Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Painful Day

He does not think he is old. He is. Today his back really hurt. It never does but since he has been bending over the table working on the 5'x8' it has started to hurt and today was the day that told him that all was not well. He painted anyway. That's what he does. As long as he sits up or stands up and does not move much it's ok. He worked on a couple of smalls. He actually does not believe in large pictures.

The flowers are an abandoned painting from one of his students. The flowers are done in modeling paste so they have texture. He asked for it when it was cast aside. He glittered the background and worked up the flowers. He  believes you can save anything. He has done glitter for over 30 years, every since he first went to Mexico. He has them all....some day....?He got into a rant on Facebook, as much as you can there, about the ubiquitous one color paintings that are so heralded. Being a maximalist they drive him up the wall. He wonders how or why this horse has not been put down. Surface and texture? Ok! They sit on the wall and match the sofa and disappear. Of course they are totally harmless. Nothing subversive and he believes that art is totally subversive and aggressive and should grab you and hold your attention both emotionally and intellectually. At least in the Facebook exchange he got to flirt with a pretty artist. A week ago he went to the museum. we have two very good
ones in Houston. He loves the MFAH. The painting galleries are mostly empty of visitors. They probably intimidate people. There was a show of mid century 20th century paintings from the permanent collection. What a disappointment. They looked so tired and boring and second rate. There must be better ones in the collection. The Rothko was wonderful  and the Diebenkorn good and the Guston of that period good too. He likes Guston a lot, one of his heroes. He liked the Alshinskys from the Sweeney period.... and the rest, BORING. 6 red Richters??? give me a break and he generally likes the man's work . These reminded him of one color pictures already mentioned. Never got into the Johns....the Menil has much better and tougher. The Joan Mitchell..well He was never drawn to her work. Houston's Dick Wray can paint her and most in the show into the ground.  New Mexico's St. Agnes Martin always leaves him Cold. The Big hall held only one picture; a huge Frank Stella Protractor picture that was wonderful in that empty and usually impossible space. He went up to the empty painting galleries to see what's new or rearranged. One of his favorites is the Rembrandt portrait of a anonymous woman. An early work and small, but absolutely wondrous. 

You cannot say she is beautiful, but he has made her so. Rembrandt is always truthful. He even catches her  "lazy" right eye. The lace collar and bow are painted so simply and yet look from a distance so detailed. This wonderful homely woman is just gorgeous. The Goya fishes were there. They take his breath away.


  1. Gack!!! No amount of glitter can save those flowers.
    Two weeks ago I admired the same paintings. The luster of the young lady's pearls accentuate her translucent skin. The quality of the lace drew me in so close that I was scolded by the museum watch dog. Rembrandt was incredible.
    The Goya Fishes and Picasso Rower drew me back three times before the museum closed. There is something about the paint... I'm too ignorant to know what it is. The colors are rich and deep with a glow and texture. Whatever "IT" is, they are magnificent and I really, really want to touch the brush strokes to figure it out!
    Wrangling the plywood and spending long hours bent over in the studio will catch up with you. Take care of your back!

  2. Professor:
    Sorry I ignored commenting and empathizing with you on the aches from positions necessary in painting particular works. But you're still young and have a sound buff body. So, stay with the big stuff. There's always a demand for "good" scale. Good being very open-ended.
    You look so intellectually dashing in your white and straw before the Rembrandt.

  3. From HJ Bott:
    Since I never see any of my comments posted on your blog, here's the latest, responding to your on-going foray against anything approaching minimalist and formal aesthetic issues:

    It's so obvious Professor Art is so very subjective, as is art itself. As the Professor would say, "... give me a break!" A bit of Rudolf Arnheim might have given the Professor a broader catholic sense of appreciation. As Professor Art has pushed the envelope of manipulating paint, and ideas; so too, others have wished to explore and push aesthetic principles belying all ideas that are upon the threshold of our thinking and vision. There is a vast, ever expanding vineyard of esthetic issues to confront. Professor, do not turn it into a graveyard as you would therewith bury your own experiments.

    Herewith I shall go on. Glitter, as you and many others of us have used since its craftsy inception in the 1880s, or earlier with the discovery of mica, is but an infinitesimal idea/element/matter of where we have/can/will go. Many issues have NOT been exhausted any differently than many subjective perspectives of a given, real or imaginary, landscape have not been exhausted. The dynamics of Arnheim's "Art and Visual Perception," as a starter, extends well above the apogee, you imply, of "The Principles of Design 101." Santayana thru Wittgenstein,and their hundreds of predecessors give use much grist for the mill of esthetic ideas as does our milieu, and minimalist work is metaphorically projective of our mind's grasp of what we can do about our lives. Too, do you not utilize "your kinds of art" as decorative constituencies of your living environment? Then we have the "Perennial Avant-Garde" that Adform annoints, and will as long as a market is established. But everything in the arts is a niche market.

    And so, Earl, I have responded to Professor Art for at least the close-knit 59ers.

    Over the plate,