Saturday, November 26, 2005


The following is a journal entry I wrote 18 years ago. It appears here just as it was written:

Thurs. Feb. 19, 1987

I may be leaving GNC soon. If I can find another job, that is. I'm getting tired of the long commute from South Philly to Willow Grove. On top of that, I get paid every two weeks and with the money I'm making, it isn't worth the trip. It's definitely time to move on. To what? The main considerations at this point are being paid on a weekly basis and not having to travel so far. And of course a good salary would be nice.

Where is my life headed? Good question. Right now I'm considering a career in art. I know it sounds crazy as shit but that's where my heart is. Looking at it realistically, I know what odds I face in terms of making a living. I'm looking to the possibility of teaching, for a start anyway.

I've tossed the pros and cons of the situation around for a long time and I've decided that the only way to find out firsthand is to get in there and find out what it's like. Who knows it may lead to something great.


Reading that passage while flipping through one of my old journals made me smile and laugh out loud. It's the first time I'd written anything about wanting to pursue an artistic career. That's pretty significant because before this passage, I don't think I talked about it to anyone other than my high school art teacher, Richard Segal. Considering that I did take that leap of faith to "find out what it's like" and where that road has led me, I'm more than happy that I committed these thoughts to paper.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sum Of All Parts

I'm heading out to the studio soon to get some work done and deliver a painting to the gallery. There's a group show happening next week, so I'm glad I got something done before the holiday hit. I'm going to work on a couple of small works on panel, also. Bridgette's hanging the new show this Monday.

November 16, 2005
Philadelphia, PA - The Bridgette Mayer Gallery is pleased to present a group exhibition of new works featuring all Gallery artists. "Sum of All Parts" will run from November 30, 2005 - January 14, 2006 with an opening reception First Friday, December 2nd from 6-8:30 p.m.

Sixteen artists will be featured in the show: Elyce Abrams, Neil Anderson, Allen Bentley, Mark Brosseau, Deborah Caiola, Kate Davis Caldwell, Jean Gaudaire-Thor, Clark Gibson, Robert Godfrey, Dana Hargrove, Chris Lyon, Tim McFarlane, Franck Moëglen, Deirdre Murphy, Rebecca Rutstein, and Alexis Serio. The exhibition will explore the relationship between the forms, themes, and techniques of this diverse range of contemporary artists.

Thirteen artists will exhibit new paintings. Clark Gibson will show works that survey the components of urban structure through abstraction. Tim McFarlane will also contribute paintings that explore the urban environment; abstracted grid systems reminiscent of maps and city architecture. Neil Anderson will show work of more traditional abstraction as he investigates the elements of painting - color, texture, and surface.

Deirdre Murphy's paintings move between abstraction and realism to express nature within an urban space. Franck Moëglen also works through representation and abstraction. He modifies common signs and symbols with layers of paint until the image becomes as diffuse and immaterial as a memory. Evidence of memory is also crucial to the work of Alexis Serio who will be exhibiting a large landscape painting. Serio examines the memory of landscape and movement of light through representation and abstraction.

Mark Brosseau will show work which investigates space in a different sense, focusing on the movement, experience and 'visual play' of painting. Jean Gaudaire-Thor also investigates abstract painting as an outlet for visual play. Inspired by primitive art his paintings express the diversity of the human experience.

Two artists explore relationships through more representational means. Robert Godfrey's bold paintings of lovers are indulgent in gesture and celebrate the rituals and mythology of relationships. Allen Bentley paints the small conflicts and reconciliations of human interaction with a palate of vibrant colors and images of lively dancers.

Deborah Caiola also paints figures, but explores portraiture from a background of anthropology. She expresses the unique personalities of her subjects while also investigating the broader issue of an individual's place in society. Dana Hargrove also examines, with more abstract colors and forms, how the individual functions within the community. She studies the processes of disconnection and reconnection.

Elyce Abrams and Kate Davis Caldwell will both be exhibiting work recently completed through the Vermont Studio Center Residency program. Abrams explores elements of everyday life through an abstract vocabulary of marks, colors, drips, and forms. Davis Caldwell recreates forgotten histories by placing vintage images within a new context of painted forms and organic landscapes.

Chris Lyon and Rebecca Rutstein will both be exhibiting drawings and works on paper. Lyon will show a large charcoal drawing flickering with the suggestion of human bodies and interactions. Rutstein incorporates themes of geology and interpersonal relationships in her work and will be showing a series of graphite drawings.

An animated video by Brooke Steytler entitled 'Factory Man' will also be on view in the Gallery's vault room.

"Sum of All Parts" will run through January 14, 2006. The artist's will be present at the opening reception Friday, December 2nd from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11-5:30, other days by appointment. For additional information please contact Bridgette Mayer, 215.413.8893 Fax 215.413.2283

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Green, again...

