Saturday, December 30, 2006

Snow... again

Saturday and three feet of snow in the mountains over Santa Fe. We seem to have gotten hit the hardest (outside of Denver, of course) but we're at 7,000 feet. - DN

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jerks in a mold, or molding jerks...

I watched Apocalypto on Christmas Eve. Just that sentence sounds like a paradox. Afterward, I went online to read some discussions about this highly controversial film. Personally, I wasn’t that impressed with the movie. It was alright, but nothing spectacular. The plot was fairly straightforward (to the point of simplicity) and that was reinforced by the discussion boards I found at the Internet Movie Database ( Page after page of discussion had little to do with the actual picture (after watching the film, you’ll notice that there just isn’t much left to question) and everything to do with the popular opinion that Mel Gibson is an ass.

Now I’m the last person to come to the defense of Gibson’s idiotic summer tirade of anti-Semitism, but why is everyone so surprised that he can be a talented filmmaker/artist and a jerk? My hero, Jackson Pollock, was a class-A creep, as was Picasso, de Kooning and a host of other great artists. One of my favorite films is Woody Allen’s faux-documentary “Sweet and Lowdown” about Emmet Ray, the second greatest jazz guitarist that ever lived. The film portrays Ray as a kleptomaniac, a selfish womanizer and a guy whose favorite hobby is to “go to the dump and shoot rats”; but even in the film portrayal there is little doubt that he was a great artist, because he didn’t play notes he played emotion.

Are all artists creeps? No – Chagall was a notoriously nice guy. Matisse seems to have been pretty swell as were the majority of the Impressionists. However, for many artists I believe the very nature of the artistic process demands intermittent moments of self-involved greed. I know for me and my work… that’s the only way to get anything accomplished. – DN

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Week of Living Past Dreams

We’ve been under a bit of snow the last few days. Schools closed the last couple days due to the harsh weather and the kids got an early start to their winter break. I’ve been making more attempts at actually paying attention to my children as opposed to the usual routine of letting the local rattle snakes play baby sitter, whilst I paint the days away. I’ve taken the rare, though still brief break from “the work”, in order to build up moments of personal inspiration to utilize for paintings, later in the month.

Considering some summer painting opportunities in Washington or Montana; feeling the need to drop-out of the world for a while, again, and either explore new sections of the far northwest country or at least revisit old stomping grounds via paintbrush and hiking boots.

Don’t get me wrong, the local southwest cacti are beautiful under their recent blanket of snow, as are my Sangre de Cristo Mountains covered with their paths of white-coated low-rising trees. While others look at the high desert snowfall with surprise and wonder, I catch myself mired in the gloom of its impeding passing. Satisfaction with the southern winter moment, at hand, is a hard concept to live when one has stomped through powdered glory at lower elevations of the far north during mid-July. - DN

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I read about this a while back, but was still surprised by the results.

Search for "failure" in google and see what pops up first...

click here


Miami Basel 2006

As America’s biggest art show, Miami Basel goes full force I thought I should at least look around online for images, if I can’t actually make it to the show.

I really enjoyed the above work by the California abstract colorist, Stan Kaplan.

Not such a big fan of the performance work, below:

This is an image from last year's show, I don't know much about it, but I love the imagery... so I'll have to keep searching to find out more.


Monday, December 18, 2006


I’ve previously mentioned the extremes of minimalism in both lifestyle and art. From Thoreau’s Walden to Rothko’s color field paintings; there is a common bond of self-regeneration through the acquisition and process of having more by making less.

Despite its new-age, Taoist/Zen façade; Santa Fe is hardly a refuge for the non-consumer. Average home values start in the $450k range and middle class is code for private school. One has to wonder if the closest we can get to a simplified life in the 21st century, is just living in a smaller rural township. Even the smallest western boroughs boast cable internet and pay-per-view television. So it isn’t necessarily a refuge from technology I seek (and I’m fairly sure I’d have quite a difficult time surviving without modern conveniences). At this point in human history I think the best we can hope for is a refuge from commercialism. A place without $300/night hotel rooms or a legitimate downtown only pocketed with the occasional tourist trap amongst the viable shops, rather than completely replaced by coffee mug and beaded jewelry emporiums.

I’ve been fighting for a minimalist attitude in my more recent works; yet it seems a difficult approach when a landscape painter has to look around the billboards to view the mountains. – DN

Friday, December 15, 2006

I feel better now...

"The most artistic thing Kurt Cobain ever did was paint the ceiling with his brains..." - Quote-Doug Ramm 2006

Wow, that's dark, even for me. - DN


"Next week Tan Dun will be the first composer in more than 60 years to conduct his own opera at New York's Met. Ten years in the making, it's a hugely ambitious project for all involved," and will be the most expensive production the Met has ever mounted. Ultimately, Tan "is stretching for a new musical form that is neither oriental, nor western, nor, crucially, a fusion of the two."
The Guardian (UK) 12/15/06

Why is this such a rare phenomenon? - DN

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Where we start, where we arrive.....

A friend passed this on to me:

Published: May 21, 1989

LEAD: Carrington Coburn Schach, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Oscar Schach of Pittsburgh and Christiansted, V.I., was married yesterday to Daniel Covington North, a son of Judge and Mrs. John Cannon North 2d of St. Michaels, Md. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Arthur McNulty at the Calvary Episcopal Church in

Carrington Coburn Schach, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Oscar Schach of Pittsburgh and Christiansted, V.I., was married yesterday to Daniel Covington North, a son of Judge and Mrs. John Cannon North 2d of St. Michaels, Md. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Arthur McNulty at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh.

Tracy S. Simpson was her sister's matron of honor. David Jeffrey North served as his brother's best man.

Mrs. North, who is known as Carey, is a marketing consultant in New York. She graduated from Wheaton College and was presented at the Cinderella Ball in Pittsburgh. Her father is a senior vice president of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith in Pittsburgh.

Mr. North manages the computer division of Engineering Computer Optecnomics, a naval architecture and marine engineering concern in Annapolis, Md. He graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia. He is the commodore of the Chesapeake Bay Log Sailing Canoe Association. His father, who recently retired as the judge of the Circuit Court for Talbot County in Easton, Md., is the chairman of the Critical Areas Commission for the Chesapeake Bay. New York Times

Amazing what lives are open and closed to us, regardless of a name. My father was a teacher and my mother a government clerk; not much better was wanted or expected of me… then again that seems to be the way of Midwesterners if one believes Garrison Keillor… or is that simply the nature of those that abide under the banner of being “God-fearing”. Sometimes religion is a helpmate, for me it has mostly felt as a yoke around my neck. I’ve been a painter over half my life and every conversation with my parents still starts-off with “have you found a job, yet?” The wedding announcement for this other “Daniel North” was written nearly twenty years ago… wonder how the commodore’s life turned-out.

