the artful mind artzine august 2020 url

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Berkshires artzine promoting and supporting the visual and performing arts since 1994

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020

Artist and Gallerist ALEX KAMAROFF Photography by Edward Acker



THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST2020 • 1


FRONT ST. GALLERY

THE ARTFUL MIND Art should allow the viewer time for self discovery and interpretation without restrictions.

AUGUST 2020 VIRTUAL GALLERY / ARTISTS/ AUGUST CONSUME GOOD ART HERE! ...7 ALEX KAMAROFF ARTIST /GALLERIST PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDWARD ACKER INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE...22

Painting by Kate Knapp

Painting classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings 10-1pm at the studio in Housatonic and Thursday mornings 10am - 1pm out in the field. Also available for private critiques. Open to all. Please come paint with us! Gallery hours: Open by chance and by appointment anytime 413. 274. 6607 (gallery) 413. 429. 7141 (cell) 413. 528. 9546 (home) www.kateknappartist.com

MOKSHA AND JEMAL WADE THE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC OF DUHOST INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE ...32 VISUAL ARTIST DIANE FIRTELL INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE ...26 CAROLYN M. ABRAMS VISUAL AND SPIRITUAL ARTIST INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE ...44

Front Street, Housatonic, MA RICHARD BRITELL / FICTION: ICONS Jason & His Grandmother / Ch. 10 ...40

LARRY FRANKEL

July issue correction: The title to Janet Pumphrey's first photograph was inadvertently omitted: "Inspiration: Irving Penn."

Publisher Harryet Candee Copy Editor

Marguerite Bride

Third Eye: Jeff Bynack Advertising and Graphic Design Harryet Candee Contributing Writer: Richard Britell Photographers: Edward Acker, Tasja Keetman

Red Lilly, Photography, 2020

www.Larryfrankelphotography.com Larryfrankel@me.com Cell 914.419.8002

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CALENDAR LISTINGS and ADVERTISING RATES, please call 413 - 645 - 4114 artfulmind@yahoo.com issuu.com / instagram FB Open Group: ARTFUL GALLERY for artful minds FYI: ©Copyright laws in effect throughout The Artful Mind for logo & all graphics including text material. Copyright laws for photographers and writers throughout The Artful Mind. Permission to reprint is required in all instances. In any case the issue does not appear on the stands as planned due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control, advertisers will be compensated on a one to one basis. All commentaries by writers are not necessarily the opinion of the publisher and take no responsibility for their facts and opinions.


MATT CHINIAN “Paintings of village life in Upstate New York”

Virtual Show:

www.mattchinian.com

#1575 Cumby's 3-26-20 12x16

#1530 Laundromat at night 10-11-19 11x14

Studio open with social distancing by appointment email: mattchinian@gmail.com

#1529 Great Wall. 10-10-19 13x14

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 3


Nina Lipkowitz

Upstate Pasture, 7 x 5” Oil on Panel Day 114

24 x 18”

watercolor, pen and ink

www.ninalipkowitz.com ninalipkowitz@gmail.com MEDITATIONS IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC - a time of contraction and expansion -

SHARON GUY sharonguyart@gmail.com (941) 321-1218 https://www.sharonguyart.com

510 Warren Street Gallery, Hudson, NY Open Friday and Saturday 12-6 and Sunday, 12-5

Equinox 15 x 30” Oil on canvas / framed in white washed wood 2017 View of the Vermont Equinox Mountain from Bennington Airport

Ghetta Hirsch website: www.ghetta-hirsch.squarespace.com instagram: @ghettahirschpaintings Text or call : 413. 281. 0626

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Carolyn Newberger "As an artist and writer, I have struggled to communicate how these events and realizations have affected me. Both words and images feel too light for the heaviness of the truths that we must bear. And yet bear them we must, communicate what their truths mean to us we must, and work toward change we must." --Carolyn Newberger, “Contagion,” The Berkshire Edge, June 29,2020

CONTAGION WATERCOLOR AND COLLAGE, 30 X 38 INCHES

www.carolynnewberger.com

617-877-5672

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 5


MARK MELLINGER

ELEANOR LORD

Landscape, Reflections on The Berkshires, pastel

Sunrise acrylic on canvas

24 x 36”

100 North St Pittsfield Painting - Collage - Construction 914. 260. 7413 markmellinger680@gmail.com

visit:

www.Eleanorlord.com

"I Love Pink" by Julia Grey Model: Sukkeron 10"x15" pigment print on Hahnemuehle Museum Etching 350gsm At Large Studio, Las Vegas Nevada

www.xgender.net Julia Grey 6 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND


Welcome to the pages of The Artful Mind AUGUST 2020

VIRTUAL GALLERY of FINE ART Artists: CLAUDIA D’ALESSANDRO LARRY FRANKEL SHARON GUY GHETTA HIRSCH KATE KNAPP MARK MELLINGER NINA LIPKOWITZ BRUCE PANOCK CAROLYN NEWBERGER JANET PUMPHREY KATRIN WAITE

Art is a sound investment and a lifetime of enjoyment... To be on these gallery walls, please contact: artfulmind@yahoo.com FB: ART GALLERY for Artful Minds THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 7


CLAUDIA D’ALESSANDRO

Coquina Beach

Los Lonely Bird

Shifting Sands

CONTACT:

cdalessandro26@gmail.com https://www.dalessandrophotography.com 413-717-1534

Curtain Rising

Monet Goes South

Pot Hole Party

"Shaped by Water" Whether crushing shells in surf, melding the fragments with sand into 'coquina' (the rock on which some of Florida is built), sculpting the beach, coloring a sky or catching reflections in a pool, water shapes and colors our world. These works are printed and mounted on aluminum, 24 x 36" $335 each

8 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND VIRTUAL GALLERY


LARRY FRANKEL

Red Lilly 2020 11 x 17”

$750

Kodak Truck 2020 11 x 17”

Olive Tree 2020 11 x 17”

$750

$750

Pez 2020 11 x 17”

Lillies and Butterflies 2020 11 x 17”

$750

$750

CONTACT: Larryfrankelphotography.com

Larryfrankel@me.com Cell 914-419-8002

VIRTUAL GALLERY THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 9


SHARON GUY

Peace of Paradise 12 x 9” Oil on Panel $350

The Sound of Quiet 10 x 8” Oil on Panel $275 Upstate Pasture 7 x 5” Oil on Panel $100

CONTACT:

sharonguyart@gmail.com https://www.sharonguyart.com 941-321-1218

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VIRTUAL GALLERY

Freedom 24 x 12” Oil on Canvas $900


GHETTA HIRSCH

Full Moon 2020 6 X 6” Oil on 3/4” thick wood panel ready to hang $275

Ephemeral 2020 6 X 12” Oil and cold wax medium on 3/4” wood panel $300

Corona Sun 2020 6 X 6” Oil and cold wax medium on wood panel, framed in white wood. $375

Retreating 2020 20 x 20” Oil canvas $525

CONTACT:

Crush Time 2020 8 X 8” oil and cold wax medium on wood panel, framed in white wood $350

Ghetta-Hirsch.squarespace.com Instagram@ghettahirschpaintings Text 413-281-0626

VIRTUAL GALLERY THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 11


KATE KNAPP

North Egremont Barns in Autumn, 20 x 24” Oil on Canvas

Barn with Old Truck 24 x 36” Oil on Canvas

North Egremont Large Barn 30 x 40” Oil on Canvas

North Egremont Barn 24 x 36” Oil on Canvas

CONTACT: Prices upon Request. Please call or text Kate Knapp: 413-429-7141 www.kateknappartist.com Seekonk Barn 30 x 40” Oil on Canvas 12 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

VIRTUAL GALLERY


MARK MELLINGER

Chair Pastel on Cardboard 12 x 12

$245

In Accordance Collage and counterfeit lithograph. 2018 $900

Untitled 2019 Acrylic and collage 20 x 16 $750

CONTACT:  914-260-7413 markmellinger680@gmail.com Bottles Acrylic 2019 24 x 18” $1100 VIRTUAL GALLERY THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 13


Nina Lipkowitz Day 128 watercolor, ink, torn paper 24 x 18” $400

Nina Lipkowitz Day 58 watercolor, pen and ink 24 x 18” $400

Nina Lipkowitz Day 39 watercolor, pen and ink 24 x 18” $400 14 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND VIRTUAL GALLERY


NINA LIPKOWITZ

Day 68 watercolor, pen and ink 12 x 16” $200

Day 67 watercolor, pen and ink 12 x 16” $200

Day 72 watercolor, pen and ink 12 x 16” $200

Day 70 watercolor, pen and ink 12 x 16” $200

CONTACT: ninalipkowitz@gmail.com website: www.ninalipkowitz.com

VIRTUAL GALLERY THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 15


Bruce Panock Abstract Tree

For this body of work, everything starts with the search for shapes and patterns in the landscape. When I get back to the computer I then mask out what doesn’t add to the subject. This could take days of effort. When the shapes and patterns have revealed themselves, Then I begin thinking about the background, the colors and the textures. It all evolves….or fails magnificently. —Bruce Panock

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Bruce Panock Windblown

VIRTUAL GALLERY


BRUCE PANOCK

Dead Tree Portrait

Each image is part of a limited edition.

Abstract Sky and Branches

There are several sizes available. Each piece is priced according to size. Images are unframed and printed on Hahnemuhle archival papers.

CONTACT: www.panockphotography.com bruce@panockphotography.com 917-287-8589

VIRTUAL GALLERY

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 17


CAROLYN NEWBERGER

Fandango

Watercolor collage 15 x 22” $2,400.00

What are we doing? Where are we going? Watercolor, charcoal and collage 36 x 42’ $4,500.00

CONTACT:  www.carolynnewberger.com cnewberger@me.com 617-877-5672 18 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

VIRTUAL GALLERY


JANET PUMPHREY

White on White 18X24 $450

Sunrise over Stockbridge Bowl 22X29” $700 16 x 21” Printed on glass $550

Statue of Liberty 13X19” $400

Calla Lilies 23X34” $900

Other sizes soon available, contact Janet

CONTACT:  www.JanetPumphrey.com

VIRTUAL GALLERY THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 19


Katrin Waite The Traveler

2020, 12x16” Mixed media, gold and oil on canvas $350

Katrin Waite The Unsigned Letter

2019, 12x12”

Oil on canvas $350

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VIRTUAL GALLERY


KATRIN WAITE

The Town 2017, 16x16” Acrylic, oil & copper on canvas $600

CONTACT: The Eternal River 10x10” Acrylic, oil and copper on canvas $300

rigasvelns@gmail.com www.katrinwaite.com instagram: @katrinwaite Tel. 518-223 3069

VIRTUAL GALLERY THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 21


Alex Kamaroff Photo: Edward Acker

ALEX KAMAROFF ARTIST / GALLERIST INTERVIEW BY HARRYET CANDEE PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDWARD ACKER

Alex, can you start off by telling us about your life as an artist and how it all began for you? Alex Kamaroff: My first awareness of art was the sweet memory of being put on the Long Island Railroad by my parents, and my grandmother picking me up at Penn Station. She would take me anywhere in New York City that I wanted to go. And the places I wanted to go were the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. She would wait while I wandered the galleries, soaking up colors and shapes without judgment. I knew only that I liked it. To me, it wasn’t modern art. It was just art. Years later, I delved into art history at Columbia, where I studied all kinds of art from all kinds of perspectives. It did not occur to me to try to paint myself. I didn’t think anyone could seriously compete with the masters, and I didn’t think I had it in me. Fast forward to about ten years ago. I was carrying a can of green paint, some old stiff brushes and a piece of plywood to the trash. I accidentally spilled some paint on the plywood and was sur22 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

prised at what I saw. There was an interesting shape there, kind of like a Jackson Pollack blip. Out of curiosity, I took a stiff brush and after a few dips into the paint can, tossed it in the air. Before it reached the canvas, it took on a specific shape. And when it hit the surface of the plywood it took on a whole new meaning. I experimented further with larger brushes, and again each toss of the paint came down in a different shape. The next stop was Home Depot, where I bought more colors and a lot of brushes. One more stop at Michael’s for canvas and I was hooked. I did about twenty-five paintings, threw out twenty and actually sold a few to friends and local businesses. Needless to say, my basement where I did my painting was a total mess. It wasn’t long before I began using painter’s tape and acrylics and soft brushes that I became a hard edge painter. I’ll cover that in a few questions later when I talk about my technique. I understand you are also part of a literary agency.