I can tell that I'm really coming out of my artistic 'down time'. At work, I have moments where I can relax for a bit between customer calls, employee needs, and figuring out how to deal with whatever has broken this time. I had one some time today, outside of lunch, where I was able to grab my sketchbook out of my bag and doodle a bit. I did a few thumbnail sketches of possible compositional ideas in square and rectangular formats. That's what I do in my sketchbooks for the most part. I also write in them, but for the most part, page after page is filled with squares and rectangles full of off-the-cuff painting ideas. So, today's little five minute sketch session was accompanied by a mental, "Yeah, I'm ready to work again".


I was in the office at one of the desks that all the managers share. I plopped down into the gray, cushioned chair that's been darkened by years of use. I took my sketchbook out of the bag and glanced at the last day I'd done anything in it. The date in the upper left-hand corner read: 9.20.05. That's just over two months ago and during the last week of my show. That was the day that I decided to jot down any ideas I had for a possible series of paintings. To the left of the date was this: A SERIES OF PREDOMINANTLY GREEN PAINTINGS. I tend to use all upper-case lettering when I write with a sharpie(ultra-fine point). If I try to write in cursive long-hand with them, it just looks like a mess and I sometimes have a hard time deciphering what I just wrote) Note: See this entry for earlier discussion of this idea

I also made a list to go along with the 'green paintings' sentence. I wrote down all of the words that came to me within a few minutes that have some association with the word 'green':


There was a second column, but this illustrates the idea well enough.

I'd been thinking about a 'green' project for a while before committing this list to paper. A few of the paintings that I'd worked on for the September show had various greens worked into the final images. I gained an affinity for the greens I'd mixed and thought that it would be interesting to try making near monochromatic paintings based around 'green'. I'm still considering it and as soon as I pick up more supplies, I'll get to work on it. If it doesn't work out, I'll just move on to the next idea I have. Oh, yes, there are more...

I think I like the color so much because it reminds me of life and growth. I'm surrounded by plants in my living space and, despite being a hard-core city person, I love the outdoors; forests, hiking, trees, grass, all of it. I can continue to explore the loose grid imagery I've been working on over the past year and I can work on some more minimal pieces as well. Now that I have a basic theme, I can dive into painting and have something to challenge myself with again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

give and take

I'm reminded of just how good I have it when I talk to people about my art life. I'm living the dream that so many have, namely, being able to do what your heart desires. Choosing to continue with a creative life isn't always easy, nor always fun, but I can't think of anything else that I'd be as enthusiastic about working at. It's the one area of my life where I derive the most pleasure and happiness from. I never feel so alive as when I'm in the midst of painting or doing something else creative. Even if what I'm working on is turning out to be complete shit, I still experience an intensity of feeling that I don't really experience in other areas of my life.

The feelings are often indescribable. I've told friends that even though I don't smoke, there have been times when I've been so caught up in what I'm doing that I feel like I need to smoke or do something to disperse some of the energy that builds up during a painting session. The intensity of focus is what causes that reaction. I can feel the adrenaline rushing through me when I'm really caught up in a painting. Sometimes, it can feel like having sex, at others, more like being in a physical competition against others or the clock. The only difference with me is that most of the activity is taking place mentally. The physical component of painting, for me, isn't that dramatic. At times, it is, but there's a more measured mix of the mental and physical for me as a painting develops. I know I'm much more physically engaged in how I apply paint and other materials in the begining of a work than later on.

The point at which the mental begins taking precidence over the physical is never the same, but it does occur. There's a point where I scrutinize the formal decisions about color, compostition, forms, etc... much more intensely than when I started the piece. At what point in the process this occurs is different every time, but it always happens. I usually refer to that point as when "the painting begins to tell me where it wants to go". Every painting has it's own life. While I might start off with a general idea of what I want to do and achieve, there's always a point where a dialogue begins to take shape; there's more of a 'push/pull' relationship happening between myself and what's going on with the images and forms on the canvas.

It's give and take, as is the ideal in other areas of life. Every decision or mark I make on the canvas affects everything else I've previously done and what comes after.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

getting back to it

I'm returning to work in the studio this week. I feel that it's time to move on with some new work, plus, I really have the itch to create again. The past few weeks of 'exhibition recovery' have been really good for me. There were plenty of times when I thought I should have been in there painting away, but to tell the truth, that was just me feeling guilty for not wanting to be in there at all.

One of my challenges in life is maintaining some sort of balance between my social/personal life and my art life. The two meet often, but usually, one suffers when I attempt to bolster the other. In recent weeks, I've taken on expanding my social circle a bit by becoming acquainted with new people and actually spending time having face-to-face conversations, going to dinner parties, and making time to spend with the friends I already have, as well. I'm enjoying this time, because I know that once I begin painting regularly again, people won't be able to find me so readily. Even though I have a cell-phone, I can keep it turned off until I'm ready to talk. I refuse to become a slave to it.

I love painting and being creative, in general, but I also have a need to make sure I stay connected to people, as well. There are and will continue to be times when I hole up in the studio and will rarely go out, it's inevitable. The trick is adapting and continuing to find ways to have something of a balance between the demands of my art marriage and everyone else in my life. Art is a jealous mistress, there's no doubt about it. Most of the time I'll go along with her demands, but even she has to be ignored sometimes.