Names and titles are often superfluous, but occasionally they carry a mantle of purpose. I have a number of works from my early post-college career that I never signed, simply because I wanted to avoid interference with the composition. Though, I miss one or two works, I honestly don’t recall the rest. Would a signature do anything for me, or just assist those carving-up my estate, after I pass. Do those older works represent where I came from? I don't even know how much light they shed on where I arrived. - DN

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Virginia Teacher Suspended for Painting With Butt

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia school district has suspended an art teacher who they say may be setting a bad example for students with his own extracurricular activity — butt painting.

Stephen Murmer, a self-described "butt-printing artist," was placed on administrative leave Friday by the Chesterfield County school district.

Going by the name Stan Murmur, the teacher sells floral and abstract paintings that he calls "anthropometric monotypes" created by plastering his rump and genitals in paint and pressing them against a canvas. His paintings sell online for upwards of $900.

"I am certainly proud of the ass painting," Stan Murmur said on a "Unscrewed With Martin Sargent" clip downloaded by Wednesday on YouTube. "I do have a real job where I do have real clients, and I don't think they'd be too understanding if I was also the guy that painted with my ass."

In the clip, Murmur appeared wearing only a black thong and "Groucho" glasses to demonstrate a style of painting he learned in college.

"I followed a girlfriend into a painting and printmaking class," he told host Sargent in the clip. "We had an assignment where we had to create an organic stamping object, bring it in as a print and display it to the class. I chose my ass as that object."

Murmer is known as a popular, joke-cracking art teacher at Monacan High School in Virginia.

Chesterfield County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow says school system regulations state that teachers must set an example for students through their personal conduct.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia says the suspension goes against Murmer's First Amendment rights.'s Sara Bonisteel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

I mentioned this guy’s work and directed readers to his website link, maybe last spring. Unfortunately, it looks like people are once again forced to sell their individuality and personal lives when they choose to sign a $20k/year teaching contract. While I may not be a fan of “butt-painting”, I do appreciate the fact that his wages are most likely below the poverty level and he has found a way to supplement. When I taught, I knew a numbers of fellow teachers that worked in liquor stores or bars to make extra cash. I wonder if he would have lost his job, if he painted classical European nudes. I remember a student that refused to use an art history text because she found works inside offensive (the specific pieces were by Donatello). Where is the obscenity line drawn in the sand? Who holds the stick of power and judgment? – DN

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Work

The above five paintings were completed the last week of November. They were a continued study of form, composition and alternative approaches to minimalism; while building ideas for the next week's body of work:

I completed these last six paintings the first week of December. I utilized a combination of alternative minimalism and layering of multiple mediums to produce narratives of illusionary simplicity. The house/home motif as been invading my work on a more frequent nature, lately. Can one experience abandonment if there is still an available home. In our modern world do the far reaches of the psyche overwhelm the distant outpost of the American west? - DN

Monday, December 11, 2006

High Desert Snow

Studio under snow

Looking southeast towards my mountain

Samuel and Dylan Thomas (notice all their toys under snow... it came-up on us rather quickly)

Maddie, Samuel and Dylan Thomas

The pics are from last week's storm, though, I am currently watching the same accumulation begin outside my dining room window.

The plan is to shoot and upload images of the nine new paintings I've finished over the last two weeks. The museum in Alberta contacted me and wants some photo-quality images, so that's the rest of my day, as well. I don't mind the PR, most days I'm even glad to do it, especially when the results include my work getting shown in highly-respected venues.

I lost three shows last year due to American politics. Two galleries in Canada dropped me because "Americans aren't received well, right now". One of my biggest shows was a group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Minsk (Belarus... white Russia). Not long after the curator invited me and my work for a May 2006 exhibit, Condi Rice went on television and called their president the last remaining evil dictator in Europe. Shortly after, everything American was temporarily banned. Hence, no more show.

I'm hoping the recent elections will show the rest of the world we're not a bunch of Bushbots and maybe I can start showing internationally, again. - DN

Friday, December 08, 2006

Money for Art... or Art for Money?

"Art is making more money than ever before. This year, a new world record was set for the most expensive painting of all time - and broken a few months later. There is a frenzy in the market that encompasses everything from contemporary art to looted Greek and Roman antiquities. Unexpected discoveries fuel the fantasy that you or I can participate in this greedy sport, that valuable masterpieces lie in attics or cupboards, waiting to be recognised... There are only two questions about art we all recognise. But is it art? And if it is, what's it worth?" The Guardian (UK) 12/07/06

On that note, here is a link for a recently released film called “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

The film is the true story of a woman that bought a Pollock painting at a thrift shop for $5. The title of the film comes from the statement she made to her Art professor friend when he said, “Wait a second, I believe this may be a Jackson Pollock.” The documentary follows her battle to sell it for $50 million; along the way turning down a $9 million offer and battling experts that doubt its legitimacy because a lack of provenance.

A couple days ago I posted a blog about a young artist turning $5k-15k per painting and his marketability at Miami Basel. Previously, I’ve mentioned the absurd auction prices for works by Klimt and Picasso (despite the fact that I am a huge fan of both artists); the dominance of “cowboy art” across the western United States, because it is an easy tourist sell; and I dare admit that I am hardly giving away my own paintings for free. So at what moment did art as a commodity bypass the concept of technical merit and original conception? Traditionalists may say it occurred at the turn of the last century with the rise of the industrial age and the Barons of Industry - that moment when technology “forced” realist painters to seek out new methods of self-expression. Art historians may claim it has always been this way. Michelangelo as well as other Renaissance artists painted biblical scenes because that was their market. Court painters under France’s Louis XIV, such as Adams Van der Meulen, created works about military conquest… because that was where the demand lay.

However, regardless of marketability, I still believe a great artist has to cut-off the yoke of fiscal influence when fighting through the creation process. Which is why my newest work (images to come) will shock some as my artistic direction again readjusts focus inward, away from the proven desires of gallery exhibits and my collector’s ambitions. Believe it or not, I don’t harbor a secret passion for career suicide. Sure, when I left Montana, my sales were topping the highest of my career (to that point) and I was garnering new collectors every couple weeks… it would have been fiscally sound for me to remain in place and ride-out the windfall; but I was ready to see something new and my process for making art was beginning to crave a change of influence. So here I find myself again, in a good place with strong gallery representation and a large body of work sitting in my comfortable studio. I spend most nights in an unending moment of waking dreams; only half-asleep while drifting to far away lands filled with abstracted symbols that I can only reinterpret with paint the following day. The work is beginning to drastically change again and I wonder how much longer I can remain without losing the following I’ve already built in this mountainous southern land. Change is good for my soul, whatever that may entail; and I realize that the moment I start to actively care about maintaining my momentum in sales or fitting within a genre of preconceived saleable work – I take the chance in interrupting my creative evolution. One missed step in the life-long process of making art could lead to a false outcome. Everything must be for the sake of the moment in the process; therefore everything can only be one thing… true. – DN

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let the critics roll...