My wife, Irene Goodman, started her eponymous agency in 1978 when we were living in a 4th floor walkup in New York City. We were young and we didn’t have any money. The place was tiny and there was no room for an office, so I built a loft in the bedroom area. We slept in the loft and Irene’s office was underneath it. Meanwhile, romance novels had begun to sell like crazy. Irene was becoming an established agent, but romance novels were so lucrative that we decided to try writing one ourselves. One day she made up some characters and needed a plot. I had a zillion story ideas in my head, and before long, we had a so-so novel, which Irene represented and sold. Back then, most romance authors took on a pseudonym and we were no exception. We needed a name, so we used our cat’s name. We believed that pets should have their own last name, so our cat was named Dinah Morgenstern. We shortened that to Diana Morgan, and an author was born. I came up with plots, and Irene did the editing. We got pretty good at it, winning a few awards and writing twenty-one in all. But it also seemed


Alex in his gallery, Gendale Brook Studio, Lenox, Massachusetts

I was something of a talent scout. I was good at finding authors who needed representation. I found some major bestsellers in the “slush pile” and still give it a go when I can. A few years ago, I discovered a family memoir by Michael Bornstein, who had survived the Auschwitz death camp at the age of four. The book was written by his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat. It is an unforgettable story, and it made the NY Times bestseller list. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. When I learned that it had made the Times list, I wept. I will say one thing about the slush pile. Thousands of authors write to Irene each year, and I try to find the needle in the haystack. Out of tens of thousands of wannabe novelists, in over forty years I only found a few. They were gems, but they were a tiny fraction of what came in. That is because I look for only bestseller quality books. Those are the odds, friends. The agency grew and grew, and today Irene has six terrific agents working with her in an office in Chelsea. Between them all, there have been a myriad of bestsellers and I continue to look for those gems.

The working studio of Alex, lots of tape!

Photo: Edward Acker

Photo: Edward Acker

Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 23


ALEX KAMAROFF

Publisher’s Pick: Alex Kamaroff Suggestion acrylic on canvas 48 x 48”

What was it like for you to open a gallery in Lenox in which you can focus on creating your art and showcasing to an audience that is very enthusiastic and geared towards seeking out great art and music during the summer season, and fall, and all other times? It was like self-publishing a book. Only a fool would do that, right?. But just as Irene had agented our novels, I figured I could take a shot at owning a gallery with just my paintings in it. But the real reason I opened a gallery was because I got a great location, right next door to the WIT Gallery on Church Street in Lenox. The traffic in and out was tremendous. I paint on my table in front of a huge glass window. I not only get a view of the street, but people see me painting. I’ve had artists ask me to show them how I paint a perfect circle or simply how I paint. My sales force of three clean my brushes and prepare my canvases with gesso to make them smooth and to prevent leaks from sneaking under the tape. My favorite audience is the children. They love watching me. Sometimes I’ll even let them place the tape down on the canvas and paint a shape. Then I’ll do something with it and you should see the wide-eyed looks I get for doing that. Add to this my favorite jazz stations playing all day long and I’m in heaven.

Publisher’s Pick: Alex Kamaroff Order acrylic on canvas 36 x 36”

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What was your interests that kept you busy during your childhood? Where did you grow up? Long Beach, Long Island, NY. Talk about beaches in the


Alex in studio completing canvas Photo: Edward Acker

summer, surfing. horseback riding on the beach, a four-mile boardwalk to ride your bike along the beach. At low tide when the sand was hard you could ride your bike along the water’s edge. I had ten great friends in high school and a girlfriend as well. But the mainstay of my growing up were those trips into New York to visit my grandmother. She had no real interest in art, but she took me to any museum I wanted, and she would cook whatever I wanted. My grandfather frowned on this and once hung me out the window (they lived on the first floor) because I was such a nuisance. But she adored me. What do you find most valuable about living and working in the Berkshires? We own an apartment in New York, but ever since the pandemic we’ve been marooned in the Berkshires. Not that it’s such a bad place to be. Here we are, stuck under the longest waterfall in the state, Glendale Falls, which is where I got the name for my gallery. It drops down onto my property, and flows into the Westfield River, right across the road from our house. We are surrounded by forty thousand acres of state land and our nearest neighbor is over a half mile down the road. In other words, we are isolated, but we have neighbors and we are in one of the most beautiful

places we can imagine. Not too shabby. I call my home the space shuttle. It has everything we need to survive whatever nature throws at us. I have solar sun power to cut my electric bill to nothing, a generator when the power is out, and a makeshift elevator to carry my supply of winter wood in the basement up to and through the upper floor of my dining room. I never have to carry wood up the stairs to the fireplace in the living room. I also have an indoor exercise pool. I attach a harness to my waist and swim in place. My wife uses our sunroom for an office, where she gets a three-way view of the Berkshires. What it’s like living and working in the Berkshires? In a word, beautiful. The land is beautiful. The gardens are beautiful. The river across the road is beautiful. The hills are beautiful. The New England stone walls (which I built myself) are beautiful. In short, we are in paradise. And where am I all this time while the sun is shining? Down in my basement, content to just paint happily. All my paints are neatly arranged by color. I’m obsessive about how I arrange things. It’s my man cave. After a day’s work, I sit on my basement couch, open a bottle of beer, light up a cigar and I’m very, very, very, happy and content with my life. So, tell us. Can you describe the process of

your art making? Tell us how you go about it from mindset to final product. First off, I never had any formal training when it came to painting. In fact, I couldn’t draw a stick figure if I wanted to. There had to be a better way for me to progress as an artist. Tossing paint was getting boring and redundant. That’s when I took some painters edging tape and framed the canvas. I guess I was curious to see the result of a controlled paint toss, but it turned into so much more. It was a perfectly framed Pollock-style painting. And that’s when hard edge painting was born for me forever. I got rid of the Home Depot paint, switched to acrylics, and converted the lighting in my basement. I also had huge, heavy tables built so I could work on as many as four canvases at once. The number of paint brushes I have is dizzying, and I must have bought enough different size tape to get me to the moon and back at least three times. From that day on I never painted anything on any canvas without first laying down tape as a 100% boundary. The paint goes only inside the boundary. Over the years I became an expert when it came to tape size. I use 1/8 to 1/4 inch tape to actually draw snakes and circles, being careful to lay three-inch tape over the outer edge to prevent paint from spilling onto the canvas. Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 25


ALEX KAMAROFF

Alex Kamaroff

Pacing is everything to me. It’s like a well-spun novel or a comedian telling a joke. A painting has to have “intensity and resolve”. That’s what my best friend and art companion, James Hendricks, used to say. James was a special friend in my life until he passed away a few years go, but that’s another story. I suppose I should start by explaining that I never know what I’m going to paint, but I always paint something to start my engine. I never got writer’s block and I do not worry about what I’ll paint next. I just paint. But here’s the catch. I found the greatest twentieth century artists who let me steal all their ideas and motifs. Picasso put it best. “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” You could say I’m one heck of a thief. I began by copying the masters in order to learn technique. But before long I was combining styles or weaving in new ones in order to put my own stamp on it. When people come into my gallery, they usually say the same thing: “I love your colors!” The more astute recognize the styles of Kandinsky, Glarner, Miro, Nagi, Mondrian, and many others. Sometimes I’ll combine Miro with Kandinsky. But most of all I love to paint Nagi see-throughs. An example would be a blue circle maintaining its perfect shape, while a red rectangle passing through goes darker or lighter. You still see the illusion of the circle's edge, but the rectangle passing through maintains its original shape as well. I’m not trying to be Picasso or Kandinsky or 26 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

Photo: Edward Acker

Glarner. I can never be them. I can only be me. But let me put it this way. If you would love to own a Matisse but don’t want to spend several millions of dollars to get one, try a Kamaroff. It’s a way to have original art in your home (as opposed to a poster—you’re not in college anymore) that flirts with the same style and doesn’t cost a fortune. Over the years I have thrown out over five hundred paintings. Now I’m sorry I did that. I should have kept a few of the better ones, but I’m my own worst critic. But here’s something funny. The people who live in my town take my thrown-out paintings and keep them. Whenever I’d go into a neighbor’s home, there would be something I had tossed in the garbage, now hanging on their wall! They think I’ll be famous one day and their paintings of mine will be worth millions. I appreciate their belief in me! They are far from right, of course, but here’s the catch. When I first began selling my paintings, I got maybe a hundred dollars for one. Koto, the Japanese restaurant in Pittsfield, has three of my paintings hanging on the wall that were destined for the garbage dump. My friend took them inside and was given $150 total. Go figure, huh? I sold a few to my car salesman and they are still hanging in his office. The former Dakota in Pittsfield has one even after it closed. The new owners have it. It was inside over the fireplace last time I was in there. Times have changed and having a gallery

changed everything. In the past two years my gallery has sold my paintings and getting good but reasonable prices. I have a short season of less than four months a year. In the span of two years I sold over 28 paintings. Three of them sold right after we opened for the summer of 2020. I was fearful that no one would come in because of the pandemic, but people seeme delighted to be out, buying beautiful things and being out in the world. What kind of feedback do you generally get from people on your art? The feedback is mostly positive. Everyone seems to love my intense, vivid colors. Sometimes they will make a snarky remark along the lines of “This is too much like a Kandinsky.” I find that to be a compliment, so I just say thank you. Where does your ideas for each canvas generate from? Who and what influences you in your creating abilities and ideas? I don’t really know. I don’t think too much, which is good. I just start painting and watch where it takes me. I may know which influence I want to concentrate on today, but that could change. I’m always experimenting, always learning something new. Sometimes I wonder what to do next, so I ask Kandinsky. He’s a good imaginary friend to have around when I can use a good idea or one of his motifs. Nagi is also a favorite and I always have


Publisher’s Pick: Alex Kamaroff Miro’s Blues 36 x 36”

to give credit to Mondrian if I run into trouble. There are many others, but all and all, I’m always consulting the artists who came before. I should mention a living brilliant artist whose motifs may show up in my work. Look up my best new imaginary friend, and teacher, Julie Mehretu. She is a true superstar. I cannot compete with her. But her influence is invaluable. If I run into a problem, she’s a great help. That’s why I never have trouble coming up with ideas and motifs when I’m painting. I have the artists I admire most to help me. I bet you are involved in other artists lives, assisting them in their exposure to the art world? Okay, now we’re going to talk about James Hendricks. I had just gotten back from Paris in 2015, when a strange email showed up on my computer. “My Orkin exterminator man told me you’re an artist like me. Call me.” He said his name was James Hendricks, and he lived In Northampton, about forty-five minutes away, so I figured I could say hello. The fact is that most people who try to paint aren’t that good. That’s not a judgment. It’s just a fact. And of course, it’s all very subjective. But that’s what I thought when I got his email. I figured he was just some shmo who thought he could paint. I even became cocky about it. At that time, I KNEW I wasn’t that good. I was still growing and learning. I knew I wasn’t ready to try to sell, not seriously. And I assumed this James Hendricks would be the

same. If he thought he was a real artist, well, I knew better. And I imagined that I was somehow superior, because at least I knew I sucked. Did he? The moment I walked into his house, I knew how very wrong I had been. This man was brilliant. I almost fell to my knees in awe. On one wall was a mind-blowing painting. It was twelve by sixty feet long. Try to imagine that. A painting that takes over a room and shuts everything else down. It was filled with daring images, intense colors, and an eternal sense of outer space. I later learned that it had been exhibited at the Air & Space Museum in the Smithsonian. We instantly became close friends. He had been an art history and painting teacher at U Mass for over thirty years and had been friends with de Kooning and Chuck Close and other famous artists. If I had any formal training, it was him, and his mentorship was invaluable. I called it Wednesdays with James. Every week for two years I sat with him in his studio and we would talk for hours and hours about anything and everything, without ever once repeating ourselves. He always had his age-old scotch, and I had my beer and we both had our cigars. He taught me about every great modern artist and introduced me to many I had never heard of. He was my mentor, my friend, and my guide. He died two years later. I miss him every single day. What artist are you feeling most supportive of

at this time, and why? How are you helping this person? How do we see their art? You want the name of another brilliant artist? After an exhaustive gallery tour in New York’s Chelsea district, I came upon the work of Regina Scully. She is an artist in New Orleans. This happened after I had seen a lot of crap, and more crap. Just because something hangs in a gallery in Chelsea doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, most of it isn’t. But Regina stood out--brilliantly. I was offered one of her paintings, but the gallery in question kept changing the price on me every time I called. Meanwhile, I was invited to hang my paintings at Canyon Ranch, a high end spa in Lenox that sells art, and instead made a deal for Regina to be shown there in my place. I can do Canyon Ranch another time, and she’s way ahead of me. Her paintings are in museums. In fact, she had a painting at the New Orleans Museum of Art that now hangs at Canyon Ranch, asking $80,000. Sideline this story and back to sitting with James a few days later. I showed him the photos of over fifty paintings I took when I was cruising the Chelsea galleries. He saw them all and agreed with me that they were lousy, to be blunt. “Ahhh,” he held up a photo of Regina’s Wandering City. “Now this is great art,” he said. It seems that my knack for finding that needle in the haystack extends to art as well. Today Regina is my new James. Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 27


