his canvases. It was actually his “Portrait of a Pig” that brought Wyeth into prominence. “The Islander” is the title of his master work featuring an old seemingly knowing ram. The ram is gazing outward toward the sea with his lush fleece seemingly to blow in the wind. It is nothing less than spectacular.

The imagination and brushes of Walton Ford are much occupied with rewriting the book of natural history. His large, life sized watercolors are from an ardent observers view with a somewhat peculiar perspective. His works include a raging rhino in it’s last full moment of life going down in a sinking ship. Passenger pigeons breaking a limb under the sheer weight of their massive numbers and disgusting acts is another Ford master work.  A personal favorite I have of ford’s is his dynamic portrait of an Aurochs Bull; an extinct European breed.  Aurochs can be found in cave paintings and are still a symbol for many European countries and communities. The Aurochs were fierce, combative animals and Ford shows all the power and brutal force; the majesty the beast must have commanded. I had the absolute pleasure of viewing this portrait executed by Ford in triptych form at the Museum of American Art in DC. The scale alone is impressive 8’ x 13’ for a style of art usually seen as illustration or in print reproduction is amazingly impressive. The attention to detail, the perspective and the drama of the work is phenomenal and rarely captured in any medium.

When we think of Durer as a lasting “Master” for the ages his legacy is pretty much assured. He has sustained for about five centuries.  As for the longevity of the contemporary worlds Wyeth and Ford…we’ll see; as we await their next great works.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak Photographed by Annie Leibovitz

The things this man has done. The enchanted, strange, wonderful things formed of his mind and hands. He has touched us all and caused us to dream. In a nutshell; his wild things go bump in the night kitchen and make every “Mommy" and child look outside…over there.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


When Daniel Craig first appears on screen disoriented, confused and disheveled we know two things: someone will be hit and someone else will be shot. He’s wearing his best angry face and about to do what Daniel Craig does on screen; Pay Back!  Harrison Ford is showing his ugly side too and we are ready for a fun time at the movies.
Cowboys & Aliens is a movie whose title tells you everything you need to know about the film. It comes down to execution and the craft of film making. Everything here is top notch; all the elements come together for an extraordinary journey.  This movie gives us cowboys, aliens, action, adventure, attitude and Indians. I’m just not exactly sure why the Indians didn’t get a credit.
We could be witnessing the beginning of a whole new genre of films. Just imagine Roman Legions & Aliens, King Arthur & Aliens, Doughboys & Aliens... endless possibilities. Enjoy this summer’s entry into the world of amazing and unusual adventures. Cowboys & Aliens is a great world to get lost in.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of Miles and Penn

Miles x Twelve

This Series of paintings beginning with “The Rose Miles” and ended with a mini-series; “Lament”, could very well be sub-titled “The Birth and Death of Miles”.  It began or was born when I went into a record shop looking to see what was being released one week in 1986. At that time albums were recorded on vinyl and displayed like works of art. Record shops were mini-galleries that I went into often just to look at covers. On that certain day I found myself walking directly into what was a portrait of Miles Davis by the emanate fashion and portrait photographer Irving Penn. 
I was shocked, amazed and thrilled by it’s starkness and directness. This incredible black and white image with no text, lettering or logo was mesmerizing. A single face filling the entire 12” by 12” span of surface was both dynamic and bold.  Without question I knew this packaging contained a great collection of music. The album was named “Tutu” for the Arch Bishop and it was in many ways Miles’ greatest feat. It is certainly as taken from within his canon among any top three list of his very best. You can choose any other personal two. “Tutu” will be there among them completing the three.

Mixed Medium Miles

I began to use this master work (Tutu) music and photography as inspiration for many of my own works to come. I started with a mono-chrome piece in what was essentially and simply rose colored. It is to date the only painting I have completed in a single day. I was starting with perfection (the Penn photo) in which everything was already there, the color and scale were my only variations. I have used my take on the Penn portrait in mixed-medium, computer graphics, animations and other paintings. Warhol had his Marilyns, Johns his flags, Rothenberg her horses. I had Miles.
There was a point in time where I felt I needed to move on to other subjects and other sources of inspiration. Picasso had painted many works featuring the character “Harlequin” during his “Rose” period. He was beginning to experiment with what would evolve into cubism and he needed to move on from the circus performers that had been so vital and healing for him. He painted an unusual work showing harlequin on his death bed watched over by family members or perhaps angels. The work was titled “The Death of Harlequin”. The last painting in my series of six black and whites titled lament loosely based on the portrait of Miles but not exactly Miles ends with a sort of death mask.