Below are two interesting articles about the impact of critics and criticism on visual and performing artists.

In New York, a play, concert series, or art exhibit can be made or broken on the say-so of a handful of extremely influential critics. So how do the artists who submit their work for the approval of such tastemakers feel about the job the critics do? Time Out New York found out, and the results were, well, predictable. Time Out New York 12/07/06 Click here to read the full article.

Apollinaire Scherr, who also serves as dance critic for Newsday, was one of the critics put to the test in Time Out's survey, and she came out of the fire unscathed. But she also feels that the process used to conduct the survey was seriously flawed, from the selection of critics discussed to the inclusion of publicists on the judging panel. Foot In Mouth (AJ Blogs) 12/06/06 Click here to read the blog.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When We Can't Find the Words

The announcement of the Turner prize came at an interesting moment in the development of my own work. I spoke about this year's winner in yesterday's blog and got a bit of reaction back from you the readers. The timing of the Turner Prize naming a painter as the winner, coincided with a recent NY Times article about another up and coming painter of merit (picked by NY, not me).

One of my favorite tasks is to sit around on Sunday morning spending a few hours reading the New York Times while munching on biscuits and gravy or danish; while sipping a couple carafes of coffee from my French press.

This Sunday, I found myself reading and rereading, while chewing my cheese danish, an article titled “The Debutante’s Ball” about 25-year-old artist Ted Mineo. His work was alright, futurism meets surrealism, mixed with a bit of the fantasy role-players shop. You know the type I am talking about – that knife shop in the mall that sells pewter dragons, reproductions of swords from the Lord of the Rings films and strange little paintings of elves and magicians on mirrors. While I am glad that both the Turner Prize and the New York Times are returning a bit of focus to painters, I have to question their choices for our neo-saviors of painting. Mineo’s works sell on average between $5k and $15k. He returns to Miami Basel for his second year at America’s premiere art fair. I believe one quote in the NY Times compares the Miami show to the Venice Biennial and I have to say that is fairly accurate. I visited his website and found a small amount of work and a resume/bio; but no statement. Nothing to explain why he paints nymphs and gargoyles on one piece and a sandwich with a thorn of crowns on another (I can guess on this one and even appreciate his technical skill with oils). He was controversially plucked out of grad school (Yale, mind you) and carried into the New York gallery scene in the pocket of a prominent gallerist.

Click here to read the article and here to view Mineo's website. (I tried to upload some images of Mineo's work, here, but blogger is giving me hell.)

Back to my own work, I work near the concept of a painting-a-day. I don’t aim my work in that direction, it just seems to happen. That type of projection forces one to continuously rehash concepts and subjects in new directions. Yesterday, I finally made some breakthroughs in my approach to minimalism, representation and composition. I’ll post new images in a day or two. At the end of the day, I’m still a visual person and I’ve finally reached a moment in my painting where it may be difficult to “describe” the work. Is this where Mineo finds himself? I’m doubtful, but then again, I have yet to see the work in person. That is always the true test; can the work stand-up with a personal viewing.

On that note, I’ve gotten a few e-mails asking where to see my work around the country. My current exhibition schedule for solo shows in 2007:

April – Bill McIntosh Gallery, Billings, Montana

Sept. – Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, California

Dec. – Margaret Harwell Art Museum, Poplar Bluff, Missouri

Date undecided – Palette Contemporary Art & Craft, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The above is just a list of upcoming solo venues. Throughout the year, I am continuously involved in group shows around the country. I’m also waiting on confirmation from a gallery and museum in Canada; which I will post the results of later. – DN

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time for another art award...

The controversial “Turner Prize” for modern art has selected it’s first female recipient in it’s 22-year history. German artist, Tomma Abts was handed the $50k prize by fellow artist Yoko Ono. The artist is known for her small oil paintings and acrylics that are always presented in the same 48-centimetre by 38-centimetre (19-inch by 15-inch) format.

Click here to read the entire article.

So what are some of your opinions of the work? Is it worth a $50k recognition? I understand the concept of creating a painting without sketches or a preconceived notion, but is the above really that original? I really like the fourth painting. The first and third pieces look like something created in the 80's and second reminds me of early abstract expressionism before it haad fully castoff cubism. Then again, maybe that's what she was going for...– DN

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fractal Geometry

"In an article published this week in the prestigious science journal Nature, two physicists contend that a method intended to identify complex geometric patterns in the seemingly chaotic drip paintings of Jackson Pollock is flawed and may be useless in the increasingly convoluted world of authenticating Pollock’s work."
The New York Times 12/02/06

I watched a bit of television late Friday evening and saw an episode of “Numb3rs” that focused on using math to authenticate artwork. The primary key to their ability to “tell” one legitimate piece from a fake was by tracing the depth and length of the artist’s brushstrokes. I wonder where that puts me and my work. I purposefully change techniques and materials on a regular basis, in an effort to find new ways of expressing a singular style. The only time one sees a brushstroke in my work, is when I intend to put it there. I realize the popularity of the television show “Numb3rs” and the neo-American need to turn every mystery of life into an episode of “C.S.I.”, but Pollock was not a mathematician. He lived for randomness in both his work and relationships. He was the worst kind of criminal from the perspective of a mathematician. He played their game, but refused to look at their rulebook. Pollock is one of those artists where the work’s authenticity depends upon the provenance. The same may one day be true of my own art. – DN

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Alone With My Lyrical Paintings

I’ve been told that my paintings edge towards the graphically-influenced. It’s true that I was raised by the video gods that started with a VCR in every home (I remember my friend Howard Short had the only Beta machine in Poplar Bluff, Missouri), hacking games on a Commodore 64 and reveling in the first generation of Nintendo. I used my school lunch money to buy comic books, when I should have been eating from a government-approved menu. When I first left high school for college, I had dreams of becoming an animator.

