Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Nuala O'Faolain

Achill Island, Ireland, May 2017

I heard the most moving interview with the Irish journalist Nuala O'Faolain after a sudden, terminal diagnosis.  It's a few years old but that doesn't matter, its desperate and poignant and stunning.  She offers listeners no comfort, its just the brutal sadness and searching of someone not ready to leave her life before.  I have listened three times.

This is the first half, if you click here you can hear more..

I liked it so much I got her book 'Are You Somebody?' out of the library.  Apparently it was a huge bestseller so maybe I'm the only one who missed out but it was published 20 years ago so maybe not. There are many passages I marked and felt so keenly but here are my two tops:

"My life burned inside me.  Even such as it was it was the only record of me, and it was my only creation, and something in me would not accept that it was insignificant."

"The place I was leaving had from beginning to end contained feelings so vehement, however silly they were, that even now it is hard to believe they don't live, still, somewhere else as well as in my memory."

Her vulnerability is palpable now, in nearly 2019, risky, as a woman.  So I'm sure it was scandalous at that time.  What courage she carried through life.  At one point in the interview she said she feels so devastated that all her knowledge, stupid and serious alike, will be lost when she dies.  That thought worries me too.  I'm so thankful for books and paintings that can carry some small pieces forward.  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Radicals at Cerulean Arts

I guest curated a show for Cerulean Arts opening next week.  But the reception isn't until the Thanksgiving wave crashes over.  Saturday 12/1 from 2-5pm, please join! 1355 Ridge Ave Phila       If you would like a postcard send me an email.  More info on the show is here: https://ceruleanarts.com

Here is my blurb on the postcard: "I am pleased to present the exhibition New Radicals featuring 14 Philadelphia connected painters chosen for their subtle, slow and pleasureful commitment to their practice: Rebekah Callaghan, Mariel Capanna, Alex Cohen, Evan Fugazzi, Claire Kincade, Bonnie Levinthal, Adam Lovitz, Dustin Metz, John Mitchell, Samantha Mitchell, Kaitlin Pomerantz, Liza Samuel, Bill Scott and Leigh Werrell.  While the work varies in form and subject, an intimate relationship with mark, color and surface is consistent.  These 14 demonstrate a loving restraint, a respect for the mystery that unfolds in process and a deference for the maker's hand.  In the face of current trends, this careful work feels radical.  I look to these painters as an antidote, as proof that the greatest painting can still be deeply felt and personal.  And I take great interest in the way this groundswell is happening here, two hours south of New York."

We will be installing in a few days and I will post some installation images.  I am really thrilled to be working with these people and their beautiful work.  I hope the space will have an exponential surge of that beauty when all their energy is in one place.  I will be giving a talk on 12/8 too, so when I fullydevelop that maybe I will post some further thoughts on curating and the themes I hope the show explores.  

Monday, November 5, 2018

Vuillard's Doubt

Portrait of Thadee Natanson, 1897, Oil on Cardboard mounted on Panel, 20 x 15 inches, Brooklyn Museum

I liked this enough to copy it by hand into my sketchbook, but now I don't know which book on Vuillard it came from.  I think its perfect, except maybe for the word 'charm' (feeling too nice by today's use.)

"...has a melancholy quality, neither romantic nor disdainful, but discreet, with a sense of everyday; has a tender, caressing quality, almost I would say timid if such a word could possibly be used in connection with so much skill.  But, despite all his success I sense the charm of anxiety and doubt.  He never uses a color that is not immediately toned down by subtle and valuable relationships."

The Green Lamp, 1893, Oil on Board, 8.25 x 10.25 inches, Museum of Modern Art