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?