A lot happened along the way. I fell in love with paint and the act of telling a lifetime of stories with a single image. I was never very good at working within a group – that should have been an early sign that I wouldn’t find happiness in the collaborative nature of animation, illustration or graphic design. The downside of my years directing an Arts Council were all the moments I had to share my decisions and ideas with my board of directors. I knew the ideas had merit and I knew they’d get approved; but the simple fact that I had to involve someone else in my creative process was uncomfortable. I changed my major from graphic design to study painting and drawing, under a photorealist, after only one semester in college. The design courses involved turning-in thumbnail sketches for approval as well as other methods of “hand-holding” for every project. The idea was to prepare students for the rigors of working with clients and editors; it didn’t fit within my process. Painting and drawing classes were much different. Start a work on Monday, finish it sometime Thursday night (or Friday morning) and hang it for critique on Friday. Love it or hate it, no matter… start another one in class the next Monday. It was the process of continually painting that I kept with me after those days had passed into memory.

Not soon after, I acquired a family – first a wife, then children. I left four years of the Arts Council world behind in order to teach and begin showing my own art for the next five years. Next, I left teaching to exhibit fulltime and I was still young so the draw of a dependable income didn’t influence me quite as strongly as it probably should have; though I never really considered the loss of steady pay as a drawback to my traveling lifestyle. A few years ago, while visiting Santa Fe for the first time, I took-in an Arthur Wesley Dow exhibit at the Fine Art Museum. I was forever changed by his early 20th century woodcuts created in homage to the Japanese artists of the “Orient”, as it was popularly called at the time.

Today, I largely create paintings with more than a hint of that graphic influence. My process tends to put more emphasis on the idea of utilizing printmaking techniques to create monotype-esque paintings than any actual effort towards modernizing subjects for the 21st century or attempting to create pure monotypes from the standpoint of a traditional printmaker. I truly enjoy the random process I invent along the way and live to create challenges for myself with each new piece. For example I have a painting on display at my gallery in Albuquerque that was created entirely with a brayer; another that was created using only a single 2”x4” uncut block of balsa wood. I like the challenge of unconventional materials to enhance my journey in the creation of a piece and the story it tells. There was a period of literally months in Montana, when I created stacks of paintings with only a bottle of sumi ink and a one-inch flat brush (not the typically recommended tool for a sumi-e painter). I like reading the rule book, then laughing as I ignore the laws of traditional painting. My daughter dreams of being a novelist, I tell her work hard to learn all the ridiculous rules of grammar so that no one has a reason to complain when you choose which ones to cast aside. – DN

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Immersion Travel at Home

Can an artist participating in the “Immersion Travel” art movement stop traveling to new unfamiliar regions for a period of years, then begin again, without a perceived interruption to the philosophy?

I believe such a dichotomy can occur if the traveler, while remaining home, becomes immersed into previously unexplored societies or groups within the region. For example:

Alyah is a Hebrew term that refers to the honored act of “going up” to the Torah to read; it is also used to describe a return to Israel (not as a visit put as a return home). Despite a youth spent in the rolling Missouri Ozark hills, for the most basic reasons that many may not understand, I consider my only actual home to be located in a small town in north central Montana, near Glacier National Park. If I were to return there one day for a “temporary break from the traveling life”, then I would most likely attempt to embed myself, for a handful of years, into one of the region’s local Hutterite colonies in order to better understand and appreciate their unique communal lives. Perhaps my realization of Santa Fe’s California-style-Zen, has led me to question if the true northern Anabaptist communes (that are completely unfamiliar with the teachings of Lao Tzu, Mencius and Buddha) may have a firmer grasp on embracing fleeting existence.

That is not to say that the Hutterites are the only option for a wandering artist and moonlight-anthropologist. Possibly someone else would take the same region and prefer to explore the neighboring Blackfeet Nation in order to present a more accurate reflection of Native Americans in the 21st Century.

I admit that I have no immediate plans for a temporary sabbatical from my present travel itinerary; but that’s the funny thing about a home – although its very nature produces a sense of comfort, that same place can continuously maintain the mystery of return. I haven’t seen my little English cottage on the prairie in over a year. It has been even longer since I bird-hunted with my young friend while his black Lab, Mandy, scared pheasant from the northern Montana field bottoms. I can still hear his yell, “Hunt’em-up, Mandy!” For a brief moment, last week, when it came time to carve the Thanksgiving turkey; it was where my heart most longed to exist. – DN

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I like pie...

The night before Thanksgiving, I ran into the neighborhood supermarket for white syrup (KARO for non-southerners). Simmer fresh diced sweet potatoes in white syrup and brown sugar for an hour or so to get that wonderful waxy consistency on the yams. While searching the isles, I bumped into the parents of one of my daughter’s friends. The wife was discussing her last minute pilgrimage for a turkey, when I mentioned that we were making way too much food for just our small family; and that my wife had spent the better part of the day baking five pies. The husband interrupted to ask, “Five pies?” Wanting to hear the rest of his wife’s story, I simply replied, “I like pie”, and turned back to let her finish. He immediately began waling with laughter. It was at that moment that I knew I wouldn’t live this one down. We finished the conversation and separated, they to find ingredients for dressing and I to search for white syrup; but it is a small store and every few minutes we would meet-up again on the random isle and he would start to laugh and wave an apology. What can I say – I like pie.

I must admit I’ve always had a bit of a problem with obsessing. I’m that person that starts the car then gets out again, checking the front door just one last time before heading towards town. My wife thinks it’s hilarious; humorous in the way that the guy in the grocery store found my admission to pie obsession to be a riot. I wash my hands like fifty times a day and whenever someone exits a restroom, I have to tell myself to refrain from asking if they remembered to wash their hands, too. Yet, I distinctly recall riding in a friend’s hunting truck on numerous mornings, having just handled dead pheasant and now eating cold pizza with unwashed hands. I also remember a morning two years ago, when my hands were covered in blood after field dressing a mule deer and I ate an entire bag of guacamole chips without a second thought. So I began to think about quarks we all have and if mine are so damn funny to everyone, there has to be someone out there with a worse one that could keep me laughing for years. I did some google searches on strange obsessions and this was the best one I found:

I have this problem that no-one takes seriously. I can't help it. It started when I was a kid. But I like going to parks and touching the ducks. But in November a park keeper caught me fiddling with one, and called the police. I had to lie and say I was rescuing it from drowning. They didn't believe me, I could tell, but they couldn't arrest me because it wasn't a crime. Anyway, some bastard told the local press, and I was in the paper. There was no picture but my name was in the same sentence as 'duck molesting.' I'm so embarrassed, I'm going to lose my job because I'm a vet. Once, someone bought a duck in that had been attacked by a dog. I asked everyone to leave the room so as not to shock it. Really I just wanted to touch it. It died not long after. Anyway, I saw a shrink and told him but he laughed. He asked me why ducks? I said because they had chubby cheeks and looked cute. Also they are slippery when wet. I like that. I like squirrels too, but I've never tried to fiddle with one. I might soon if I don't get help. - Quack, quack (2/15/00) - Lionel, England, Age 28

You’ll be laughing about this the next time you see a duck or an Englishman holding a duck, you just wait. – DN

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Living with memories...