ALEX KAMAROFF

Alex talks shop while photographer, Edward snaps away

We are good artist friends and talk often on the phone. What has been your opinion of how the Berkshires is dealing with Corona during the summertime when we have so much that has been cancelled. We are creative minds, and we find ways of resolving and making things work. Do you agree? How so for you? I thought this virus would kill my business so I opened up late in the season on July 1st. Four hours into the start of my season I sold a painting. Then a few days later another. Then another and now I have a fourth sale pending. We’re talking all within less than a week. Go figure. As for the town of Lenox, everyone is wearing a mask and being careful. We insist that anyone entering the gallery wears a mask. But for the Berkshires in general…it’s closed. No plays, no concerts, no Jacobs Pillow, no nothing. That’s bad for business. But it’s summer. People have been cooped up inside for too long. So, we risk it. So far, the virus has stayed away from my home, in the hill towns. I wait and hope for the vaccine. What is your family life like? What does your family have that you feel is important in life? Irene and I have been together for over 42 years. I’m not easy to live with. But we know each other to the point where there are times in our conversations where we don’t have to finish a sentence. We can quote a ton of movies and have had conversations that seem to consist entirely of movie lines. She’s had to deal with a lot when it comes to me. I’m bipolar, and that’s not easy for anyone. The statistics say that 75% of all bipolar marriages end in divorce. But not us. For one thing, we were meant to be, and that’s all there is to it. But we have also refused to let a beast of an illness have the final word. Sometimes it wins battles and 28 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

sometimes we win, but mostly we win. We see it for what it is and we do everything in our power to keep it locked in its cage. My daughter is a stay at home mom and she seems to have a real gift for that. My grandson is four and has never had a haircut. He looks like a wild thing. It’s a pandemic hair style for sure. He holds his hair to the side with one hand and plays with his blocks with the other hand. He’s starting to have hair as long as mine was in the sixties. But it’s my son that keeps me up at night. He has Usher Syndrome. That means he’s mostly deaf and is also going blind. Yes. You read that right. He had a Cochlear implant, and that helps a lot with the hearing, but there is nothing they can do about the diminishing vision. He does use drops that seem to stem the inevitable. He lives in his own place in New York and gets around pretty well. The future is uncertain. Irene does literary critiques for charities. She’ll read and critique the first three chapters of a novel for a fee that is donated to the Hearing Health Foundation or the Foundation Fighting Blindness. You can check this out on her web site. The auctions are posted on a web site called CharityBuzz.com. Alex, tell us about a great challenge you have endured and how you came through with successfulness? Okay, that’s a rough one. As I said, I’m bipolar. There were times when I felt that I used the hypo part of that to paint, build my house, construct a one-thousand foot-long New England stone wall, and create a forty-ton stone wall garden. In my youth, I was a runner and came close to breaking a four-minute mile. At age forty I did a 5K race in less than twenty minutes. But if hypomania helped, there was a big price to pay. The depressions would come at me like a monstrous cloud and wipe me out. People think

they know what depression is, but this kind of depression is not even describable. It brings on a pain like nothing I have ever known. It’s not that life is bad, but this depression steals all joy from my soul. But for some reason I can still paint when I’m down. Painting soothes me. When I’m painting, I’m in another zone. Many creative people suffer from depression. If you are an artist struggling with it, I urge you to pick up that brush. It might help. Mania is the real danger point. I become fragmented in my thinking. I won’t list the symptoms here, but trust me, I’ve had every one of them. I have a wonderful therapist and an excellent psychiatrist who are a great help. It’s been a while since I had a manic stint, but I’m as stabilized as I can be thanks to mood stabilizers, my doctors, and my wife. And I believe that my painting plays a huge role in keeping me in check. Still, I always have to keep a lookout for that monster within me. My wife and my doctors are my touchstones. I have to trust them when they notice a dangerous change in my mood. Aside from making visual art, on the canvas, what other interests do you participate in? Any music playing? Cooking? Gardening? I’ve always been a trumpet player. I also play flugelhorn. I was born with perfect pitch and love to relax playing along with the jazz on my radio. I love listening to jazz while I paint as well What do you plan on coming up over the next year or so in terms of your gallery and the artists you represent, and for your own self? Have your ideas changed in order to work with the Corona virus factor in play? I would love to find more great artists such as James or Regina. What issues do you ponder on the most these


A favorite past time, playing the trumpet. Alex plays for photographer, Edward Acker

days? When do you do your best in-depth thinking and where would that be? I love to fantasize while drinking a beer and smoking a cigar in my basement. Just random ideas and stories and things I may write about one day. Or not! The jazz is always on, but sometimes I get carried away by great classical music. Give me a beer and some Mozart, and I’m a happy guy. What makes you happy? My wife says that my paintings represent the best, happiest side of me—the person I was truly meant to be, without bipolar crap, and without life’s slings and arrows. They seem to come from a place of joy. Have you travelled to any places that have left a lifetime impression on you? Tell us about it! Paris! Here’s a story. I was walking on the Boulevard St. Germain and happened upon an artist doing a wonderful pen and ink rendition of the street and hotel where we stayed. I handed him some money and gave him my New York City address for him to mail it to me when he finished it. I arrived home in New York to find it in the mail. Anything is possible, do you think? I believe that I can do anything within reason that I put my mind to. I have, however, tried many things I couldn’t do. I stink at carving anything from a huge chunk of wood, for example. Stone carving was also a bust. Try though I might, I could not center a piece of clay on a potter’s wheel. Don’t ask me to draw anything. I cannot paint anything unless I use tape. I cannot run anymore, so I swim. Swimming is good for my head and its great exercise. Here’s what they’ll write on my epitaph: “I NEVER SAID I COULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE, WOULD HAVE.”

What have you learned from life so far that you would tell your children and everyone? JUST DO IT! Where would you like to see yourself in five years from now? ALIVE…I’ll leave the rest to chance. What has been your experience hanging Regina’s works of art up at Canyon Ranch? How was the physical experience, hanging can be tricky for some of us! It was an honor getting her into CANYON RANCH. I have a great carpenter, Andy Stevens, who hangs all the paintings at my gallery. He and I took Regina to the Ranch and got them up in a few hours. They are incredible paintings. One of them hung at the New Orleans Museum of Art for six months. I’m very proud of her. When it comes to anything that has to do with her art being shown, she’s a real pro. I learned a lot about the art world from her. And I promise you this. One day she will be hailed as one of the greatest artists of her generation. If you were to have three wishes granted, what would they be? That a scientist comes to me and guarantees that if I give him all my earthly possessions, he will cure my son. Okay, that’s wish number one. For my second wish, I want my possessions back. And finally, I wish to live up until my 100th birthday. Tell us what you think is the most alarming issues the art world is facing today? Do you have any solutions? Do you think they take down statues? What is your opinion? This virus wiped out the art world. Nearly 10,000 galleries all over the world are closed. ARTFORUM magazine reduced their 11 issues a year down to eight. Museums are closed. It’s a tragedy.

I am very blessed that my gallery in Lenox can be open.Statues? Let’s put it this way. I’d hate to know that a statue of Adolph Hitler adorned Berlin. So I understand how hurtful symbols can be. The confederate flag is like a Nazi Swastika. It has no place in this world.When does it go from political to just plain art? I’ve seen some disgusting “art” at MOCA and other museums. I won’t say what, but it was not art. And Duchamp readymades like a stool with a wheel attached is not art. I could write a book about what is art, but I think I’ll stick with painting.This brings me to one of my final art courses when I was at Columbia. It was a discussion class, consisting of three art majors and a professor. We met for five hours a week for fifteen weeks in a small lounge with one painting projected onto a screen. The focus was on just that one painting by NICOLAS POUSSIN, titled ET IN ARCADIA EGO. And the discussion for fifteen weeks centered on one question: “Why is this a masterpiece?” We had to use all our vast knowledge from all our art history courses to answer that one question. I received an A+ for that course. Next to my grade the professor wrote, “you taught me.” I guess that is why I’m a talent scout. I don’t know where I got it from, but it’s there. You look around you, smile, and say: It’s good to be alive. Thank you! Glendale Brook Studio 27 Church St. Lenox, MA 01240 413-551-7475 | 413-623-5081 glendalebrookstudio@gmail.com www.glendalebrookstudio.com

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 29


SALEM ART WORKS Salem Art Works (SAW), has made a series of recent property improvements to help welcome visitors to the Cary Hill Sculpture park. These improvements are designed to ease in accessibility for guests and will help set SAW up for next season’s programming. Improvement projects include: • A new road behind Barn 2 • New walkways throughout the campus • Roofs on the tent platforms • Regrading of steep areas of the landscape • Improvements to the pond for easier access • Enclosing the welding bays to offer yearround access While SAW’s general programming for the public and artist residencies is on hold, the sculpture park offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature among world-class artwork and bucolic views of Vermont’s Green Mountains and surrounding Washington County, New York. The park features mostly open terrain that can be walked or driven, allowing ease of social distancing and maintaining health protocols. Like any organization, SAW recommends that all visitors observe the recommended person-to-person distance of at least 6 feet and to wear masks when close to others from different households. The sculpture park is free and open from dawn to dusk daily. Salem Art Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art center and sculpture park located in rural Upstate New York. Founded in 2005 by artist Anthony Cafritz, Salem Art Works is dedicated to supporting both emerging and established artists in the creation of new and progressive work, as well as promoting the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art within the region. Salem Art Works – www.salemartworks.org 518-854-7674

SIPAPU, 2020, 18+18 INCHES, MIXED MEDIA & OXIDIZED COPPER ON GALLERY WRAPPED CANVAS

KATRIN WAITE THE SEARCH FOR THE CENTER Approximately 2 years ago I started to take classes in Calligraphy. Chinese calligraphy, taught by a strict but gentle master who made his way from Southern China to Berlin. The symbols that were and remain strange to me did give me an answer to many of my questions during my long years of painting: Balance. Since I began to paint in early childhood my eyes wandered over the playground that I planned to turn into a wonder world. This empty space was a treasure and an invitation, but also frightening. I lost my shyness when facing an unpainted canvas, Yet, turning lines, dots, colors, texture into a world of magic and stories remained a challenge. As everything in life, art is balance, lives from balance and plays with it. First, I learned to choose the right colors and combine them. The next step was the long path of mastering the medium -- acrylic, oil, mixed media, metal, rust, everything what nature offers. The themes that move me require not only to use the complexity of material but also create balance on the space I am turning into a field of art. As every story, a piece of art needs contrasts that contribute to its balance. I learned that creating balance is impossible without including a certain amount of dis-balance. Breaking the field, the texture, the color-field with dots, lines or even an empty place is part of the path that leads to balance. It is impossible to find the center without disturbing the harmony of its parts. The deliberate disturbing, disrupting, and destruction of balance is the hardest part in the process of creation. It takes bravery. I never am disappointed. We are all searching for the center. Art can offer an answer to the viewer, the elusive Balance. Perhaps though only for a moment. To contact Katrin, rigasvelns@gmail.com /www.katrinwaite.com instagram: @katrinwaite / 518-223 3069

Take time to promote your art ... artful mind can help! artfulmind@yahoo.com

30 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

JOAN GRISWOLD

BERKSHIRE DIGITAL Since opening in 2005, Berkshire Digital has done fine art printing for artists and photographers. Giclée prints can be made in many different sizes from 5”x7” to 42”x 80” on a variety of archival paper choices. Berkshire Digital was featured in last Summer’s issue of PDN magazine in an article about fine art printing. See the entire article on the BerkshireDigital.com website. Berkshire Digital does accurate hi-res photoreproductions of paintings and illustrations that can be used for Giclée prints, books, magazines, brochures, cards and websites. “Fred Collins couldn’t have been more professional or more enjoyable to work with. He came to my studio, set everything up, and did a beautiful job in photographing a ton of paintings carefully, efficiently, and so accurately. It’s such a great feeling to know I have these beautiful, useful files on hand anytime I need them. I wish I’d called Fred years ago.” ---- Ann Getsinger We also offer restoration and repair of damaged or faded photographs. A complete overview of services offered, along with pricing, can be seen on the web at BerkshireDigital.com Another service offered is portraits of artists in their studios, or wherever they would like, for use in magazines, as the author’s picture in a book, websites or cards. See samples of artist portraits on our website. The owner, Fred Collins, has been a commercial and fine art photographer for over 30 years having had studios in Boston, Stamford, and the Berkshires. He offers over 25 years of experience with Photoshop, enabling retouching, restoration and enhancement to prints and digital files. The studio is located in Mt Washington but drop-off and pick-up is available through Frames On Wheels, 84 Railroad Street in Great Barrington, MA (413) 528-0997 and Gilded Moon Framing, 17 John Street in Millerton, NY (518) 789-3428. Berkshire Digital - 413 644-9663, or go online to www.BerkshireDigital.com


MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATION

SCHANTZ GALLERIES CREATIVE JOURNEYS: A CELEBRATION IN GLASS From August 6 - 30 “Creative Journeys,” an exhibition of glass sculpture by international artists Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg can be seen – virtually online and in real life, by appointment, at Schantz Galleries in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The tools and techniques that Philip and Monica use to make their deceptively simple glass objects have scarcely changed since Roman times. Philip was born in New York and Monica in Switzerland. They began working together in 1979 as students at the Orrefors Glass School in Sweden followed by two years in Småland, the Swedish forest known as “Kingdom of Glass”. The centerpiece of the August exhibition at the Schantz Galleries, “A Multicultural Celebration,” is comprised of a sleek aluminum base in the form of a boat containing some 20 blown and carved vessels in clear glass as well as ones in shades of gold and teal blue. It is similar to the one at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, in Denmark and, like so many of Philip and Monica’s pieces, the vessels call to mind sentient beings. The other works in the show have been chosen from two principal groups of their freestanding pieces. The Species Novae are brightly colored like the pieces in the boat and are indeed riffs on human personalities in all their colorful quirky attributes. The Monolithi - pairs of abstract crimson and black sculptures that stand proudly at attention on wooden pedestals - are more serious, yet also quixotic, much as more serious humans often are. They all form part of our human drama, in both its extravagance as well as its sobriety. Philip and Monica say “The exhibition with The Schantz Galleries is a chance for us to return to the intimate expression within our oeuvre and life's work, individual blown and cut objects, deeply respectful of a long and magnificent tradition in craftsmanship and beauty, which we have always tried to honor, even as our larger body of work is increasingly socially motivated in the context of our times.” The Schantz Galleries, located in the center of historic Stockbridge, Massachusetts, exhibits some of the finest artists working in glass today. Open Thursday – Sunday, by appointment: 413.298.3044; www.schantzgalleries.com

YELLOWSTONE 12, OIL ON CANVAS, 40”X36”

VIRGINIA BRADLEY TRAIN STATION DOG

ALBERT PALEY: GLASS AND STEEL SCHANTZ GALLERIES With the steel rails of the track running along outside the historical train station, Schantz Galleries proudly presents Albert Paley: Glass and Steel, celebrating the work of one of the most distinguished and influential metal sculptors in the world. Jim Schantz and Albert Paley have curated a collection of ten sculptures incorporating both steel and glass that show the two materials in graceful synergy. Some of the glass elements used in this exhibition resulted from his 2014 year-long residency at the Corning Museum of Glass, some were made in conjunction with well-known glass artists such as Martin Blank and William Carlson, and several sculptures were created expressly for this exhibition, before the artist closed his shop this past winter. Paley is most widely known for his fortyyear career creating monumental outdoor metal sculptures, each one carefully designed to play off its environment and invite passersby into contemplation. While he is steadfast in his intention for his work-that it be "a sensual and intellectual dialogue"-he also believes that through research and experimentation he can push the limits of his medium, and through aesthetic flexibility he can continue to evolve as a visual artist. As he says: "We don't have stasis in our minds so why should it exist in our artwork." Paley has said, "there is a vocabulary of form for any given medium. The more technically proficient one becomes, the more they can explore." He likens that exploration to a dance, in which there is a sense of the choreography but also a sense of letting go and moving unconsciously to the music. The transformation from station to gallery is beautifully executed and well suited to this important exhibition, located at 2 Depot Street in Stockbridge, MA Per guidelines from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Stockbridge Station and Schantz Galleries are now open by appointment, by calling 413-298-3044 or appointments can easily be made online at schantzgalleriesschedule.as.me/, for Thursday through Sunday. www.schantzgalleries.com

Virginia Bradley has been awarded the 2020 Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist Fellowship in Painting. In receiving the award, Bradley made the following comments: “I am very honored to have had my Yellowstone Painting Series recognized with a Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist Painting Fellowship. It is particularly significant to me, as I have been dedicating myself to my studio practice since moving to the Berkshires three years ago. The award affirms the direction I am taking in my work: delving into abstraction through research into natural phenomena and global warming, while introducing alchemical reactions into painting process. After teaching in academia for 36 years I have found a new life living and working in the Berkshires. “The Yellowstone Series references the Fountain Paint Pots in the Gibbon Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Thermal features in the basin include over 50 springs, geysers, vents and mud pots. The behavior of the thermal activity changes in relationship to seasons of the year and the amount of subterranean water. Climate change is having an adverse effect on the geysers. Less rainfall leads to less pressure on the on the geyser reservoirs which mean fewer eruptions. Already the amount of geyser eruptions has dramatically decreased. Eventually the geysers could completely disappear. “The paintings seek to convey the delicate and ephemeral state of these natural wonders, that are about to be destroyed by one of the most serious issues of our time. Shades of blue, red, yellow, orange, grey and brown are present in the water and mud creating varying combinations of textures and color. The differing colors are derived from oxidation of the iron in the mud. Rising gases and heat cause the bubbling action in the Paint Pots. These paintings depart from photographs I took at Basin after the first snow had fallen. The very cold nights were contrasted with warm days, which created a rich, steamy and colorful world to investigate. The larger works reference the mystic world of the geyser steam and the smaller works are intimate views looking into the Paint Pots.” The complete series can be seen on her website. Virginia Bradley - www.virginiabradley.com

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 31


Moksha and Jemal Wade Photo: Tim Bonea

The Beautiful Music of

HuDost

MOKSHA AND JEMAL WADE Can you give us a few stanzas, like a poem, of one of your songs that has a story? And can we listen to it at the same time? Tell us how we can do this, please. Moksha: We are releasing a bunch of new music in the coming months and a lot of these songs have been written in this time of isolation. The first single, “This Is How My Story Ends”--which addresses the triggers that many people are struggling with during these tumultuous times and what people can do to claim their own stories--will be released on Friday, July 31. This song marks the beginning of a slew of singles that will be released every six weeks for the next several months. These releases will include “How Many Miles,” a song that addresses how far many of us have journeyed from our true selves and what it means to come home to our greater purpose (this song includes The Accidentals as guest performers), and “I Cannot Breathe” which is a song applauding the work of collective advocacy and activism in this time. Here are the lyrics (written by Sommer) for “How Many Miles” (it will be available on the HuDost website and through social media): How many miles from home are we, from home are we from home? How many days from gone are we, f rom gone are we from gone? Our compass lost, our treasure found, but not inside our hearts 32 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

How many miles from home are we, from home are we from home? How many lies from truth are we, and how many truths from lies? How much nothing must we buy to think that we have worth? We have everything we need but still we ask for more How many meals from full are we, from full are we, from full? How many songs from sung are we, from sung are we from song? How many voices calling, “please”, calling, “please belong”? I long for you, your words construe the Babylon of dream How many songs from sung are we, from sung are we from song? Oh…break up the old fight Oh, find our way home All we are is nothing What I know now, is what to forgo Oh…break to the new light oh, break the door down Bring me nothing more You are my word as we go

How would you describe your music? What does HuDost mean? Moksha: HuDost is a Turkish Sufi greeting. It can be broken down into two words, “Hu” and “Dost”. Hu is the breath/sound of the divine and Dost means true friend. So, together it is the true friend of the divine breath/sound. Jemal Wade: So yes, it’s kind of a ‘Sufi Namaste’ acknowledging the ‘true friend of the One Being’ in another. What instruments are usually or not usually involved? Who plays what? Moksha: I sing lead on everything and Jemal sings harmonies. In live performances I play harmonium, keys, and do live-vocal looping. Jemal plays guitars, percussion, does sampling and looping, and plays occasional keys. We love to create a huge live sound even as a duo. In the studio we include all kinds of additional instruments such as bass, strings, horns, drums, percussion, etc. We are very fortunate to have an amazing community of guest musicians that we adore collaborating with and including both as guests for live performances and in the studio. Jemal Wade: I dabble in numerous things and really enjoy production. Our studio creations are always multi-layered and I’ve really been loving programming with synths and samples in our most recent creations. Do both of you sing? How is that divided up while


HuDost in Tulsa Woody Guthrie Photo: Phil Clarkin

performing? Moksha: We do both sing. I sing almost all of the leads. Jemal has a really beautiful supportive voice and does wonderful harmonies. Once in a blue moon he will sing lead on something. Jemal Wade: I sing lead on a couple of tracks on our debut, a couple of tracks on our 4th Way Folk album and one called ‘All My Guitars’ on our Trapeze album which is a favorite of mine. I dreamt that song! Vocally I prefer to be in the blendy supportive role harmonically. You guys are living in Kentucky right now. What are your connection with the Berkshires? Moksha: We lived in the Berkshires for several years. In that time we were also partially in Canada and touring a great deal but the Berkshires was the place we kept returning to. There is an amazing art and spiritual community in the Berkshires and we felt a genuine sense of home there. When we decided to have a child we knew it was tine to leave as we wanted to be with family for this phase of our lives. Whenever we now tour through the Berkshires it still inspires that feeling. There is a real magic in both the land and the people. Jemal Wade: Yes, we lived at the Abode for about 5 years and then also lived in Hancock right near Jiminy Peak for a few years as well. We built many long lasting friendships in the Berkshires and have continued to creatively work with folks there like Linda Worster, Oakes & Smith, John de Kadt and others. We try to return at least once a year and do a show and visit. The Berkshires are definitely one of our homes. Jemal and Moksha, you have a beautiful relationship. What can you say makes it work for the two of you? Moksha: Thank you! Being in a relationship that combines love, intimacy, creative and practical work, and parenthood demands that we be willing

to be truly honest and committed. We have both needed to work deeply on facing our individual and combined challenges, healing our own family histories, and learning what it truly means to be patient and forgiving (with ourselves and each other). Removing the focus from expectation and returning to gratitude is a big part of my work. Jemal Wade: If you can believe it, as of 2020 we have known each other 20 years! It took about a year after first meeting for us to get together. Relationships are never easy and ours is wrapped up in both family & work so it surely is a graceful miracle that this still works and continues to grow. I would say one of the biggest keys is that neither one of us holds onto things for too long. We never go to bed mad at each other. We never let conflict drag on or give the silent treatment. We work on things as they arise. It’s super rare and I am so beyond grateful. There is no other person on earth that I would want to spend my life and have a son with truly. Your beautiful seven year old son is much of a focus as anything in your lives. How does he react to mom and dad as musicians? Moksha: Yes. He absolutely is a huge part of our focus and we completely adore him. He is smart, funny, and creative. When he was really little I had so many concerns about if it was ok to be touring with a little kid. We changed a lot of things regarding how we tour in order to make it kid-positive such as playing only family-friendly festivals, art, and yoga centers and pacing ourselves better than we had when it was just the two of us. We also decided to make sure there was plenty of time to go do educational and fun activities. Those changes were made for him but have been really beneficial to us too. It makes our lives more well-rounded. Any fears that I had about traveling and meeting tons of people no longer exist. The fact is, he is a wonderfully social kid who loves people of all ages, lifestyles, and origins. He has been exposed to a wealth of culture

and humans. And, he loves music. Like, really loves music. He is 7 and when he discovers a new musician or group that he likes, he wants to learn everything about them and listen to their full catalogue. If he doesn’t become a musician he may end up a music historian. Thankfully, he also really enjoys traveling and exploring new places. We are very fortunate and he is a huge blessing in our lives. Jemal Wade: I mean, we were touring with him in Moksha’s belly right up until the 3rd trimester when we moved back up to Canada and then started up again on the road when he was 3 months old, so he was already spending time at festivals at that point. He’s like me in that he wants to understand a musical artist’s entire discography and which years certain albums came out. He loves Michael Jackson, U2, Prince, David Bowie, INXS, Sweet and just keeps broadening his musical horizons. Truly he’s my favorite human being and a generally cool loving open dude. As Moksha said, since before he could even walk he was a socialite who loved to connect with people of all ages. He’s also lobbied with us on Capitol Hill in DC, so he’s already learning what it means to be a little advocate! These days, you have an on-line presence. Tell us about your live on live performances you are doing now? Moksha: We, like many other musicians, are having to adjust in major ways to the current conditions in relation to Covid. All of our 2020 performance/touring dates have been cancelled (which would have included North American dates as well as Europe and Africa). We have taken it as a challenge/inspiration to become very active in online performance. We received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to do an interdisciplinary art/dance/music piece with the choreographer Rebecca Steinberg and the artist Jana Harper. The piece was going to be performed live at the end of May but we rapidly Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 33


