Saturday, December 30, 2006

To Rachel and Nina, et al

'This post is a rambling meandering one, a Valentine, Thank You letter, End of the Old and In With The New Year thing.

Much has transpired this year. Were I to characterize it, I'd say it was one during which I met a lot more people than usual, interesting people. I found people who became my resources, advisors. Some were 'guns for hire'. Brainard, an artist was the one who had the idea of my recruiting 'interns' during the summer. The experience was wonderful. I had me a half dozen graduate men and women strategising, helping with correspondence, completing inventories, writing promotional materials, proof reading, etc. ... they answered my ad in cyberspace. It was wonderful while it lasted.

Early on in my becoming a blogger I found Nina Aoki's site (Lazy geisha) and I do believe we are become friends. I include here a comment she sent me to a post I've this morning removed from my blogsite.

I think it's useful to question the genus of one's art and expression, it can often help us to understand what drives us, because very often, we're searching for an answer and it's simply the question which drives us (a quote Jeff often uses and has taught me as well, but it's quite accurate). Tho, while there is a usefulness in this, might I suggest to simply allow yourself the pleasure of the expression and not become too consumed with the definitions, or even the question itself. Allow your work the room to breathe and stand on its own. I think you will find that your greatest joy lies there along that path and has been there waiting for you all along. While art is very often about pain, true human pain and torment, art can also be about beauty and bliss. One does not have to be a tortured soul to create art, tho, very often that is the case isn't it? xoxo, nina"

Try as I had to write to her my response, I was unable to. I could not spit it out, say that my art was and is of a man who is 'tortured'. It is indeed the persona I've been -for too many years.

Rachel lives in Estonia. far off from New York City. She answered my inquiry for information and assistance. She has become my advocate, my editor and a valued new friend. We tried revising my web site. She in Estonia and I in New York City. It didn't go very well. I needed a new web-master, one to replace Alicia in California, who was no longer freelancing and the new one, Peter Orengo was suggested to me, literally, was referred to him from someone on the internet, got him to visit my studio and see what I was about. We are even now in the process of designing a more interactive, updated site. The showcase I built for my book art has been sitting untouched for more than a year due to 'changed circumstances' ones over which Alicia (the gal who built what you now see) had no control.


This was too was a year of my brushes with mortality (blood clots), of going totally blind. I lost the sight of one eye years back after cataract surgery. The retina of my one good eye was detaching, and re-attaching it was a very close call, performed just in the nick of time. So this year I averted both death and blindness through the good services of my doctor, Joyce Fogel and some wonderful people who were her colleagues. It has been a year that began with my dancing on narrow ledges, a veritable Humptey Dumptey about to fall, one near calamity after another.

What stands out on this, my 78th year, was my not feeling the loner I had been for most of my life. There are friends, new and old on hand. -Wisely and well my wife Annette did her work so well, knew just how be there without making my dependency and my utter helplessness a cause for my resenting her. My daughter (pride and joy, novelist, her recently supplied me with all sorts means and ways of enduring those dark hours and days of recuperating from eye surgery:she brought a cornucopia of books on tapes and music on CDs.

I've been a loner for many years! And this is one I've found myself far from feeling or being 'alone'.

Friends in the here and now, No family to speak of) who are not in cyberspace are: Bruce, his wife Karen in New Hampshire, (old colleagues having taught art on Long Island once upon a time). In Manhattan, there's Guy Kettelhack (poet, with whom I've collaborated) He and David Schechter, my neighbor are gay men, introduced me to the actual world of being gay. There's Jon McCormick, (my shrink, the best luck my having found him.) and Richard Wandell (he's an archivist at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Center. Has a large collection of my book art)..., Catherine Johnson-Roehr (archivist at the Kinsey in Bloomington, Indiana.) Werner and Eva (old friends), Bob and Patricia (new friends) on Long Island, Mirjam, a former student I taught a very long time ago in Central Islip High, now lives in Dallas Texas ...

I've found myself this year rededicated and especially renewed.

I love working, love learning, ... love knowing there is yet so much still to do.

Finding new gladness & joy!
Happy New Year

Monday, December 11, 2006


Where does ‘outrage’ come from? Is this the right question? Can you answer it?

I say: “I'm outraged!” But where does it come from? I mean the roots of it -- the deepest tendrils from which I make my art.

I do not now speak for anyone as to the what of ‘outrage’. Only for myself.  I do not go so far as to think beyond today. There were yesterdays when I believed I was “The Everyman,” but not now.  I do not infer a truth representative of all humanity. So then to speak of ‘outrage’ is to say I have dissected it for you -- and in so doing will attempt to share an anecdote with you.


My childhood recollection is of a boy on roller skates, maybe eight or nine years old. The wheels clack as he skates on the pebbly pavement surface of the sidewalk (the sound of skates is softer on the black tarred road). I remember this (now faceless) boy who stopped me, would not allow me (I forget exactly what), but gave me recourse to be enraged. The injustice of it! He would not let me be! Nor could I skate away from him. I, losing all self-possession, pummel this boy.  What triggered this? What signal? I pummeled him. Screamed. Wept. It angered me to be so o u t r a g e d!

The emotion was overwhelming. It was not about face-saving, but of volition -- there was no volition on my part to lose control. I'd never done this before... this surrendering to a dementia of what I now label ‘outrage’. Kicking off my skates and screaming, pummeling this horrid bully with my fists… I was in tears! I wept as I flayed at him. Rebuking him as my fists pounded at him... It was all his fault that I was weeping and enraged. I was outraged! Outraged.  I even realize how ridiculous my rebuking him may have sounded. I was angry at my own ineptness, incoherence. I felt such embarrassment and shame.