If you experienced a painful or traumatic event, would you want a pill which could lessen the bad memories of what happened? That option might soon be here because of a drug called propranolol. – “60 Minutes”, 11/26/2006

What is the old saying: “Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

My memories both haunt and sustain me. It is the effort of learning and growing from the memory of past actions that instills itself as a muse in my creative process. Would 9/11 reoccur if enough of us that chose to forget it could just pop a pill? Would we eventually dig-up another Bush boy for election if we could forget that the Iraq war has now outlasted our involvement in WWII?

I’ve been writing on the same unfinished novel for five years. The entire basis for the book is overcoming a traumatic situation. If I could just take a pill, I’m sure my life would feel more pleasant – but I didn’t actually heal. Don’t get me wrong, as you’ve read from previous blog posts, I have little trouble justifying the ability to “self-medicate”, but I’m not crazy enough to believe that process can be continuous or even… enough. That is the true purpose of the memories and the writing for me; to find a way to heal – not to forget. – DN

Monday, November 27, 2006

Places Not Forgotten

I had a friend in college that didn’t seem to have much going for him. Jason was short, had a downright scary resemblance to Gilbert Godfrey and spent seven years in college just to get an undergraduate degree in Biology. Everyone liked Jay, except those that didn’t. Unfortunately for him, that included his St. Louis-based postal worker parents. He was forced to return to them every summer between the spring and fall school terms and I believe it caused him to drag out his education before feeling as if he had to make a permanent return home. In retrospect, I tend to believe his life was not turning out at the time as he may have once planned it.

But my opinion really doesn’t matter; because Jason had a dream. During the four years I knew him, he never stopped talking about it. To anyone that would listen, he’d say, “I’m a biology major because I want to find the cure for AIDS”. It was always a kind of a far-off pipe-dream; but what true dream isn’t? I don’t know what Jason is doing these days. I’m not positive I care for reasons that are anything but selfish. I probably kept Jay around in college because, at the time, his seemingly horrible existence lent a shimmer to my own less than stellar accomplishments. Though, I must admit that I also enjoyed his ability to dream.

I have thrown away more friendships and relationships than I care to recall. Occasionally, the loss of a friend was cognitive; a good opportunity to grow beyond their reach. Often, though, I fear the reasons were more about personal laziness. It’s possible that many of the instances were mutual, but I still often wonder if my approach to life and art would be different if I had more than the one or two people that I could steadily count upon; then again I guess that’s one or two more people to hold me upright than most others may have available. All of the above instances can equally be stated for a place or moment in time. What places have I stayed, that I fled under the banner of personal growth? I can immediately recall the psyche damaging environments that surmounted to relief at the moment I left them; but what of the other situations? That’s what it is you know… a place is really nothing more than a situation. When I paint the landscape of my current existence, I’m simply painting my situation and the emotions it elicits. – DN

Friday, November 24, 2006


I have had the same thought running through my head for three days. Something I have heard repeatedly, but only just now paid attention to:

Restore me to beauty.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Savvy Populist

"There's actually an odd correlation between these ideas: poetry is either inadequate, even immoral, in the face of human suffering, or it's unprofitable, hence useless. Either way, poets are advised to hang our heads or fold our tents. Yet in fact, throughout the world, transfusions of poetic language can and do quite literally keep bodies and souls together - and more." The Guardian (UK) 11/20/06

My youngest son, Dylan Thomas, loves music. One of his favorites is “We’re Having a Party” by Sam Cook. When my daughter was very young we convinced her to ignore her nighttime fears of sleeping alone, by playing the Robert Cray tune “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”. She still considers it HER song. Songs make money… songs are respectable.

In Santa Fe, there are a number of bookstores that specialize in Art Books. Unfortunately, the criteria for admission to their shelves involve one of the following:

  1. Dead
  2. Native American (for the tourists)
  3. Thomas Kincade

I’m still not won-over with the idea of prints, but I like the concept of making a book featuring numerous reproductions of my work. I’ve tossed around the idea of creating a couple art books of my own work. Each book is a different locale, with paintings in place of photographs and descriptions of place and the reason for making the painting in place of narrative.

Although, I suppose, I’d have to do one of the following to sell the book from the shelf of a retail shop:

  1. Die
  2. Lie about my heritage
  3. Paint Crap

I’m not really that pessimistic… no that’s not true, either. – DN

Monday, November 20, 2006

When it's difficult to leave, even with effort...

Thursday is already Thanksgiving, which is to say, this week is Thanksgiving. I know many of my reader are from outside the United States, so I’ll put my favorite holiday into perspective for you. Very little outside of Thanksgiving preparations will get done from now till Thursday; Friday through Sunday is reserved for recovery time. As Americans, we are notorious for our all-you-can-eat-style culinary habits, so let’s put it this way – Thanksgiving is the mother of all buffets.

Last week, I returned to the mountains outside Taos for a rather chilly roadside picnic and brief adventure down random unmarked mountain side-roads. This is something I have done since my youth. My childhood friend Gaelon earned his driver’s license a year before me and I recall many trips in his father’s Buick across the dusty southern Missouri terrain without a map or general sense of direction. The hills were low-rising and we mainly sought them out for the purpose of jumping with a family sedan that had known nobler times before we came along. These last few years, I have aspired towards mountains, rather than hills; with the thought of finding something over the rise or around the bend always at the forefront of my mind.

Taos was a natural direction for my meandering conscious last week and when I saw the sign for a slightly-hidden Buddhist Monastery, I knew which way to turn the car. Along the washed-out gravel road, I passed a middle-aged black woman sitting in a fold-out camping chair at the edge of the road overlooking a narrow stream. She was simply staring out across the woods, listening to the water, I assumed. When I returned about an hour later, she had not moved. Further up the mountain I drove-by an older truck hanging halfway into the road, parked in a crooked haphazard manner, though the engine was still running. After that, I continued up the mountain at a snail’s pace, waiting to cross paths with anyone else that had chosen to rapidly exit society. It took a bit of time, the radio was playing an old Nat King Cole cassette I had bought at Goodwill (with a recent stash of book purchases) and I was beginning to wonder if the sign for the monastery had sufficiently described the hidden path.

After a serious of fictional dead-end signs, I finally reached my journey’s end. The road was blocked by a cattle guard, heavy gate, barbed-wire and innumerable “no-trespassing” postings. Not the open-armed invitation of non-violence that I expected. I stood at the fence for a while, thinking about the last time I was disappointed by contemporary Buddhism.