HuDost, Tahoe

adjusted and, instead, filmed all of the dancers in isolation and recorded the whole score and then premiered the piece online. We have also been doing regular live-streamed concerts. We just paired with the Levitt Foundation and Catamount Arts and did an online concert that was also shown at a drive-in movie theatre (so that attendees could remain in isolation but be part of a community event). There are several festivals that we are doing online performances with as well. And, we have set up a subscription service through our website and subscribers have access to private streamed sessions and access to songs that we will not be releasing to the public. We are learning and discovering a lot through this process and wonder what we will continue to do/use when things go back to normal. I actually think that this time period may forever change the event industry. Have you done any gigs side by side with any other musical groups? Was it fun? Moksha: Absolutely! We love playing festivals as it is one of the ways we discover other wonderful musicians. We have played tons of double bill shows with other groups/musicians and have also done several full tours with other groups. In general, we love collaborating with other musicians as it adds a whole new vocabulary to the music. On the tours that we have done with other groups what we generally do is play two separate sets comprised of the music of the two groups but also have each other as guests in the two sets. It is a wonderful way of cross-pollinating. Jemal Wade: We love collaborating! We’ve recently done some trio shows with Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay. There is some footage from our Nashville Bluebird Cafe show up on YouTube. I love sitting in with people and having people sit in with us. Studio wise we’ve also done a number of collaborations including doing a full album with Steve Kilbey from The Church and a co-written song with Jon Anderson from YES which was an amazing honor & joy to work on! We worked with 34 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

Dan & the guys from Jars on our most recent album ‘of Water + Mercy’ as well and have new songs coming out with special guests like guitarist Christie Lenee & an amazing up and coming group from Michigan called The Accidentals. We have some new chant material in the works as well that will feature guest appearances from Sean Johnson & Kaita; both amazing singers. In what ways do you find yourselves being spiritual-minded? Moksha: I guess that depends upon what is meant by being “spiritual-minded”. I am someone who has been drawn since an early age to explore in this capacity and ask a lot of questions. What I feel, at this point in my life, is that being “spiritual-minded” means simply being present, compassionate, and making decisions (both big and small on a daily basis) that consider the welfare of others and this planet. For the last several years we have done volunteer work for ONE (a non-profit working to end extreme poverty) by being congressional district representatives. I find this to be spiritual work. Eating plant based, trying to be conscious parents, making music, dancing, and simply living feel spiritual to me. Yes, I do meditate, but I don’t find it to be more spiritual than other aspects of my life. My most spiritual experiences seem to come at random times. Jemal Wade: The short simple answer is ‘through music’. A more in depth answer starts with my intense southern baptist up-bringing that brought about a great rebellion through punk rock and psychedelics. That eventually turned into following the Grateful Dead around and going to rainbow gatherings in my paisley robes & tarot cards in hand! At a certain point a friend of mine named Starshine turned me on to Ram Dass & Rumi which then lead me into yoga & Sufism. For many years I was searching for a ‘teacher’ and I found many along the way, but every one of them did something to disappoint and disillusion me on some level always pointing back to my own inner ‘spirit of guidance’. A number of years ago I gratefully got into recovery

and have stayed there. Since then I’ve become way more grounded and our social activism work like we do with the ONE Campaign has felt like the real spiritual Work to me. If you would’ve told my teenage or twenty or even thirty year old self that I’d be lobbying on Capitol Hill later in life I would have laughed in your face! It’s such a natural evolution though for me. Ultimately it all comes back to when I play and perform music that I feel I really am able to re-engage spiritually and connect with the ‘higher power’; whatever it is that one wishes to see that as being. What for you both would be considered the most valuable song for people to listen to that would therapeutically help them through today’s trying times? Moksha: The songs that we are writing right now are our own paths of healing with what is arising in these challenging times. I think that they will speak to others in the same way. One of the things that is so magical about a song is that it can express one’s own inner struggle in a way that offers empathy to the struggles of others and can be deeply healing as a result. Instead of waiting to release a full album, in this time we are releasing songs every couple months in order to keep people engaged with the process. Jemal Wade: Do you mean which of our songs? Or any songs at all? Of our more recent material I think ‘Benevolence Day’ is one of our all time best and is kind of sort of the ‘title track’ of our last album. I just love it still even after hearing it thousands of times. I wish we would’ve put it out as a single. It feels very universal in its message & sums up what we’re trying to communicate to the world pretty clearly. Our next single ‘How Many Miles’ is also one of my all time favorites and definitely has a universally therapeutic feel to it. My favorite songs and albums have always been the ones who’s meaning change as life goes on and that I can continually relate to in new ways. Some music is nostalgic and brings me back to a particular


point in time in my life and some changes. Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush’s music is like that for me consistently. A lot of Prince, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder music also has that affect. Music that is specifically therapeutic, Tears for Fears has always held a strong emotional impact for me consistently; especially the ‘Songs from the Big Chair’ & ‘Seeds of Love’ albums. I mean, listen to the song ‘Women in Chains’ on any given day and it will move you. Are you writing songs now that may have a political undertone, or are you staying clear? Moksha: Absolutely. We recently won The Independent Music Award for ‘Social Action Song’ for our song ‘Rise Together’ (that we wrote with Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay). The award was actually quite surprising to us as we were not expecting it. The song was written from our experience in activism and advocacy and the power of unified action. Right now I can’t help but write about what is happening in the world. It is what I am thinking about so much of the time and so, naturally, comes out in songs. We just wrote one about the recent protests that we will be recording in Nashville next week (with some of the Jars of Clay guys and Christie Lenee). Jemal Wade: The song is called ‘I Cannot Breathe’ so it’s pretty obvious what it’s about. How do you two work together so well as a team? Who takes on what responsibilities in the music, and does any of it overlap into your non-music life and times? Moksha: We are both hard workers and, fortunately, have different/complimentary skill sets. I write almost all the songs and Jemal produces them and does the sound engineering. I do most of the music business end of things while he does almost all the social media. I do most of the cooking, he does the dishes. I read to our boy, he takes him to basketball. Ha ha…the list is long but we figure it out. What it really boils down to is adaptation in relation to need and a deep commitment to both our career and our child and personal relationships. Jemal Wade: Well, I co-write a lot of the songs by adding in arrangement ideas, riffs, intros, outros, an occasional bridge or alternate instrumental section or melody here and there. Moksha is the lyricist and comes up with the initial ideas & melodies by doing demos and then I take them and start to create arrangements. With songs like ‘The River Lost’ or our latest ‘This is How My Story Ends’, Moksha gave them to me pretty much complete, so everything I did was just production elements. Moksha kicks ass generally speaking and really is the person keeping this all together. I do think we’re a good team though. Where do most of your musical influences generate from? Moksha: My list is long and is a mix of various styles. I am trained in western classical and eastern European folk and have also had the honor of studying classical Indian singing. It is not musical genre that determines whether I love something or not but, rather, its depth, sincerity, heart, movement, etc. Jemal Wade: My influences are vast from punk to prog to funk to 80s synth pop to classic soul to metal. I’d have to say my top of top influences would be Prince, Queen, Peter Gabriel, Earth Wind & Fire, Kate Bush, Bowie & U2, but the list truly goes on and on. Guitar influences would include Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, The Edge, Prince, Lindsey Buckingham, Hendrix, Gilmour…the usual suspects. There are a lot of more ‘recent’ artists that

HuDost Family: Moksha, Jemal and 7 year old son

I really dig as well such as Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, New Pornographers, Neko Case, Phoenix and so on. Basically I just love music and I love collecting vinyl and going down musical rabbit holes. On YouTube, I found myself fascinated with the music video called, Broken. Can you tell us about the significance it has for you and why was this song created? Moksha: That is interesting. Some pieces that I write take a lot of crafting, work, and reflection. That piece, however, was one of those songs that just came through. I was sitting with my harmonium and started singing. I almost felt like I was in a trance. Jemal came and recorded what I was playing. That kind of experience is very rare. I felt like I was tapping into a song that was already in existence but needed willing ears to hear it and translate it into the world. Jemal Wade: What she said….When I walked in the room I realized immediately that she was ‘channeling’ the song so I grabbed my phone and recorded it. The first verse on the actual recording is from that moment; the recording of it coming through her. The

video is very special to us as well as we filmed it in Canada during Moksha’s third trimester. I am so happy we captured the love between and the love that created our son Kaleb for the video; especially for this song and the deep meaning it carries. So, you have new fans now! New followers, here… how can we support you? How can we follow you? Moksha: Yay! That is wonderful. The best thing that people can do in this time is join our monthly subscriptions as this is part of how we are continuing to have income during a year of cancelled shows. https://www.hudost.com/subscribe You can also follow us on social media, follow us on Spotify, purchase our music through our website and join our mailing list www.hudost.com www.facebook.com/hudost https://www.instagram.com/_hudost/ https://twitter.com/hudost

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 35


SHORELINE HIEROGLYPHICS 24 X 36”

CLAUDIA D’ALESSANDRO SHAPED BY WATER PANDEMIC VEIL 2020 8”X10” OIL ON BOARD WITH COLD WAX MEDIUM WINDBLOWN 2020

BRUCE PANOCK PHOTOGRAPHY I have been a student of photography for more than 20 years, though most intently for the last five years. I am primarily a landscape photographer. Recently my photographic voice has migrated to the creation of work with reference to other art forms, notably encaustic painting and ancient Chinese and Japanese brush painting and woodblock art. My intention is to create with viewer a moment of pause and reflection; a moment to digest the image and find their own story in the art. Each image is part of a limited edition. There are several sizes available. Each piece is priced according to size. Images are unframed and printed on Hahnemuhle archival papers. Bruce Panock bruce@panockphotography.com

GHETTA HIRSCH I am not painting our Berkshires landscapes these days as my mind and heart are reacting to the pain and prejudice around us. Even though we are told that Covid 19 is on a down curve, I read the news and my eyes are opened to reality. My work is processing this pandemic and the social unrest. Yes, Black Life Matters, the black background of this painting is an image of the prejudice suffered by Blacks for centuries. The veil envelops the black color as Covid 19 was more dangerous and disastrous for our Black population. Covid 19 looks like little flowers as it has brought good and bad. The virus is still spreading and feared, but the suffering that comes with this illness has brought us closer to our humanity. The connection that all humans share whatever the color of our skins is present in our manifestations in the streets. I am hoping that change will happen and eliminate once and for all the racism that still surrounds us. Let this veil lift quickly and bring peace and health to us all. People have been coming to my studio and looking at specific paintings on my front porch. I am touched that you have bought art pieces in this difficult economic time. on Ghetta Hirsch - www.ghettahirsch.squarespace.com Instagram@ghettahirschpaintings. Call or text 413-281-0626.

In times of turmoil and unrest, I find particular comfort in focusing on the power of the elements: earth, air, fire and water, the power of each, shapers of our lives and of our world. Images appear in each which reflect the interaction of all: eddies of mud and walls of ice, fiery dawns and sunsets, blankets of mist and fog, and the infinite images reflected, formed or shaped by water. This month, I focus on those things that are "Shaped by Water." Integral to our being and essential to our survival, water forms the lifeblood of our planet. But it is also a mirror, a sculptor, a painter and builder. While even tiny amounts of water can create exquisite art - hoar frost springs to mind - I look, this month, at art created by the mighty sea: on beaches, shorelines, in clouds, and in pools nearby. Compelling landscapes, skyscapes and images of the natural world remind me of the awesome beauty that surrounds us, and the mighty power of the natural world which we inhabit. Still, at the end of the day, it is water which has a 'hand' in almost everything. I hope you will enjoy this look at a few of the "Shapes of Water." "Claudia's photography touches our souls with deep joy!" ~ CHR "She sees with her eyes and feels with her heart." ~ DKAH To order prints or inquire about pricing, email me at cdalessandro26@gmail.com. Don't forget to mention the Artful Mind for preferred customer pricing. Cheers to all for the rest of a beautiful and artful summer! Claudia D’alessandro - https://www.dalessandrophotography.com, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdalessandrophotography/ and on Instagram as: dalessandronatura. Email: cdalessandro26@gmail.com

“Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye!” Translation:

What’s destined to happen will happen.

