Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Color and Form

Creatively, it has been quite an unusual month for me. Whereas normally, I would be focused on oils, collage, and an occasional charcoal drawing, these past few weeks have been primarily about pastels and 3 dimensional efforts so far, and I am really enjoying the process.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Field of Junk

I took a fieldtrip at lunchtime the other day with a fellow artist to visit a metal recycling facility in Hartford. We were there to source materials to use in some upcoming 3-D projects that we each are working on. The facility is located in an old manufacturing area adjacent to the landmark Colt building, with its distinctive blue onion dome.

The workers and clients on site were of surprisingly mellow disposition. Even the junkyard dog patrolling the site, an old pit bull, scampering about with an odd gait, seemed fairly relaxed. With all his experience it was easy for him to sort out the good and the bad from all the men going about their business. His head was about a third the size of his entire body. We found the manager, with the dog, sitting on a stool next to a massive wood burning stove, itself converted and repurposed from a boiler from some bygone era. This was the place to relax a bit and warm up next to a prodigious stack of firewood, food at hand and dog bowls at foot. A quiet man, he looked at us a bit perplexed, and when we said what we were there for, he said, of course we could look around everywhere, all the while hanging on to the dog’s collar. My buddy said that the dog probably slept there at night, and somewhere there would be a small dog door where he could come and go to meet uninvited nighttime visitors.

It was quite an interesting experience to tour the snowy, muddy, icy, wet grounds, inspecting bins chock full of manufacturing waste, quantities of miscellaneous metal parts, and countless old oil-ridden automobile engines, post infarction, some broken in half, relegated to the afterlife. Inside the barn-like structure, itself a relic from a previous era, we found scores of bins full of metal junk carefully sorted with copper here, brass there, lead, and so on. We were surprised to see some small elegant pieces. With the economy in the sorry state it is in, it makes you wonder where this stuff came from, and where it is going. There was a relaxed but steady stream of buying and selling taking place. We learned that six tractor trailer loads had recently been removed, all timed relative to an advantageous market price for the metal.

Our trip was exploratory, and perhaps we will return to pick up materials in the future.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Within and Above

What a week! A giant in the art world, Andrew Wyeth, has passed on, and President Obama shows the promise of leadership here in the USA. I found time to explore some creative pursuits and do a series of pastels.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Food for the Soul

We had a wonderful evening at the home of some new friends last night, west coast transplants, by way of the east coast, kind of like us! After a great meal, I had the unique and satisfying pleasure of seeing one of my paintings framed and happily displayed on the wall. “Beach Scene” had been purchased at the “Party of 4” art show that I participated in at Hartford ArtSpace back in August, '07, along with Jim Healy, Jenny Gonzalez, and Corley Fleming.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Number 9

In a recent study featured on careercast.com and referenced on the IDSA website, industrial design was rated as the ninth best job in the USA. Who knew! Probably not many because I would think ID must be near the top of the list of the most obscure professions in the USA. Ask a European, or, an Asian, and they know exactly what you are talking about. In Europe, industrial designers are treated like celebrities. In the USA, the profession is often confused with Industrial Engineering, a completely different discipline. It is difficult to understand ID because our numbers are few, and the required skillset is quite out of the ordinary, ranging on a spectrum with art on one end and engineering on the other. It has been a struggle to get the word out. There are no compelling dramas or sitcoms featuring the world of industrial design. A colleague said it well when he stated “what architects are to buildings, industrial designers are to products.”

Have you ever held a “cool” product in your hand, saw a car that blew your mind, or experienced an environment that was over the top? You can thank an industrial designer.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Live and Local

Despite the winter storm warning on Saturday night, my wife and I attended the un+art-3 opening at ArtSpace Hartford Gallery. This was the yearly salon style exhibition. I had participated in the past, but chose not to this year for no particular reason. It was a lively opening, perhaps even better than years past, and we enjoyed having a chance to view 100 plus pieces of new, local art. Also, it was great to have a chance to spend time with an artist friend or two, and get to know some new artists. I took the above photo when I noticed some nearby revelers getting snap happy with their cameras. They began to take my picture not knowing what a shutterbug I am. I took a few photos of them and pulled this one through some iterations of PhotoShop to protect the innocent, or guilty, as the case may be.

After shoveling out in the morning, we drove to an opening at the JCC, Greater Hartford. We especially enjoyed seeing Linn Bae’s work, colorful, lively, original, and, if I may say, honest.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Abstract to Real

Is it true that “the medium is the message”, as per the writings of Marshall McLuhan? I don’t know. Perhaps it is though. Nothing engages my senses in the way that the vibrant colors of pastels do. There is nothing quite like that saturated chalky richness, the subtlety of response and willingness for varying hues to commingle and coexist so readily. You reach for the color, the magic happens or not, and then, it is done. No drying required.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

North to North Adams

On Boxing Day, I made a pilgrimage, along with my wife, my son and his friend, to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts. We took the long and winding road up Route 8, arriving at Mass MoCA shortly after it opened at 11 AM. My buddy, Jim Healy, architect, JunkMaster, and creative High Priest, had suggested that we make the trip. The visit did not disappoint.

Mass MoCA features 26 buildings of converted 19th century factory space, situated on a 13 acre site. It is the largest museum of contemporary art in the USA. The gallery space is vast, while at the same time intimate and well organized. Sometimes when I visit a museum I eventually get that enervating museum-fatigue feeling, like, I need to sit down somewhere. I never felt that at Mass MoCA, perhaps because we did so much walking.

We viewed a myriad of works and media, far too many to list here. The highlight of the visit had to be the newly launched exhibit entitled “Sol LeWitt, A Wall Drawing Retrospective”, now on display for the next 25 years. This exhibit alone inhabits 27,000 square feet. Matching numbers hold interest for me, and I remembered that I once inadvertently received an electric shock of 27,000 volts through an exposed power line on my house (I wasn’t meant to die young.) As for the exhibit, whatever you think of Sol LeWitt’s work, this installation is a must. He truly did his own thing, went his own way. His was an honest effort, bold and yes, he attained beauty.

We had a great lunch, walking to a nearby café graced with diverse and antipodal portraits such as those of Jackie O. and Ho Chi Minh, before heading back to the museum to take in more art. For an instant, I thought I must be in New York, Seattle, or San Francisco, not within the cultural doppler radar of Hartford, Connecticut.

On the way home, we took to the snowy heights of the Mohawk Trail, now known primarily as Route 2. We pondered how this trail, which for eons was traversed single file on foot by Native Americans, had grown from an 18” width to gradually accommodate horse and rider, carriages, and later, the automobile. I wondered how long this bituminous black line, this installation of man through G-d’s sacred ground would endure. As modes of transportation evolve, would this road, this scar be allowed to heal over?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I just completed my first work of 2009, shown above, an abstract entitled "Novum 01", an oil painting measuring 36" x 36". It is new for me, not quite like anything I have done before, which is always exciting. The creative process was unique as well, as I based the work on a series of some two dozen smaller pastels that I painted a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Welcome to "Hope and Fury"! A new blog in a new year. I hope you will visit again soon. Isn't it wonderful how many opportunities we have to begin anew? In the new year, the new month, the new week, day and moment? I feel to be in the above image, in my painting "At the Crosswalk", in the moment.