Natalie Goldberg is a locally famous Taos author that has written a number of books revolving around the subject of being a Jewish-Buddhist writer. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever encountered another author that has written so many books about writing, but no books about anything else. Not long after arriving in New Mexico, I attempted to listen to the audio version of her tome “The Long Road Home”. I easily grow tired of Top-40 radio and am easily angered by AM-Talk so I often listen to audio books, while painting. I’m sure the actual writing of the book was not horrific; otherwise, I doubt she’d be so well published. Unfortunately, the author was reading her own work and after a single tape (out of 8), I had to open the door and chuck the entire set out into the cactus. Goldberg’s monotone voice pushed me to the edge of convulsions. Her nasal Brooklyn accent though endearing when I hear it from some of my friends, made me want to order a deli sandwich just so I could asphyxiate on the large kosher pickle. Worst of all, I really wanted to enjoy her book. Why oh why, couldn’t she afford a decent actor to read in her place? But perhaps that is the way of the Taos Buddhist.

After taking in the limited sights of the monastery, I returned to my vehicle and began the descent towards home. I was disappointed with the outcome of the trip; I had expected something better than a modernized fortress, dotted with prefab buildings. Near the entrance I returned the wave of another woman walking up the road to the mountain retreat. She had the familiar white earbud wires running from her head to a pocketed iPod. I assumed it was her Subaru, I pulled past as I looked for oncoming traffic before rejoining the asphalt trail to civilization, though I doubted I had ever really left. – DN

Sunday, November 19, 2006

First there were artists...

Torah (Five Books of Moses) starts with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It has been said that G-d was creating and destroying worlds prior to this one and that Torah starts with Bet rather than Aleph, to signify that there is something that came before Genesis. Now there are all sorts of Kabbalistic teachings that expand upon this idea, which I don’t care to get into, because I have trouble buying into much if any of Kabbalah. While I like the idea of becoming esoteric, I have problems binding it to acceptable concepts of spirituality. Ironically, I have found the ability to reach transcendence within my own acts of creation. What did I learn through these acts that led to new moments of creative energy?

I live to produce a painting a day. It’s gotten to the point that I have to produce like a factory just to keep-up with my exhibition schedule. I already know for the end of my 2007 exhibition season, I have to have a minimum of 80-85 scroll paintings set aside just for two solo museum shows. The combination of ongoing sales, spring/summer gallery exhibits through the year and set-up/tear-down times for the two fall shows will overlap in the month of November; hence I need a cache of scroll paintings set-aside. It’s not a problem; this is what I live for. I love the deadline. I need the pressure to keep the production rolling.

I wonder how a novel written on-line would work. Say a page a day, much like my painting a day philosophy works. Written roughly five days a week to allow for holidays and travel and the like, it would take roughly two years to complete a 400-page opus. I’m sure I’m not the first to think of this journal-like approach to the writing of that one special book hiding one’s mind. The page-a-day concept though does something else – it tosses out the idea of a plan. Sure the author has a general understanding of the direction of the story; but there is not an opportunity to fine-tune or work on earlier sections to adjust characters or timelines. It’s very similar to the manner in which I paint. I have a loose idea of what I want to say within a series of paintings, but I make new discoveries while in the process of creation. I take those new concepts and add them to the next work, because I refuse to go back and change the painting. I don’t know where or when my own work will end with one series and begin anew on another. This returns me to one of the most controversial concepts of creation and monotheism – does G-d as a creator have a plan? Direction, yes; fixed destiny including a neatly packaged ending? I say no. Artists can’t work that way and keep the material fresh. Artists see where the work takes them, rather than taking the work to a predetermined ending. As you can see, I’m not big on pre-destiny; I grew-up in southeast Missouri. For all intents and purposes, I didn’t have much of a destiny to look forward to; so I made my own. Living in Montana confirmed for me that G-d was nothing short of an artist and artists of this caliber work for the sake of the process, not the ending. We’re all on this ride together, enjoy it while it lasts. – DN

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Building Blocks at Home or Elsewhere

My work is fairly conservative compared to the majority of what one might find in New York or Chicago. I’m more interested in the process of building my own materials and telling a narrative than shocking or striking fear into the hearts of mothers around the world. That’s not to say I’m not interested in highly conceptual artworks, I presently just don’t feel the need to work in that vein, myself.

Recently, my art has shown an aptitude for utilizing abstracted geometric color-fields to create recognizable forms; prior to this style I spent a month or so implementing print-making processes across the face of my paintings. To put it more simply, I am able to easily fill my studio time with the ongoing process of exploration within the innumerable mediums of two-dimensional art.

All of this leads me to wonder if the same can be said for subject. I mentioned before that Andrew Wyeth has been quite content to spend his life in one or two locations without any fear of losing inspiration for subject matter. A photographer friend of mine, Bernard Mendoza, spent thirteen years documenting the lives of Orthodox Jewish Communities across America. After a number of years exhibiting the completed collection, he sold the entire series to the Dallas Museum of Art. He has a laundry list of anecdotes regarding his years of study within a singular subject. Is this type of immersion art similar to the travel immersion theories I apply to my own work? It does seem as if the same methods are utilized when approaching subject and the narrative presentation of the final product.

I’m sure there are scores of conceptual artists that spend years exploring a specific genre or subject. I’m just not sure I’m designed to work in that manner for more than brief period of time. Sure I have ideas for different individualized projects, but I’m enamored by the process of building stories from the lives of those I encounter and for me, the most addictive material is paint, paper and canvas. – DN

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who Own's My Town

Nov. 10: A satellite photo shows a giant, 87,000 square foot version of KFC's new logo in the Nevada desert.

Last week, a Santa Fe mini-mall sign advertising Albertsons, Office Max and various other stores burned. If you slow down enough, while driving, the dried drips of flame retardant foam are still visible. I don’t know how it lit, I’m sure it was probably something non-descript like a common electrical fire; but the first thing I thought of was Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang.

Back in my old American Heartland stomping grounds, someone may need to “pull an Abbey” to save the rolling hills and prairies from commercial destruction. For all the quaint down-home simplicity claimed by many in the Midwest, it is a haven for ratty, tearing billboards. I recently read that Missouri, alone, has nineteen times as many billboards just on I-70 than found in the entire state of Colorado.

Probably the one item that causes me the most disgust in New Mexico is the graffiti. I used to live in downtown St. Louis, where stereotypes tell me that a 70% African-American population will lead to looting, shooting and GRAFFITTI; but St. Louis can’t hold a candle to the destruction found throughout this state. A few months ago, a number of Santa Fe Plaza galleries were covered with property destroying gang graffiti. My daughter’s school (considered one of the best in the area) was recently vandalized with spray paint, along with the neighboring community library. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, it is impossible to travel through Santa Fe without facing some kind of destruction caused by either gangs or commercialism. I spent the weekend in Taos and was revolted by the manner in which the once heavenly artist abode had commercialized – rolling in a fresh band of graffiti artists with its tourist dollars, as well. Don’t get me started on Albuquerque – the bigger the city… the worse the problem gets.

