Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Headed to Denver....

for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. I've been working like a madman, trying to finish up some new work I'm pretty excited about.

Stop and say hello at booth # 79.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

64th Rochester-Fingerlakes Exhibition

Hot Summer Sky, 48 x 66 inches, oil on canvas.

Later this week I'll drop off the painting above at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, for its 64th Rochester-Fingerlakes exhibit. Hot Summer Sky was accepted into the show, and I was asked to provide a statement to go along with it.

An artist's statement is one of the biggest pains in the ass you can imagine having to write. Always concerns over being honest, and at the same time hoping you hit the mark in what those making judgments are hoping and expecting to read, to have the right artistic gravitas. Yet not be sounding like a pompous ass.

Or, comfortably plopped into middle-age, you can hopefully leave those concerns behind, all but the honesty.

So, here's what I wrote:

Hot Summer Sky

15 years ago I stood in the beautiful, vaulted space of a massive hay barn in eastern Oregon. I was there with my wife, Darby Knox, to introduce her to my extended family, my mother's aunts and uncles. I stood next to her, in this place I'd visited frequently while growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I'd played there as a child, and was left misty eyed over the life I'd missed, in this gorgeous country, amongst people I loved and admired so much. Darby said quietly, Why don't you paint any barns? They are spectacular.

I kind of scoffed at the idea. They're kitschy, I replied, maybe the most over-exposed subject in American painting.

She gave me a bump and a smile, and said, They don't have to be.

And that's where it started for me, a new body of work. Trying to take a common subject and make it something new. To turn a subject of sweet nostalgia and American pie into something contemporary and iconic, representational to an extent, but imbued with the energy and surface of expressionism. 

For me they are monuments to people like my aunts and uncles, men and women who greeted the day the same way they did their nephew, with smothering hugs, bone crushing handshakes, and enthusiasm for the life at hand.

As for kitsch, as a good friend of mine says of his prodigious storytelling, The facts are just the jumping off point.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Life's been crazy!?!?!

Can't believe it's been a month and a half since I posted, but then I think about the month and a half, and I realize, Well, yeah.

Silver Creek II, 32 x 40 inches, oil on linen, and now living in Texas.

First a trip to Texas for a show, where 8 paintings found new homes. I couldn't have been happier, and the temperature was a beautiful, balmy 70 degrees all weekend, making it a comfortable visit as well.

Once I was home, we raced down to NYC to meet miss Madeleine Grace Rogers, who made me forget all about how terrific Texas had been.

Then home again, and to the opening of the 6 x 6 show at RoCo (Rochester Contemporary) in Rochester. It it their annual fund raising event, and artists from all over the world donate pieces that are sold for $20.00 each to benefit the gallery. I participated this year to support the gallery, but I had my own more important reason- my son Todd donated a piece and it would be our first chance to exhibit in the same show. His piece sold at the chaotic opening night frenzy, as did one of mine. The other is still available at  http://www.roco6x6.org/6x6x2013.php, # 3220, a mono type of a horse. It can be purchased online, and the money goes to a great cause- supporting the arts in a very difficult market.
And finally we headed to North Carolina for a family celebration of my mother's 80th birthday, and an early Father's Day with my dad. A quick but wonderful trip to see my family who means so much to me, and maybe most fun of all, to watch the next generation cousins all get a long and laugh so easily.

In between all that, about 28 paintings have been slowly, (in some cases with much blood, sweat and tears), coming together. I'll try and tell you about that a little sooner, rather than my more typical later.

Spring is near ending, and I feel like it's passed me by. But the coyotes were out and singing last night, as loud and close as I've ever heard. Life goes on.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In August of 2011, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Artist in Residency program at Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska, thanks to artist extraordinaire, guide and all round great guy Bob White, and Steve Laurent, the manager of BBL, a spectacular photographer and badass bush pilot. This fall, when I get a chance to dive into some larger work resulting from the experience, I'll tell you more about the trip. But I'd like to share a bit of the preliminary work I've done, and ask for your help.

Bristol Bay, Alaska, is home to the most productive salmon fishery on earth. Nearly 40 million sockeye salmon return to its rivers every year, and there is a good chance that if you eat wild caught salmon, it has come from a Bristol Bay fishery.

Foreign mining companies want to develop North America's largest open pit gold, copper and molybdenum mine near the headwaters of these rivers. Open pit mining is the most destructive form of mining, and the toxic waste from the operation will be stored indefinitely behind earthen damns in an area of extremely high seismic activity-ie earthquakes. No one believes there won't be accidents and failures.