I, who later speculated as to being in my art an Everyman, did not see myself as an Everyboy. None of those boys on my street were at all like me. They had no mothers like mine -- mine who demanded roller skating only on the sidewalk, not out in the middle where the surface was smoother and where all the others  boys played, skated  and rode their bicycles (which I was not permitted to have). I was (repeatedly) the new kid on the block, the Jewish kid (among the goyim), whose mother would not welcome them to her apartment or serve cookies to their children.  

Did I seethe when I was eight or nine? I recollect I did during my adolescent years. I harbored and repressed a lot of anger and resentment. It seemed to me that any other response was futile, would only excite and aggravate me, accomplishing nothing. I shed no tears, showed no shame, deigned no helplessness or anger. ‘Outrage’ is an ‘Inrage’.

That is but a tendril of what the word ‘outrage’ denotes.  Such is the play dough for my expressions in the art I make, the pornography I the artist make of it.  Its roots and vectors charged, energized by my inrage, my rage and defiance.

So, you can either buy into it or not… consider it or not an explanation that takes what outrages you into account. Mine comes from the soil of my childhood. We all tell singular ‘my-life’ stories, parsing the vectors (strands) to tell or hide. It contextualizes the point we’re trying to get across.

Are you ‘outraged’? What is your story?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Some Recent Drawings

I date my drawings knowing that any one of them might be copied or scanned, appear anywhere else, other than in the drawing books I work with.
The store-bought books are those hard cover black ones you find in any art supply store. I've for decades been using these drawing books logs, keeping the drawings and jottings of my thoughts as my journals. I've come to regard drawings as a form of thought.

Often, as is the case of the three pages shown here, adding of color markers starts another process. The blank white paper, the page is itself a rorchach, but the found colors coming from the verso side of the page is moreso. It is as though I'm reading tea leaves -am a medium communing with something in the beyond. I've come to learn and appreciate that the pages in my drawing books are never 'blank'.

But on the stained pages, the line made image have a dance partner!

In the making of my drawings, it has come about a modus operandi that is very quintessential to how I make my book art.

There is a kind of sleepwalking aspect to this. I'm a sort of like a Mr. Magoo blundering along manipulating my way on scaffoldings, aalong rooftop ledges, on precipices of disaster, death, and the abyss -and somehow I miraculously get home, if not a bit tousled and unkempt, unscathed. I've made something. And all is well that ends well. :-)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Who advocates for the worldwide impoverished females?

Todays NY TIMES (12/3/2006) front page headlines tell a most terrible story as to the state of women in Africa. Child abuse is rampant there. Girls are raped by their relatives with impunity. The culture and the laws all conspire to protect the men from prosecution, or for financial liability for the harm they have caused. Only yesterday, Annette and I were viewing a CD of a movie made in India. I suggest you get hold of it : "Water". It tells of the tragic lives of widowed women and female children. We follow the plight of a seven year old girl whose ancient husband has just died and being taken from her parents to spend the rest of of her days in a commune where she as a newbie widow joins these women who are forced to live celibate, secluded existences. As widows the families of the deceased enforce their being untouchables for the remainder of their lives. A woman or child who does not immolate herself along with her deceased husband cannot leave this community or marry again. We observe that they are turned over to pimps as courtesans so as to help these impoverished women to subsist on their meager allowances.

I am also cognizant of there being many female children who are victims of AIDS because they are not protected from the predations of the members of their own families. Or that in parts of Africa they are on the front line for being raped and murdered (ethnic cleansing)... Wherever there is an ongoing disparity between the value and hierarchical status of males and females, where-ever it prevails, be it in Asia, or the the subcontinent, the Middle East, in Africa. or among isolated sects and communities here in the North American or South American continents, such tragedies and horrors persist.

You and those who have commented in the recent discussion (see links), re: Lazy Geisha / old-klingon-proverbs) addressing the least and perhaps trivial aspects of what are much more serious crimes against women all over the world. And it seems a shame that we who are so much better off are turning a blind eye on the dreadful realities among the impoverished world wide - the women and girl children held hostage and captive in so many countries and continents today.

Who advocates for them, Do you and I?

We do not talk enough about the existence of what is a worldwide sex industry, one involving the selling and trading of flesh and sex ... (especially underage girls and women, ones who are bought sold, traded. stolen- exported to foreign places where the laws and cultures allow it. How many human lives are impounded for the vanity and libidinous appetites of the wealthy? What venue have WE created or joined for the addressing of these horrors?

I count myself among the lucky ones, the very fortunate few who indeed is living where these atrocities do not bar our enjoying our daily and routine lifestyles. We live comfortably, in safety, able to choose with ease to not discuss what in our polite circles is distasteful and inconvenient.

We 'tend our gardens' blogsites, entertain and are entertained by our friends, are satisfied to think of ourselves as enlightened and positive thinking. We can continue enjoying our good lives.

It is a sorry thing to feel like a gadfly as to be raising (berating) your consciousness with such irritants as this. We are among the very blessed and fortunate -and in truth, have actually very little to bellyache about. We go on holiday to tropic islands, never taking any note of the islanders living outside our immediate hotel environs, noting the poverty that exists, its ubiquity. We may occasionally encounter some lout, note the behavior of someone we deem obnoxious, misogynist, sneer and spout some pious words of our disdain and disapproval. I am sorry to say it is about all we do. We lack any sense of our collusion in this, any sense of our responsibility as to how we might serve to intervene or correct it... We don't do more than we are doing.

Not even in our own neck of the woods.

We pay no tithes. Not in time, money, or allegiance ,,, only lip service.