A few years ago I was exhibiting “The Rose Miles” along with a number of other works out doors. I was taking part in “The Henry Street Heritage Festival” in Roanoke Va. There were many exhibitors and vendors lining Henry Street that day; other painters, sculptors, craftsman, book sellers all showing and selling their wares. At one point a strong gust of wind began to blow. The potential for complete chaos was certainly possible. Among the multitude of objects that could have been blown from their places only my portrait of Miles was blow to the ground. It landed smack hard on the pavement with the back facing up. I walked over and picked it up hoping it hadn’t been ruined; it had not, but it was strange and even a little embarrassing. I could only question why.

The Rose Miles

This occurrence was odd and the date was September 28, 1991. Listening to the car radio on the drive home I heard; sadly, that Miles Davis had died. I don’t know but perhaps even within the same hour or even the moment of his passing my tribute had landed face down on the pavement.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Yes; Do See Green Lantern

Green Lantern; the adaptation of four generations of heroic art and narrative is showing near you in glorious 3-D. It is not to miss; especially for the “Fan Boy”. The movie as expected is a grand spectacle. The infinity of space, the universe (at least 48,735 sectors of it) unfolding in a beauty not seen since Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Yes; there were views that were that compelling. Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast as Hal Jordan. Senestro is played flawlessly by Mark Strong. It was a treat to hear Michael Clarke-Duncan voicing the brutish yet gallant Kilowog.  Blake Lively is sufficiently lovely, driven and intelligent as Carol Ferris. It’s no coincidence that her plane is named “The Sapphire” and that a news paper head line refers to her as a “Star”.  Hal’s training by Kilowog, verbal attacks and scorn from Senestro, kindness and understanding from Tomar  Re represent his fellows well. Good, evil, romance, laughs, thrills and most compelling the inner battles that rage within Hal Jordan’s Psyche. Any really good super hero movie is not about the trappings but the spirit of adventure, triumph and the power of myth. Green lantern excels.
We know aspects of our civilization’s origins trace back to the Ancient Greeks. There are many things unique to that culture. Our present day understanding of the Greeks comes from their architecture, their crafts, their sculpture, their politics and their athleticism. The Greek ideal and philosophy is expressed deeply in all of these but the greatest measure of their society, thoughts and spirituality is found in the riches of their mythology.

Every great society has a mythology and we are not without our own. Our equalivent of the ancient myths are embodied in the many worlds and incarnations of the super hero.

Originally (the late nineteen thirties/early forties) super men and women as created by Bob Kane, Charles Moulton, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were demi-gods gifted with unlimited powers, resources, beauty and virtue. This was the “Golden Age” of comics. Just a couple decades later (the early nineteen sixties) Stan lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created super people that were many times monstrous in appearance, hated by society, possessing powers they couldn’t control and the  personalities ran the gambit of types. Their real virtue was in overcoming their flaws and limitations. They succeeded by defeating the personal and societal odds against them. These super beings; heroes, were more in keeping with real life heroes. Their actions and dramas unfolding consistently closer to the real heroes of the world and the lives of the readership.  Both incarnations; the old and the new reflecting our society’s self vision at their respective times.

Green Lantern was actually one of the original super men. He first appeared in the nineteen forties and was revamped by Editor Julie Schwartz along with the creativity of John Broome and Gil Kane. This in response to a changing time and perceptions of again the nineteen sixties. The original character of Green Lantern; Alan Scott, was rooted in magic and mysticism and the new GL; Hal Jordan, was grounded in science fiction. It is a variation of the Green lantern of “The Sixties” along with the necessary updates depicted in this current film.

The Legend of the modern or “Silver Age” Green Lantern rests heavily on commitment and dedication to something greater than self as expressed in the Green Lantern oath:

All this gloriously dipicted across the silver screen along with stadium seating; surround sound, vibrant color, refreshments and air conditioning. What; you wanted more?