So what am I talking about here? Am I upset about commercialism or graffiti? Ironically, to quote one of Kubrick’s last commercially-successful films: What’s my major malfunction? (Full Metal Jacket)

I believe the two go hand in hand. Although sociologists try and make us pity the modern street gangs from the perspective of screwed-up-pseudo-families where multiple individuals join together as some freaky family-unit (that is notoriously incestuous and abusive); the true underlying reason for gangs before and gangs now is – MONEY. Overt-commercialism can not exist without a strong buying public and gangs cannot exist without a readily available source of targets. People are often surprised by the high-incidence of gang violence in the picturesque capital city. Let me tell you, people, it’s only going to get worse. At this moment there is not a public middle or high school in Santa Fe, Albuquerque or Taos that is not heavily infected with gangs. The median home value for a 3-bedroom in Santa Fe is topping $450k; the more expensive this place gets the more of a draw it will become for outside criminals – the more it will become a necessity for local members of the typically peaceful middle class to turn to burglary and the like to survive. The vandals around my fair city are not just taking pride in their skills with a spray can, their marking their territory and they don’t seem to care that someone else owns the deed. – DN

Monday, November 13, 2006


Eighty-nine year old, Andrew Wyeth is one of my favorite painters. Maybe it has something to do with my photo-realist training. Perhaps, I am intrigued by his continuous fifteen year obsession and secret paintings of the model, Helga Testorf. Then again I find the fact that he never really “went” anywhere as fascinating as my own selfish desire to travel everywhere. Wyeth has basically spent his long productive life in two places: Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Cushing, Maine. Rembrandt was equally notorious for never traveling very far from his Leiden birthplace. Can an anti-travel approach be just as strong of an inspiration as the immersion travel ideal?

I admit I have long collected fantasies of holing-up in a smallish cabin somewhere such as the Yaak Valley of Montana or some break-away outpost of the Alaskan interior; a place where my books and paint are the only opportunities for entertainment – living within a time when perfect moments are more important than responsible actualities.

The question is would it be enough? It wouldn’t take much to live on, if I were to eighty-six my lust for good cuisine and material entertainment; convince my family that new clothes (and everything else) are no longer necessary. Would a home/studio full of books and family be sufficient to keep one’s mind from straying to “grass is greener” clichés? A daily regiment of chores to keep the homestead operating, while still allowing time to read, write and paint; but I suppose this is becoming more of a description of self-reliance than anything else.

Although I practice my immersion travel art movement as a path to understanding the cultures, landscapes and societies encountered along the journey; I wonder if the same philosophy can be applied to a permanent stay in one unfamiliar location. A lifetime of dedication consigned to that one perfect place. An eternal moment that gives birth to an unending idea. Wyeth and Rembrandt seemed to have found some secret path or routine to satisfaction. Is that clandestine truth as elusive as it often seems? – DN

Friday, November 10, 2006

Eighty Degrees and Snow Means Time to Paint Faster

Art is totally hot right now, and we're not just talking about the big masterpieces that sell for millions at snooty auction houses in New York and London. "In an increasingly overheated world-wide art market, the demands of a voracious — and growing — community of buyers is putting pressure on artists to produce more work, faster, than ever before." - Toronto Star 11/10/06


I was going to call again last night, after I finished working in the studio, but you’re in a different time zone and I didn’t want to wake your children, given it was already late in Santa Fe and I live far west of you. I didn’t want to wake your children – how strange that sounds to me, though my offspring are even older than yours. At what point did we awake and decide that today was the day we should behave maturely?

I did a couple paintings yesterday. I finished one I had begun the evening before, then started and finished two more. In total, I spent about eleven hours in the studio; starting in the morning and finishing around ten-thirty. I don't usually paint with an idea in mind. I just start thinking about a theory or story or some philosophy that exists (or should) and I just flow into the work on some automatic-mode that is so relaxed, I can only assume it has always been a part of me.

The first painting I completed was of our Missouri home and youthful inability to “see the forest for the trees”. A tired cliché, I know… but how true it rings on a morning such as this when I glanced across an open sky to encounter the southern Rockies from my front yard.

The next work started while I was mulling-over these high desert opportunities I have witnessed (both for myself as well as others) in the past year. I started the work by drawing a fresh set of wooden doors breaking the high desert plains in front of zen-like mountains. When the piece was done… the doors had been repainted to appear closed. I swear I’m often only half-conscious when I work.

The last painting of the evening was of my old stomping grounds in Glacier County, Montana. I wasn’t thinking of the place on any conscious level; instead I was rolling around our conversation from Monday evening. I had mentioned that Sherri and I tentatively decided it would be time to give New York City a try, in a few years; you in-turn doubted my sanity. For the sake of my “career”, I know the next logical step is to take the time to acquire reliable long-lasting NYC gallery representation – and that requires living there. Manhattan is a far cry from the open American West I desire to love and protect for my little family. To further confuse my heart, yesterday afternoon, I read of early November Alaskan snow on another artist’s blog. I quickly fell into thoughts of following paths loaded with fresh spells of white soft manna towards a well-lit studio adjoining a warm home in remote branches of the far north. Sometimes I wonder if a strong winter is the sustenance I most need. – DN

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fame and Fortune

Around 7:30, last night I found myself in line at the neighborhood supermarket, buying a gallon of milk, carton of ice cream and a frozen “French Apple pie” from the locally famous Pink Adobe Restaurant. As you may have guessed, it was one of THOSE evenings.

As I lay my items on the conveyor belt I noticed a familiar person standing behind me in line. I turned to say hello and stopped. “Is that Val Kilmer?” I thought. I know he lives not too far away, in Pecos, and frequents one of the neighborhood restaurants (Wild Wild Wok). I looked down at what he was purchasing – “Wow, Val Kilmer, must really like Sam Adams Beer, he has a 30 pack case”, I mused to myself. I left the store and loaded my car, as I began to pull-out of the parking lot; I noticed my “Val Kilmer” getting into a beat-to-hell late-eighties Subaru. So, I suppose it wasn’t really him; but for me that guy in the grocery store was famous for five minutes, even if it wasn’t as himself.

I read something a while back that stated one cannot seriously seek both fame and fortune, simultaneously. If you want fortune – go to business school. If you want fame, go to theater school.