If you eat wild salmon, and recognize it for the precious resource that it is, please go to http://www.savebristolbay.org/takeaction and sign in support of protecting the Bristol Bay region.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Color

When I went outside last Friday there was snow on my truck. But this time of year, I know winter is over, we're just waiting for spring to emerge through the browns and grays that cover the land now.

Finn and Uly, always happy to help me look for things, make me more aware.

Small patches of bright color show up, harbingers of things to come.

We do a little foraging. OK, I do a little foraging, Finn lays in last fall's leaves, waiting patiently. Uly tears around eating deer droppings, rolling in who knows what, and bringing me one stick after another to try and distract me from the obviously less than interesting task at hand.

But I have dinner in mind, a colorful ramps and veggie pizza. And the left-over ramps made an excellent omelette the following morning.

There's lots of color in the studio too, with the first show of the season right around the corner. I have had a dozen paintings going over the past few months, and now I'm in my usual state of wondering how many will be ready for this first show.
And I managed to get my feet wet again, my first time trout fishing this year. An evening in the water, under a full moon, casting to rising fish. Reflexes slow and stiff from a winter away from it, casting rusty, not what I know I'm capable of, and not much time. But enough to feel the river press against me, the earth, to find my balance.

My big news of the day.

Well, she's big for a baby, but still pretty small.

Madeleine Grace Rogers, arrived last night. 9lbs, 6 oz., 20 1/2 inches.

Momma is doing great, Poppa is very proud.

Grandpa (me) is overjoyed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Getting my feet wet.

Winter seems to finally be coming to a close. No one who knows me would be surprised to find out I was anxious to get my feet wet. Spent the day on the river with my buddy, the Professor. Water always leaves me feeling more in tune with myself, with life, and with my work.

Snow melt had it brimful and tough to fish. We fished, didn't catch, but came away better for it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Scraping winter away...

Walking the other morning I saw the first turkey vulture of the spring. I've seen robins, but it's the return of the vultures that really makes spring seem real. As we walked up the hill a couple more lifted off the field to our right. I'd had to call Uly off a deer carcass late in the fall- either a deer hunter's lost shot, or possibly a car the culprit. After winter, I was surprised there was enough left to attract the birds.

We walked over to where I remembered it laying. There wasn't much left, nothing but scattered hair. I was amazed that the coyotes and crows could have done that  thorough a job. But then our noses found it- the skeleton, drug off 50 yds downhill to the west. As we approached, there was a desperation to it's posture. A sadness. Like she was still trying to escape her long past fate.

Spring seems to finally reveal everything scraped down by winter.

Back in the studio, the scraping reveals something more hopeful. My palette is a 24 x 30 inch sheet of 1/4 inch glass. The paint eventually builds to such an uneven surface as to be unusable, and I have to go after it with a scraper.

The process reveals miniature abstract expressionist master pieces, one after another. All unintentional surprises, but beautiful. The color combinations revealed always give me pause, a chance to approach more intentional work with a broader sense of color.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Winter Sky in Spring

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mud Season.

We have 5 season here in western New York. The usual four, but then, sandwiched between spring and summer is Mud Season. It is usually a solid month, frequently longer and not ending til May strolls along.

It is the one time of year living with sidewalks would be nicer, and living surrounded by muck farmland is tough. The mud permeates everything. The dogs track it in. The cats. Our shoes. The cuffs of pants, often times soaking up to mid-calf by the end of the daily walk. It wears you down.

Well, wears me down. My two walking buddies don't mind so much.

One in particular.

When I see Trillium show in the dark, damp shadows of the woods I know the end is near.


I'll let you know.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This week's walks, things seen.

We walk every day, for an hour or so, sometimes much more. Keeps the dogs fit, and me mellow. If I told you about everything we saw, everything I thought about... I'd never get anything done.

But here's a few things from this week.

Once in a while we come across something a bit unnerving- a track the size of my hand.

But then I remember it's ok- he's with me.

And just this morning, for the second time this week, and enormous flock of snow geese. I quite counting at 240. There were ultimately well over 1000.

And just as we got back home, a juvenile bald eagle slid overhead.

Pretty good start to the season.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Uly's Rodeo

Darb and I took the dynamic duo out on Friday morning. Another lovely spring day in western New York, 31 degrees, wind and snow. Slush. Mud. You know, spring.

But no one told the critters the weather was bad, and they were about. Swans and geese overhead- they always get Uly's attention. Finn is fairly oblivious to flying things, figuring out long ago that they are out of range. And Uly doesn't show any interest in chasing things in the air, though if they start on the ground, he seems sure they may be a potential threat. In the air, he watches, seems to contemplate.