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PENGUINS PHOTOGRAPH 11X17” ROOKERY

WATERCOLOR

DAY 39 WATERCOLOR, PEN AND INK 24 X 18”

MARGUERITE BRIDE

NINA LIPKOWITZ

ORIGINAL WATERCOLORS

MEDITATIONS IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC

New series….Berkshires beautiful rookery in Richmond. The place is spellbinding in all seasons. So I have decided to dedicate a whole series of paintings to this delightful place and its inhabitants. Stay tuned for more, I have only just begun. Sheltering in place has resulted in more and more creative ideas. I have been taking on commissions for nursery paintings, dogs (not cats yet), and funky anniversary scenes. Got a fun idea for a painting in mind? Do let me know….I’ll try anything. This past winter I even painted images of the Eagle Lighthouse (Lake Superior) on the actual roof tiles of the light house that were being replaced. Many of my paintings are now on display at the new Miraval Resort in Lenox. Also, some originals, fine art reproductions and note cards of Berkshire images are available at the Red Lion Inn Gift Shop (Stockbridge), Lenox Print & Mercantile (Lenox), Hancock Shaker Village Gift Shop, LOCAL (Lenox) and a variety of other fine gift shops, and directly from the artist. Visit my website for more details. Everyone deserves their 15 minutes of fame…in my case it was about 12 minutes. In June, I was interviewed on the Berkshire Now News Magazine for a segment addressing what artists to during lockdown…take a look….it is actually a fun little segment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1FlHJ2tvr8&feature=yout u.be. Marguerite Bride – Home Studio at 46 Glory Drive, Pittsfield, Massachusetts by appointment only. Call 413-841-1659 or 413-442-7718; margebride-paintings.com; margebride@aol.com; Facebook: Marguerite Bride Watercolors.

A TIME OF CONTRACTION AND EXPANSION

Contraction: Friday, March 13: Locked downparalyzed with fear. Cleaned my studio…when frightened it helps to first clean the studio. Expansion: I have been painting almost daily since April 2. I have more than 100 paintings. Watercolor, pen and ink and torn paper. Each painting is signed and numbered with the day count starting with Day # 21. They are now up to Day # 128 and still counting. My favorite word is “Powerless”. My favorite color is “Red”. Please travel with me on this journey of exploration. You can see some in person at the gallery in Hudson, NY. Check out my website to see all my work. Nina Lipkowitz - 510 Warren Street Gallery, Hudson, NY; open Friday and Saturday 12-6 and Sunday, 12-5; www.ninalipkowitz.com / ninalipkowitz@gmail.com

RED LILY PHOTOGRAPH 11 X 17”

LARRY FRANKEL HOW BAD IS CLIMATE CHANGE NOW? IS WHAT I DO IMPORTANT? The growing issue of Global Warming became the inspiration and impetus to create these new images. My imagination transformed Flora and Fauna into a future representation of a newly created landscape. My newly created world consists of constructed photos using combinations of various imagery I have taken and have in my inventory. Shifted colors become my new reality in which to view our environment. www.Larryfrankelphotography.com/ Larryfrankel@me.com / Cell 914-419-8002

Prepared food menu to take out: www.elixirgb.com

Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 8pm

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 37


VISUAL ARTIST DIANE FIRTELL Interview by Harryet Candee

Harryet Candee: Diane, how are you today? Whats going on? Diane Firtell: Feeling great (physically and emotionally)!. I was feeling tired and beat yesterday after a full week-end of outdoor art activities (Drive.Walk.Bike in Pittsfield Friday afternoon and the Open Aire Gallery at the Wit Gallery in Lenox, Saturday and Sunday). I still haven’t totally unpacked my car. But it’s a gorgeous day and I feel well rested.

Tell us what you are now working on in your art? I’ve been working with transferring my images via laser prints for a number of years now...first on paper, then any other surface I could find; wood, metal, canvas, polymer. I recently started transferring on to glass and I’m enjoying the process of applying the images to the surface, underneath the surface and also combining multiple methods of transfer.

kept coming in, as I sat in my studio (the converted living room of my one bedroom apartment) and I eventually had to train people how to do what I did. After a few months I realized I didn’t want to be in assembly line production (designing) to fill seasonal needs, fashionable colors (or the whims or preferences of my rep or clients). To this day, I create what inspires me with the exception of the occasional house portrait (where the house and clients are the subjects and source of inspiration).

What has your day been like? Well, it’s only 11am, so not much has happened. I did something that I try to do every day since the quarantine, Movement Supplements with action based dance artist Stefanie Weber. They’re (generally) 15 minutes (who doesn’t have 15 minutes?) of mindful movement. A couple of times a week there are extended supplements. I always feel better afterwards. https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=movement%20supplements%20with%20stefanie%20w eber Then I fed Sheyna (my dog) checked emails/took care of some business (went down a short rabbit hole of political craziness), set up a family ZOOM meeting, walked Sheyna, mailed my sister’s birthday card and now I’m answering your questions!

There is no pressure, no deadlines, no one telling you what to create, how to create it, where to show it. Enlighten us with some of your thoughts on how your style and ethics work for you in art. A long time ago, in the early 80’s I did my first trade show. I walked from my apartment in NYC on W70th street to the Javitts Center with a shopping cart (carrying material for my yet to be built display) and built a palm tree and hung a clothes line and hung my line of hand painted tuxedo and T shirts. It was actually a very successful show...I picked up some accounts and started my business. I eventually shifted into designing jewelry and (at the next trade show) was approached by a rep. Timing is everything and I was intuitively using gem stones and crystals (in a very unique way making the findings from polymer). The orders

Your oil paintings of sky and nature, horizons that breathe light and air. This must give you much joy. How do you go about creating these landscapes? Just about everything I create starts with my photographs. I am, like many other artists, inspired by light and also color and pattern. Sometimes I will just photograph a shadow (which I did a lot during quarantine when I had to find inspiration inside my apartment), an unusual color or pattern and since I often combine multiple photographs, these photos become part of my palette.

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Are there any elements, style, or personal touch that seems to carry over from one painting into another that you have come to recognize as part of Diane’s style? Here is a photograph of something I did in college.


Diane Firtell Cape Sunset, July 6 oil/pastel on canvas 30"x40"

is the process that is involved? Tryptichs are a conventional form. I use them in image transfer because it allows me to do larger pieces (photos can be divided in Photoshop and multiple xerox images can be printed in segments that, when put together, create a larger piece) and the same for photographs. The photo collage happened before regular cameras had landscape mode and I wasn’t using Photoshop. The only way I could get the image I wanted was to take multiple images and piece them together. I don’t recall learning this from anyone...it was just a way for me to get the image I wanted. I’m attempting to convey what most people see...which is a distinct subject with surrounding areas that are less detailed and focussed.

Diane Firtell

My Sister and a Friend, Sitting on a park bench in Florida

The 2 figures (my sister and a friend, sitting on a park bench in Florida) are drawn with pencil and pastel. I added collage, color xeroxes of cows in the background and rubber stamps (a carry over from when I was hand painting shirts). This method is not so different 40 years later….although now I use actual photos, image transfer or the computer. I also see an continued use of flowers/nature... I like to get right in there and zero in on something specific….the beauty, color and pattern consistantly draw me in.

may not want to? I wish I could answer this. It’s just something inside of me...and sometimes I am just tired of working on a piece. That’s when i put it aside and come back to it. The advantage to working at home is that I can walk away from something and then, as I walk past it..come back to it and tweak a little something. And I relish that I’m able to do that. Often it’s when I do something and it wasn’t necessary and has to be removed….and that determines it’s “finished” at least for the time being.

What tells you that a landscape is complete? What often shows up for you as a tell tail sign that its time to stop even though perhaps you

Now moving onto your Image Transfer Tryptichs. This also seems like a very enjoyable process with interesting techniques involved. What

Which brings me to my next question, Diane, tell us about your photography and use of the camera as a tool that you “paint” with. I have loved photography since college, where I worked in the darkroom. I was hesitant to pursue it because of the expense of printing and the use of harsh chemicals. So I put it aside for many years, although I always used my camera and found a way to incorporate it into my work. For years manipulation of photography in the computer was not considered “art”. But I find the ways to change photos are limited only by exploration and imagination and that is the art. Can you explain the connecting thread to all the art you do? I would say the connecting thread is nature...and a desire to create something new. Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 39


VISUAL ARTIST DIANE FIRTELL

Diane Firtell Maguire, Custom House Portrait mixed media on paper, photographs/watercolor/pastel 30"x24"

What are your artistic challenges you give yourself? In 2016 I decided to give myself a project...to take photos every day and somehow use one photo from that particular day, as inspiration (for either a painting, image transfer, etc.) About 2 months into the project I couldn’t find a single photo from a particular day that worked. So, I started the process of layering the photos (morphing them if necessary) and my digital collages began. The project is titled 366iPhone. I did manage to take photos every day (some days were challenging) and I’ve created a bit of fair amount of art from the project, although I haven’t done 366. I do, however, have a volume of work that I go back to for inspiration...lifting the self imposed restriction of using images only from one day to, for example, a few pieces that are one year apart; same day, a year apart...or 2 days apart. As I said, the opportunities are limitless. I’ve also done a series of woven imaga transfers that involve individual images that were of a specific size (i.e. started with 1”x1” and eventually went to 5”x5”. Tell us how and why art fills your soul. Art, in any form, conveys emotion. It moves us...in both the making and the viewing. There is something that happens when you start with nothing and create something...whether it’s visual, culinary, horticulturally, musical, dance...any form. Also, I am stimulated and gratified by newness….learning a new technique, discovering a new way to see or express. This feeds my soul deeply. 40 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

Maybe this question works as a follow up: Give us a glimpse into your childhood – a fond memory you hold dear. Hmmm. my fondest memories are of my whole family together (parents and 4 children).. Many come to mind, but here’s one very magical one. We used to routinely take “Sunday drives.” I grew up in Brooklyn NY and this Sunday we wound up in Lakewood, NJ...which, to a city girl, was very special...with the lake and horse drawn carriage rides across (or around?) the frozen lake. My parents decided we would stay overnight. With this not being planned, we had to purchase anything we would need for the overnight stay. The spontaneity was part of what made it so special. And, what is your life like now in the Berkshires? How would you describe your lifestyle and connection to this beautiful world we share? I moved from NYC to get away from crowded subways, busses and post offices and, although I lived very close to both Central and Riverside Parks and used them frequently, I wanted to be IN nature and not have hi rises interfering with my views. (I also felt living in the Berkshires would make it easier to connect with the arts community.) So here I am. Although I live in downtown Pittsfield (not exactly the mountains) I still feel deeply engaged with nature, only minutes away from lakes and mountains. I LOVE driving the country roads, finding small garden stands, farmers markets (when they’re open) and enjoying and participating in the extremely rich cultural environment.

I found the arts community accessible, and I can get in and out of the post office with minimal wait. Do you find the artists in the Berkshires supportive of each other? There was so much going on before Corona came along that brought people together, out seeing art. But we are at a challenging point. Have you observed creative solutions taking place to override this (how-todescribe?) this time we’re in? Absolutely, this past week-end being a perfect example. Drive.Walk.Bike engaged over 40 artists all over Pittsfield. Art and performance was brought outside and this event will, hopefully, become an annual event. Also, every week-end through August the Wit Gallery in Lenox will have tents outside in their “open aire” gallery. I was there this week-end and will be returning the week-end of August 22/23, 12-6PM. Events such as these are testaments to the creativity and innovations of the arts community and the desire to literally make art accessible. Were you enjoying the shut down we all had to go through? Some of us claim it was most beneficial to creativity, forcing ourselves to work at new and old things head-on. Yes..it has been not so very different for me since I work at home. It did make me look at my interior surroundings more critically; I became fascinated with different shadows. I also did a lot of necessary purging and organizing. What in the world would we do without art and music? What if not for our own artmaking?


Diane Firtell Fences, May 7, digital collage, ltd edition fine art print 27"x15

I think this is an impossibility. People have been drawing on caves forever and find ways to make art in unusual circumstances. It is part of our being. But if forced to be without...I think there would be a dullnes and we would lose a certain dimensional awareness . Have you studied art in the Berkshires? I painted for a while with Kate Knapp in Housatonic (Front Stree Gallery) and also have taken a few classes at IS183, where i am now on the faculty. How do you make a living at art? Or, not with art… I do sell quite a bit of my art, selling mostly word of mouth including a number of private “collectors” and the occasional commercial client. The rest is pieced together (at least before COVID), doing some graphics, taking advantage of the multiple opportunities to exhibit, various curating and teaching opportunities. Something always seems to crop up that challenges me artistically and (often) offers compensation (Pittsfield’s Sheeptacular, the Art of the Game, and juried art shows). I also do very personal and customized house portraits. OH, and I teach a wonderful movement practice called Nia. Who has been a great inspiration to you in the art world? Georgia O’Keefe...not only for her beautiful work, but her amazing spirit.

What part of art history has taken you by storm? One in which you would want to live in? Why? I can’t image living in another era. There are time periods that certainly seem more romantic, before the industrial revolution (gorgeous clothing accessories, everything beautifully hand made, a deeper connection to the earth) but the trade off for plumbing and electricity is not one i’d make.

Vonnegut “Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?” —Kurt Vonnegut, Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons

If you could, please give us a few lines from a song or poem that truly moves you. Stranger in a Strange Land...a song by Nahoo...moves me. I sometimes feel that way.

For the love of animals! We sure love ours! What is your pup up to now? Is she aware of your artistic side? I don’t know, but she is a captivating subject and sure loves to pose for me. right now she’s napping.