The rodeo started when we crested the hill out back, in the woods. A field filled with turkeys, 150 yards away. There was no holding him back, and with that much lead, the turkey's were in no danger. A little squabbling went up from the flock as he burst through a hedge row, then turkeys lifting off in every direction. Hell, I'd probably take flight too if I thought he was after me.

Sixteen to twenty turkeys, going in ten different directions. And then they spooked the deer. I don't think the deer ever saw the Big Thunder (he has about 31 nicknames at this point), just spooked with the turkeys, their bellwether. Turkeys every which way, deer tearing the length of an unplowed field. Maybe it is spring.

Once he was sure the coast was clear, his work done, he strutted back towards us, obviously quite proud of himself. If I was a more demanding dog owner, if we lived in town, if we walked in parks or on sidewalks.... well, if, if, if. We don't, because neither he nor I would get to see and smell all the good stuff. See it, feel it, smell it, roll in it. Well, I leave the rolling mostly to them.

On the way out of the woods a opossum waddled across in front of us. Waddled, rather than bolted- I don't think a opossum is capable of bolting. But the waddle drew the dogs attention, but more like their cats do at home. Curiosity. A buddy, a plaything...  We called them off pretty easily, and held them in turns while we each took a closer look.

The oddly pink and human hands, gripping the maple and hickory in the cold, looked like he was thinking it wasn't quite spring yet either.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Trailing Wile

First full day of spring. A week ago it was mid-40's and sunny. When I took the dogs out the birds seemed deafening. After months of wind as the loudest narrator of our walks, the volume was startling. And fun.

And then Monday night, we got two inches of slush dumped on us. As Finn, Uly and I headed out the sound track was back to a variation on winter- the cold, slow, tinkling of sleet. And the crunch of slush under foot.

Before long we found tracks of someone else.

We hear coyotes all the time, at least several times each week. Last winter there was a cat fight under our bedroom window. I went out to break it up, and found a coyote, buried to his waist in the hedge, trying to get at our 9 lb sociopathic spidermonkey of a cat, Max. The coyote seemed to disappear, vaporize before my eyes. Then I heard him meet up with the rest of his group in the dark, and they yipped their way out into the fields behind us.

Max was spastic with adrenalin for a few minutes, but eventually no worse for wear.

On Tuesday we came across the tracks in the snow, and after a moment, I compared them to our own. They were fresh in the soft slushy ground covering, not degraded much at all. Finn and Uly were on them immediately, noses to the ground, then looking to me, then back to the tracks. And off we went.

We hear them all the time, but see them rarely. Darby and I stood and watched one last year for 15 minutes. It didn't move, just stared at us. The dogs couldn't see him because of their lower sightline. We just stood and stared right back, eventually moving on, feeling as if we had interrupted him long enough.

A couple years before that I came face to face with one in a blizzard. The dogs were trailing behind me. I was walking head down, just trying to keep moving and get the dogs worn out. They never seem to care that the weather is nasty, and need the exercise to keep them from getting too wound up. Tired dog is a good dog. And I was enjoying the blizzard, plowing along with my head down. Just as I turned east over a culvert, I sensed something ahead of me. He must have done the same thing, because just as my head came up, so did his, and we locked on each other about 15 ft apart. I'm sure if the visibility had been much more then the 25 feet we had that afternoon he would never have let it happen.

We stared for a moment, frozen. I heard the dogs' collars tinkling behind me, turned to cut them off before a chase. But when I glanced back ahead, there was no need, the coyote had vanished. With the wind and heavy snow, the dogs didn't even nose the tracks.

But on Tuesday, they were beside themselves. Uly racing all over, checking the twin tracks of the first trail, then bounding over to a third pair that was raggedly paralleling the first. Finn moved with power and purpose, forgetting her age. It made me remember her 5 years ago- possibly the most athletic animal I've ever seen. And they were so busy going forward coming back, Uly circling between the two paths, I stayed right with them. I clicked a couple pictures, then glanced up at the woods ahead. Movement. Wait.... there again. The single coyote, looking dark in the damp woods. And then to the right, the pair. And they froze, looking over their shoulders our way.

Uly bounded forward, and they were gone.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013




A natural object or animal believed by a particular society to have particular spiritual significance.

I'm not sure many people have totems any more, but I still have mine. Some times seem more important than others to keep them in mind. This is a good week for me to think on my own.