We all have a certain amount of special spiritual tools we have learned to use to get us through our artistic lives. What would you say yours was, if you don’t mind revealing it! Mine: visualization techniques and my intuition. Many years ago I had a teacher who taught me to be very mindful of what I was “thinking” and not to mistake habitual thoughts for critical thinking. It’s a long process, first recognizing the pattern and then being able to shift the habitual thinking. This has helped me to quiet the voices of negativity that might keep me from trying something new, making that phone call to promote my work, etc. I also practice mindfulness, through the Nia Technique movement. That is something that is carried through to my every day activities and, knowing there is no such thing as perfection both in art and personally. Regarding thinking...here’s a wonderful quote from one of my favorite writers, Kurt

If you were to be the master of one thing in your life, what would that be? I’d like to become a master of true empathy and kindness.

What have you given yourself, and to others that you can say was a contribution to the world and to the people around you? I underestimate my talent because it is something I just do, but I know sharing my art and teaching both art and Nia has brought a lot of joy to many people. And, knowing that, gives me a lot of joy. How do we meet up with you? www.DianeFirtell.com diane.firtell@gmail.com Find me Aug 22/23, the Wit Open Aire Gallery, Lenox MA 12-6PM Thank you!

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 41


AFTER THE STORM

MONOPRINT,

15 X 22”

CAROLYN NEWBERGER Carolyn Newberger is an artist, musician and writer who came to art after an academic and clinical career in psychology at Harvard Medical School. A recipient of awards from Watercolor Magazine, the Danforth Museum, the New England Watercolor Society and Cambridge Art Association, she writes and illustrates music and dance reviews in The Berkshire Edge, a publication of news and ideas in Western Massachusetts, often in collaboration with her husband, Eli Newberger. Her most recent project is an illustrated book of essays, “Illuminating the Hidden Forest,” which is being serialized in The Berkshire Edge. 617-877-5672 / www.carolynnewberger.com

42 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

WILCOX FARM, OIL ON CANVAS, 24 X 36”

FRONT ST. GALLERY Pastels, oils, acrylics and watercolors…abstract and representational…..landscapes, still lifes and portraits….a unique variety of painting technique and styles….you will be transported to another world and see things in a way you never have before…. join us and experience something different. Painting classes continue on Monday and Wednesday mornings 10-1:30pm at the studio and Thursday mornings out in the field. These classes are open to all...come to one or come again if it works for you. All levels and materials welcome. Private critiques available. Classes at Front Street are for those wishing to learn, those who just want to be involved in the pure enjoyment of art, and/or those who have some experience under their belt. Perfect if you are seeking fresh insight into watercolors, and other mediums. Front Street Gallery – Front Street, Housatonic, MA. Gallery open by appointment or chance anytime. 413-528-9546 at home or 413429-7141 (cell) www.kateknappartist.com

ELIXIR It is nearing the end of July as I write this for the August issue. Over the past month, it has been so heartening to see the Great Barrington community working together to create a festive downtown experience with Railroad Street, alleyways, and parking lots being set up for outdoor dining and providing live music on the weekends… It is nice to be a part of this community! With more warm months ahead, we would like everyone to know that Elixir will be offering a wide variety of cleanse options throughout this time to boost & strengthen the immune system. Details can be found on our website www.elixirgb.com 3, 5, 7, 14, & 21-day cleanse packages designed to accommodate most lifestyles & budgets. Nutritional, herbal, lifestyle consultations to determine which cleanse would suit your situation/ condition best are available by appointment made through organictearoom@gmail.com and can be by phone, Skype, or in person. We believe that our greatest ally is the food we eat as it strengthens us and creates a healthy mind, body, & spirit! These are such uncertain stressful times, we need all the support we can get! Join us for our daily delicious 100% organic freshly prepared food & elixirs, stop by Friday, Saturday, & Sunday from 10am - 8pm. Dinners for inside dining by reservation please and there is plenty of outdoor seating for impromptu visits. We look forward to sharing our knowledge, experience, delicious healing foods, and beautiful cozy atmosphere with you soon! Blessings!! ELIXIR – 413-644-8999, Instagram: elixirtearoom; facebook; elixir.


WHITE ON WHITE PHOTOGRAPH

JANET PUMPHREY CHAIR SERIES

PASTEL ON CARDBOARD

4 X 5”

APPROX.

MARK MELLINGER Sometimes a curse like this pandemic has small blessings attached. Freed from hours of commuting between work in NYC and homes in Yonkers and Pittsfield, I have time to do art. That said, I find the malaise taking away much of the energy needed to use that freedom. In the '60s, I went to Cooper Union Art School and then worked in commercial art and photography. Later I returned to college and careers in bio research and ultimately, psychology. While continuing my practice of psychoanalysis, I spend free moments in my Pittsfield studio. Free also from any dream of fame or fortune, at 75 I can indulge any curious whim in my artwork. I do, nonetheless, appreciate when someone can connect to it. Mark V. Mellinger, PhD - 100 North St. Room 404, Pittsfield MA 01201; markmellinger680@gmail.com / 914-260-7413

Janet Pumphrey is a local fine art photographer who lives and works in Lenox. While photography is a representational medium, Pumphrey moves beyond the inherent realism in traditional photography to see the world in a new and more creative way. She appreciates the ability to manipulate photographs through the artistic imagery available both in-camera and in post-processing, turning what was a realistic photograph into a creative, often abstract work of art. Her cityscapes and landscapes are at times painterly and impressionist and at times stark, reflective, and architectural. Janet Hetherwick Pumphrey, Esq. - 45 Walker Street, Lenox, MA 01240; 413-6372777; Photography website: www.JanetPumphrey.com

PIECE OF PARADISE

SHARON GUY CONNECTING WITH NATURE My purpose as an artist is to connect with the healing power of the natural world and to encourage others to do the same. Nature is alive and infused with spirit. I constantly seek to reconnect with this spirit of nature through creating art. While I quietly observe and study land, water, and skies, the ordinary world around me is transformed by light and shadow into the sublime. I enjoy painting the dramatic seascapes and clouds of the Gulf Coast and New England scenes. My work is in private collections in the United States and Canada. Sharon Guy - sharonguyart@gmail.com , 941-321-1218, http://www.sharonguyart.com

Gotta Minute? Great! Because every Monday I introduce you to one of New Brunswick Canada’s finest artists! Just mosey on over to Instagram or Facebook and check us out! Remember, if you like what you hear and see, leave a comment and share the post! Or, visit my YouTube page to easily find past episodes! —Thanks, Jennifer

https://www.instagram.com/jenniferpazienza/ https://www.facebook.com/jenniferpazienzaartstudio/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiqXBQdVAQ0 www.jenniferpazienza.com

THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 43


To The Moon and Back oil on wax on cold board 12 x 12”

CAROLYN M. ABRAMS VISUAL / SPIRITUAL ARTIST Interview by Harryet Candee

Harryet Candee: When you create a work of art, do you feel you have accomplished a positive energy force for the universe to absorb? Carolyn M. Abrams: I believe positive energy is alive and well and that we all have the power to put it out there for the universe to absorb. That is one reason why I never create dark work. I start many works with a positive intention and may write it directly on the canvas. Sometimes it gets buried under layers of paint but I know it is there. That first layer for me is the basis of creating meaningful work. Do you feel you are often the vehicle that creates the work, and a higher power is the actual force that leads the way to its fruition? The Creative Spirit is a wonderful powerful force. We all possess it. Some are more passionate than others in expressing it. There are times when I finish a work and I think “Who did this?” So I don’t know if Spirit is working through me but I do often feel a connection or a pull. Art therapy has been known to bring people out of their current mind set or negative place of being, do you agree? How have you interacted 44 • AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

as a teacher or therapist on that level, and what results have you experienced through your teachings and work with others? I believe with all my being that Art Saves and Art Heals. I have experienced it personally and I have witnessed it. In my art facilitating experiences I have seen the physically and developmentally challenged create work that was jaw dropping. I have facilitated an art segment in women’s retreats and worked with the elderly dementia patients and veterans as well as children. My favorite experience these days is working one on one with women who wish to access their Creative Spirit or their Divine Feminine voice and witnessing them make that connection. I am also a member of the Healing Power of Art and Artist organization. HPAA is a growing global community of artists, advocates, and writers dedicated to raising awareness about how ART serves as a positive catalyst for enhancing the wellbeing of individuals, society and the environment. We believe that art has the power to heal, inspire, provoke, challenge and offer hope. Check them out at https://www.healing-power-of-art.org/the-healing-power-of-art-2020/

Do you ever got stuck? Finding yourself wanting to get things onto the canvas, and finding you just don’t have it? What creative solutions have you come up with that helps you to get out of that snag? Maybe, you have an endless well of creativity, well then, how do you know what you want to create next? Many times I am stuck and think well this looked better in my head! But I’ve learned patience and perseverance to keep at it or to let it breathe awhile. Most times the finished piece is better than I imagined. I also use art journaling on a regular basis to keep in the creative flow or to just express myself. Many times a larger work comes out of those journal pages. Art journaling also allows me to get out of my head and just experiment and play with materials without feeling like I have to produce a finished piece. How do you know when its time to complete a series / body of work? Do you get bored? Did you finish your message? Do you ever revisit a series? Why would that take place? I’m not very diligent about working in a series. I have too much going on in my head to create works that look similar. What I do like to do is get


Carolyn M. Abrams Dreams and Revelations

Carolyn M. Abrams She Lent a Hand to The Birds in the Air acrylic mixed media textured on paper

very interested in a topic, research it, gather anything related to it such as poems, quotes, text, palette colors, stories, etc. and then go with it. My “Messages from the Hive” gallery came together after reading a book “Song of Increase” by Jacqueline Freeman about the spiritual life of bees and what goes on in a hive. It was fascinating! There were quite a few metaphors I was attracted to about life such as love, unity, compassion and working hard that I wanted to visually express. The longest running “series” I have created I must say is Divine Vessels. I think many of my other works in my galleries are sub themes of this particular one because it had such depth and was so meaningful. What materials do you find most challenging to work with, and when it comes to wax, can you explain your techniques? I am an art supply junkie. I love art materials and any object that I can make marks with which may include tools from my husband’s workshop or hardware store or kitchen utensils. I also love plaster, tapes, scrapers and anything I can add texture to a piece with. I work with watercolors, acrylics, inks, pastels, watercolor crayons, pencils

etc. Sometimes all layered in one work. I found oils to be the most difficult over the years and have only recently learned their properties and how to manipulate them with the addition of cold wax medium. Cold wax is ironically beeswax with a resin added to it. I mix it with oil paints at about 50/50 ratio and apply to a substrate with a spreader or palette knife. What I learned from this medium is “patience. I have to let it dry some but then get to go back in and scrape and scratch into it and make marks which I love to imbed and incise my energy right into the piece. Usually the marks may be a symbol or something meaningful to me and many times to the viewer. Adding collage is another layering technique whether it is an image, handmade collage papers or vintage papers. It always adds texture to the piece. I like to finish off the work with my signature marks which are splatters, drips, and circles usually in a gold metallic. Explain how your art-making and vision is spiritual to you? To me art is like breathing. It’s a necessity. It is a way for me to express myself and make my voice

heard. I believe there are spirit guides who send us messages. They guide us. The messages my come in the form of lyrics, books, a thought, a feeling but always something that just grabs you and you know, this is what I need to do. It’s very intuitive and a lot of my work is intuitively created. What role do your memories play in making art? I can’t really say memories play much into my work. But what does come into play is this feeling of wanting to connect ancestrally. I think that is why I am attracted to anything vintage. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Brunswick, New York and am still here! How would you describe your family life today? Blessed! I married my best friend, my children are well and healthy, and my grandchildren are the light of my life. I get to make art every day and I live in an area that abounds with nature. What could be better? We live now in Brunswick, New York. Continued on next page... THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 45


CAROLYN M. ABRAMS VISUAL / SPIRITUAL ARTIST

Carolyn M. Abrams

Temple in the Forest IV

acrylic on watercolor paper, matted to 8 x 10

Do you have a garden where you grow flowers and possibly veggies? I am down to a few flower gardens these days and am working on the veggies although I am not much of a farmer.

I play the piano some but music has always been a part of my life and my work. Lyrics often inspire me in many ways. I also enjoy meandering through antique shops and old bookstores. I have found some great items to incorporate into my work.

Oh, do you have any pets? We have a beautiful honey colored rescue from Tennessee named Lucy.

Have you other careers related and unrelated to art? I taught preschool for many years, as Program Director at our town library, on our Town Board for 8 years and served as an Arts Grant Coordinator for The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY as well. All of those positions required thinking creatively and out of the box.

How and when did you art experience become a serious venue for you? I have always been passionate about creating from Crayola days to my mixed media of today. I always had a yearning to learn more. I began painting in the decorative/folk art way when my kids were small. In 2001 I saw a watercolor painting I fell in love with and began taking classes and teaching myself. That was almost 20 years ago and my techniques and materials have evolved some over the years. From the kitchen table to my own studio. From wood and slate plaques to canvases. In 2008 I painted a Saratoga fiberglass horse and an Adirondack rocking chair for the Yellow Ribbon Lady in the Town of Ballston Spa. The passion for art persisted and it became an integral part of my life. I just kept moving to the next level and began to apply for shows and created a website where I could share my work. I presently issue a newsletter monthly sharing my process, am on social media, participate in women’s retreats, facilitate small classes in my studio and work one on one with students remotely. Do you play any musical instruments? What would be other activities in your life that you enjoy doing? 46• AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

What is it about making art you find the most rewarding? Expressing myself visually. Making my voice heard. Knowing my work has inspired someone in some way and inspiring someone to access their own Creative Spirit or voice. Plus I love playing with color. Color is very rewarding! How do you use art when life gets challenging and riddles with craziness? Art grounds me. It’s my go to. It's how I process things. So when things get crazy I head out back to my studio and get to it. Tell us all about the concept of Vessels! These containers hold something magical and beautiful, yes? At the time I began the series I was simultaneously embarking on a spiritual journey that led me to explore the meaning of life through the interrelations of the spiritual, physical and emotional realms. In that search I found a myriad of “vessels” that con-

tain and from which emanate life-giving forces. Many of the works began with the transformation of ordinary containers, such as bottles or vases used as design elements, that became symbolic vessels in my work. Because I am a vessel, my canvases are the vessels that carry my thoughts and emotions to the viewer. The original triptych in the series expresses my belief in the Divine Feminine and spirits that guide, inspire and protect us. After ten years I am finding this theme still runs through much of my work and has become a voice of hope in many ways. Early on I came across this quote by Rumi: Know O my child, that each thing in the universe is a vessel, Full to the brim with wisdom and beauty Know, my child, that each thing is a drop from the burning river of His infinite beauty. It has stayed with me. What was your biggest struggle you have faced in your life? Back in 2004 my husband was deployed to Iraq with the National Guard. During his deployment art was a life saver as an escape from all the worry and what was going on in the world. He was injured that September and while recovering at Walter Reed my son, a Marine, was deployed to Afghanistan. I spent many weeks on and off in Washington. It was probably the most challenging time of my life but before I left I had the foresight to throw a journal and some watercolors in my bag. They were a great comfort during the most stressful times…that and wine! So yes I believe Art Saves and Art Heals. Somehow I felt I was being carried through it all and attribute much of what I experienced to my faith.


What is one of your true beliefs about how the universe works? I feel our great grandmothers had answers they passed down, and maybe you remember a watered down version of something that was told to you of importance and would like to pass along to our readers. I think my hive metaphor probably explains it best: The universe works a lot like a bee hive. The hive is a holy place. They respect one another with reverence, gratitude and generosity. These are the qualities the bees bring to their interactions with each other. The bee kingdom offers humans a template to create a temple of unity, informed by love and to become an instrument of peace and kindness. We would do well to apply some of these beliefs to our own little corner of the world. What pressures might you face when it comes to the gallery world? My first thought used to be “Am I good enough?” Standards to be accepted into galleries used to be out of my league, I felt. I didn’t possess the credentials, professional slides and photographs and my work it seemed to me looked like 12 different people created it. I was fortunate to find alternative venues and I realized that there are so many other places to share my work and to reach people who may be inspired by it that I no longer get caught up in whether “I’m good enough”. My work is my voice and it always seems to find where it is supposed to go and reaches who it is supposed to when the time is right. Where were your best and most memorable gallery experiences, and why? My most exciting experience was showing my work at Saint Peter’s Church in NYC. I really felt like I had “arrived”. It was definitely an experience just getting “Divine Vessels” into NYC and delivered to the gallery. They are life-size so we had to drive them in. I showed Divine Vessels a few more times at the RPI Chapel and Cultural Center in Troy as well as the Albany Catholic Diocese in Albany and a holistic practitioner’s office. All the experiences were what I would call a perfect fit for the spiritual theme of the work and were very successful shows. As we face Today, what do you have to say. What do you want to see happen? Trying times and confusion for all of us, I am so appreciative of your art making and what you have produced. I am truly a fan of your work. Thank you Harryet. During a spiritual journey while completing the Divine Vessels series I read a lot about a shift taking place in the universe. I believe we are in that place now. So many things happening are causing us to become awake to what is truly important in the world and how we can “be” in the world in a more kinder, compassionate way. I am especially aware of the role the Divine Feminine has in this shift and in how it is affecting women and sisters today. Their place in leadership and nurturing and in love is more important now than ever. I hope my art clearly expresses this theme and will inspire others to seek out their Creative Spirit in a way that their voice is heard.

Carolyn M. Abrams Spirit Vessel acrylic and collage on canvas 36 x 30”

Carolyn M. Abrams I just Know acrylic/collage with acrylic encaustic on canvas 36 x 30”

Carolyn M. Abrams Seed of Intention

Thank you! http://www.healing-power-of-art.org THE ARTFUL MIND AUGUST 2020 • 47


Jason And his Grandmother CHAPTER 11

ICONS Soon after these events the Prune at the salvage yard informed Bluto of a new project that needed his attention. There was a Russian Orthodox Church that had closed its doors, and the contents of the church were available for harvesting. The church has the usual quantity of copper piping, as well as some sort of decorative metal grill which they hoped would be made of bronze. Also, it was rumored that great religious paintings lined the walls of the chapel, and there were other smaller paintings affixed to the grill. The church had been closed for about three years. The last use of the building was a wedding that turned into a shouting match, and later in the evening the groom was attacked in the church parking lot and had to be taken to the hospital. After a few years the congregation, unable to resolve certain religious and political differences, put the building up for sale, and it was the appearance of the for sale sign that sparked the Prune’s interest. Up until this time my employer had always kept up the pretence that everything we had been doing in various abandoned buildings had been not only completely honest, but actually a benefit to any owners that might have existed, but the church presented him with obvious difficulties. We could have gone into the abandoned factories any time of the day or night and nobody would have noticed, but if we had entered the church the police would very likely have been called by some neighbor. Not only that, but Bluto was planning to remove paintings from the walls, and I don’t think he was able to fabricate any explanation for that project. His solution for the problem of entering the establishment was to call the realtor, and request to have a look. I overheard this conversation, and the skeptical look on my face made Bluto begin to offer rather lame explanations. “It’s just a big open room, I could make it into a …museum,” he said. “A museum of what things?” I asked. Bluto had not expected me to ask a question, and the reason he mentioned the museum idea I think was because earlier in the day we happened to pass the city’s new modern art museum. It had been under construction for a few years, and had just opened its doors. Realizing that his suggestion was ridiculous, he then began to talk of the possibility of turning the building into a house, “As an investment, to rent out, after renovation.” He said all of this because he did not want to admit to me that he would look at the church in order to figure out how to rob it. I knew this, he knew this, and he knew that I knew it, but we kept up the pretence of

48• AUGUST 2020 THE ARTFUL MIND

my innocence — a thing I was reluctant to change — out of a regard for possible future entanglements. Saturday afternoon was set for the visit to the church with the realtor. I was to go with him and I suppose he imagined I would appear to be his son. The agent treated Bluto as if he was a real life prospect and her enthusiasm for his ideas and proposals was so extreme that I felt embarrassed for her. The old rusty truck with the single seat should have made it obvious that not only could Bluto not buy any churches, but he could barely manage to keep the truck running. Bluto brought a small camera along he had purchased for the occasion and he took several pictures of the interior with special attention to a series of paintings that lined both sides of the walls of the church. The paintings were all brown and depressing looking and I doubted if they could be of any value, and it was suspicious that the agent made no reply to Bluto’s questions about them. After the tour of the building we drove directly to the junk shop to discuss the project. “Twenty-four paintings, even if they only get a hundred each, that’s 2400,” said Bluto. “They’re worth nothing,” I said. “Less than nothing,” I added, for no reason except for effect. I guess I had become fatigued with the presumption that I was just a stupid kid. There was a strange moment of silence while Bluto and the Prune looked at me with surprised annoyance. It was a strange moment because it was the first time in my silent 13 years of life that I had both interrupted and contradicted my elders. The two of them waited for some explanation, assuming that there could not possibly be any. “The pictures are not paintings, they’re just reproductions of paintings printed on paper and stuck up on the walls.” That was my explanation but the Prune, who apparently did know something about paintings, had this to say, addressing himself to Bluto as if I didn’t exist. He asked, “Were the paintings shiny? I mean was the surface glossy?” Bluto did not know the answer to this question, and actually did not seem to understand what the question was about, so I answered for him. “All the pictures are shiny.” I replied. “So,” said the Prune, “they have to be paintings because if they were reproductions they would not have a varnish surface on them”, yet again addressing himself strictly to Bluto. The two of them continued their conversation and I got up and began wandering around the junkyard looking once again at the assorted trash that was for sale in the office. There was a picture of the Roman Coliseum, darkened brown with age, in a thick black frame. This must have been considered valuable because it had the distinction of being hung on the wall. Stacked against the same wall were numerous damaged and stained prints of old painting in frames without glass. Among these prints I found one that was the same image as one of the pictures in the church, an angelic child with clasped hands looking up to heaven. I took this picture up to the front of the store and placed it in front of the old Prune’s face without saying a word. Oddly, the fact that I could produce, from the piles of trash in the shop, an image the same as one in the church had no effect on the two of them who acted as if they had no idea why I had put it there. They continued their usual conversations and it suddenly crossed my mind that Bluto might not have realized it was the same image and might not even understand the difference between a painting and a reproduction. Bluto continued to think that the pictures in the church could be sold but the difficulties of getting them out of the place meant that the project had to be put on hold indefinitely. This event, as obscure as you might imagine, had a pivotal and disruptive effect on my life. In my mind I connected it to several things. One was Jason’s apparent stupidity except for the question of car engines, and his grandmother’s admiration for my mechanical

abilities. There were subjects I knew something about apparently, but I did not know how that could have come about. I decided to go the next day, to the museum and see what was in such a formidable place. After school I took a bus down to the Oneida Square, and went into the museum. The building itself was a huge gray cube, entirely plain with no decoration of any kind. At the far end of a gigantic empty room some paintings hung on the back wall, paintings made up of an assortment of spilled and splattered paint. It was obvious that the museum people must have considered them to be very important. In the corner there was a policeman, or rather a guard in a gray uniform. I went up to him intending to ask him about the paintings. “The big one is a Pollack, the one on the left is a Rothko, and the one on the right is a Kline,” he told me. His answer made no sense to me and made me think the museum was like a car dealership, and he might as well have said, “The one in the center is a Cadillac, on the left is a Ford and on the right is a Studebaker.” Not wanting to appear stupid I did not say anything but went up to the biggest painting and read the information on a tag next to it. The tag said: Jackson Pollack American Born 1912 Oil and enamel on canvas 1956 So, apparently Pollack was the name of a person, and not the title. This was all long ago and I am sure you probably imagine that I am making up this conversation to be sarcastic and convey a kind of skepticism of modern art but this is not fair to me, or rather to my thirteenyear-old self. This conversation, or something very much like it took place in Utica, New York in the fall of 1957, and so you have to imagine a time when most people had never seen anything like an abstract painting anywhere in the world. What those paintings were doing in my hometown at that time is still, so many years later, a marvel to me, and was like a door opening into an enormous endless meaningless abyss that would eventually consume my life and drown me in endless confusion. I went up to the second floor. In the back in a small room there were a set of large paintings in huge carved gold frames. The paintings were very dark and shiny, consisting of trees, mountains and figures. They were a set, like illustrations of a story in a book and they were titled, “Voyage of Life.” The information on the wall said they were by a man named Thomas Cole. I would like to describe my reaction to my first exposure to abstract paintings, and those old black paintings in their ornate frames. I am now able to put into words those impressions, but at the time it was simply a vague and confused feeling. It seemed to me that the Thomas Cole paintings could not be great works of art, if at the same time the abstract paintings were great also. One had to be a contradiction of the other. This was not a question I could ask, and not a question I could even formulate back then. But the gigantic space between these two ways of making paintings seemed to suggest a strange place I might find congenial to my timid yet rebellious nature. It crossed my mind that I should try to make some pictures, and with this in mind I went, for the first time, to an art supply store. RICHARD BRITELL: FROM THE BLOG NO CURE FOR THE MEDIEVAL MIND


EDWARD ACKER PHOTOGRAPHER

Time Flies D Get Pictures EdwardAckerPhotographer.com 413-446-8348