From an ongoing series that goes... I know not where.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wisdom from Mr. Thiebaud

It is too easy to become an employee of the art world, be consumed by it, and have it take you away from who you want to be. 

-Wayne Thiebaud

Monday, March 4, 2013


Living in a rural area, we have a PO Box, and I look forward to stopping in to get the mail. It's a chance for a moment's company, welcome in the middle of days alone. And there's always the chance of an unexpected surprise in the day's delivery. When I opened the box one day last week, there was an extra key inside, an indication that something was too big to fit, and it's waiting in a second, oversized box.

I went through my mental inventory of things due- maybe a fly rod, or my end of fly swap. Books I'd forgotten I ordered. A package from family. Horse stuff for Darb…. but she hadn't given me a heads up. Nothing came to mind.

A mystery.

I open the po box and pull out the package below. I didn't recognize the name, and momentarily thought, It must be for Darby. But no, it's addressed to me. There was a little click in the back of my mind.

After the short trip home and giving the pups a treat, expected for their remarkable accomplishment of following me from the truck to the house, I pulled out my knife and opened the box. Inside is a note and a roughly packed picture frame sticking out of an envelope. I recognized the top edge of the frame as one that I used for years, and pulled the frame from the envelope, already knowing what was there.

Several years ago, at a show in Philadelphia, two paintings were stolen. The only time it has ever happened, before or since. The box contained the smaller of the two.

I'm not sure what to think. 

I picked up the note for the first time and read the following:


I've possessed the enclosed painting for a number of years as it was given to me by a friend. I recently learned (oddly) that the painting was acquired in an illicit way. I feel compelled to return the piece to you as I do not like knowing that I have something, especially a work of art, that wasn't rightly purchased from the creator. Hopefully this painting has some meaning to you, or at least can now be sold as you originally intended.

All the best,


I am still left with an unknown emotion. 


Why? Because I'd already decided how i felt about the two pieces being stolen, and kind of tucked it away, a little more watchful and wary than I was before. I was initially really angry- ok, flat out pissed-off. But then I went around to many of my neighbors at the show, warning them to be extra careful, and to a person, they all responded with some version of, Well, man, nobody stole anything from me? How should I feel about that? 

Like I was the only one that juried into the Thief's Choice Show.

The responses of other artists struck me as so funny it helped me decide to just let it go. I  figured the loss was one of those tolls life occasionally collects, and I decided that I had gotten off fairly cheaply.  The decision was made easier by the fact that neither piece stolen was very big- though the other was larger, about 14 x 18 inches if I recall correctly.

So I have this small painting back. It was from a series of tree paintings I did over a few years, really just a subject around which to play with and better understand color. The series started with me puzzling over the bright, intense, shimmering colors I saw in a small grove of Sugar Maples across from the field where I used to coach my kids soccer teams. I learned a lot about color from the series- in fact it changed the way I paint. Bu the whole series is gone now (with the exception of the last two that are available on my small work site), and it doesn't really fit with what I am working on these days.

What to do?

First a thank you note. 

Dear ??????,

Honesty is the trait I prize above all others. Thank you.



And now what? I've been stewing for the last couple months, or realistically, maybe the past year or more. Obviously not about the prodigal painting. But stewing is something I am prone to do, and when I'm in the middle of it, I don't recognize it. Part of my creative cycle. Mostly humming along, but then, occasionally, stew. Stew can simmer for a ridiculously long time. Darby asked me the other day if I was depressed, and I assured her that I wasn't. It isn't depression, it's stewing. It's just that I've only recently recognized that I was doing it. Somehow the return of the painting turned the lights on

And then I remembered why I stew. Because I'm trying to figure something out. I'm not a verbal thinker. I don't sit down and think an essay, or short story. There's no obvious set of directions, do this, then this, then this. No narrative. I describe it to people as looking for a path in a dense woods. In the dark. Blindfolded. There's a sense of direction, a pull to the place I need to go. But if you just blunder forward, you'll end up lost.

I am my father's son in many ways. I like to work. Actually, I love to work. Work for me is putting paint to canvas. But sometimes that gets in the way of finding my direction. A big part of my work is thinking about putting paint to canvas- what I'm painting and why. Sometimes I need to slow down, and stew.

So I think I've had about enough stewing. I think. I'm feeling like I know what I'm doing again. I have a lot of paint to put on canvas. 

I haven't been posting on this blog in forever.  As I said, I'm not a verbal stewer. But I am figuring some things out, have some big projects ahead of me, and some big adventure behind me that ties to it. And that would be fun to tell you about.

So the return of another prodigal. Me. More soon.