Now in both fields there are definitely exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions are very rare. Donald Trump is a famous businessman, partially because he is heartless and partially because he has the world’s most obscene comb-over. Famous actors are also the exception – if they are on television or in major motion pictures. How many average citizens can easily name one or any popular stage actors that have not also been featured in television or movies?

The art world is similar. Fame is mostly a regional occurrence. While an area may very often have a number of locally famous living artists in its midst, how often does their fame transcend the immediate region for international status? In my current locale, only one artist comes to mind – Judy Chicago. In Montana, it was Deborah Butterfield.

Hitting some far-off plateau of contemporary fame is only important in how it allows me to find permanent homes for my art. The process of regular sales is directly related to fame, but primarily only influences my ability to continue to paint free from the constraints of divisive influences such as being continuously broke.

I have come to believe that artists boasting regional fame have a much harder road when it comes to maintaining artistic integrity and avoiding the trap of the unending loop of repetition in their work. If one attains regional success (which is difficult enough); it is difficult to chance the butchering of relationships with established galleries or collectors for the sake of artistic exploration. Hence change style on a local stage and the artist risks alienation from their only source of income; take chances on a national or international stage and the artist is either a genius or simply “playing around with fresh ideas”.

I'm reminded of a time a few years back in St. Louis, I was standing in line behind a rather large fellow at a bookstore. The cashier loudly asked are you on tv or something? Then the distinct nasal voice of Louie Anderson whined back an affirmative reply. He then told her he was on the Family Feud to which the cashier replied, "Oh that's not it, I'd never watch that show."

Not all fame is a positive experience. Not all fame is necessarily healthy for your career. – DN

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I knew if I stayed home, yesterday, nothing would get done. Just a little too excited about Election Day to work in the studio. My wife and I had mailed in our absentee ballots the previous week, everyone can mark that as two votes AGAINST Senator Conrad Burns of Montana. They could have run a freakin’ killer grizzly bear against that SOB and I would have voted for the bear. Schools were closed since so many election centers are actually stationed in their facilities. So off we went to cruise around central New Mexico with a predictable destination of Albuquerque. Inevitably, I had to make a stop at… Goodwill (or Badwill as my children have come to call it).

I have a sickness… a true issue concerning the loving and hoarding of utter crap. This is a problem considering how often I choose to pack-up and move. It first happened years ago when I noticed a thrift store called “Teen Challenge” was located right next door to the gallery where I served as Assistant Director in southern Missouri. I had an affinity for old Super 8mm movie equipment and they frequently stocked my drug of choice. Years later, I rediscovered the thrift store addiction in the Goodwill stores of Montana, Idaho and Washington (Seattle has a huge store). The new item of my affection – cheap books. Quite by accident, I came to understand that the type of books I enjoy are often rejected by used book stores (lack of interest by the general populace) and thus often end-up in the $1 racks of Goodwill. Although, I dare say the Gideons and followers of the Mormon faith seem to be heavy suppliers of “materials” for Goodwill donation bookracks, there is also a high percentage of former purveyors of non-fiction adventure memoirs, travel narratives, philosophy texts and national parks photo-guidebooks. Therefore, me likey a lot.

Yesterday, I bought the travel memoir: The Jew in the Lotus about a man’s rediscovery of his Jewish roots via a journey through Tibet and India to meet the Dali Lama; a guidebook to the history of barn construction titled: An Age of Barns (very excited about using this one in a new series of work that will take the kitsch barn paintings that surrounded my youth and thrust them into a contemporary abstracted minimalist context); and Those Who Came Before: Southwestern Archeology in the National Park System – which is basically an in depth study of the people that populated the southwest a thousand years ago.

I also have a strange habit of what I term… good book rescue. If I see a dirt-cheap ($1 or less) copy of a book that has made a significant impact on my life – I buy it and give it away at a later date (often to strangers I encounter in the course of a day). There really isn’t a specific list of books that I search for; it is more an issue of running across one and feeling bad that it is considered seemingly worthless. Most often I find my self “rescuing” books by William Least Heat-Moon, Jon Krakauer, Hemingway and any of the beat writers (particularly Kerouac). In just the last week, I bought and gave away copies of Fountainhead (Rand), Blue Highways (Heat-Moon) and Into Thin Air (Krakauer). I probably lost a total of 75 cents on the venture; but what did the world gain if the strangers I gave the books to actually take the stories to heart? – DN

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Democrats Won... Move the Troops to Nigeria - Operation: Wipe-out Their Internet Cafes

My name is ANGELA LAKERS, i will like to order for a piece of your
art work from your gallery as gift for my parent who are celebrating
thier 30th wedding annivasarys , so i will be gald to have your reply
asap, i will be glad if you can send me your website address to
choose or send me four of your product that is availble for me to choose .
payment will be make by a chashier cheque.

Waiting to read from you today.


I receive a couple of these scam e-mails everyday. I am so sick of Nigerians assuming the majority of Americans are idiots. - DN

Monday, November 06, 2006

So... Why DOES the World Need Another Painting?

I was googling the question: how to become a famous artist for use in today’s blog post and this is the first thing I ran across:

I don’t believe in “Artists’ Statements,” those overblown and convoluted explanations about what artists do and what their paintings mean. In my books, catalogs, and articles I write about my life and experience as an artist, the way I feel about things that matter. You’ll note it doesn’t answer particular questions about my work.

There’s a reason.

Visual art doesn’t stand on words. They only muddy what a painting says. What’s on the canvas should not be explained away with clever talk. Writing or speaking about it is an intellectual process. My pictures are not intellectual. They’re intuitive, painted under the tutelage of a benign spirit, mostly. And he prefers to remain silent as well.

If I talked about my work, you’d see it the way I see it. If I told you what I meant when I painted a thing, or what I wanted to tell you when I chose a particular subject, I would corrupt you. I would take away the innocent pleasure of your first and subsequent looks. You would stand in front of the painting and think about my words, and thinking about them, you would not see what I painted. You would see what I told you to see. Even if you were strongly against seeing it this way, it would be an argument that would cloud your vision. It would not make for an interesting dialogue.

In short, the work is what it is. If it speaks to you, you’ll understand it. If it doesn’t, it won’t matter if I’ve supplied you with a whole lot of reasons for its importance. If it’s any good, you’ll already know everything about it.

Conversely, if it doesn’t speak to you, move on, forget about it. It’s my failure, not yours.

It’s up to the critic to describe what an artist’s work means. The artist himself is a poor source of information. He’s too close to it, he’s not an impartial witness and he’s probably not terribly coherent.

Art is a visual exchange between the one who paints it and the one who looks at it. It speaks all the languages, but none of them very well. -W. Joe Innis, Painter of Pictures

That has to be one of the most asinine statements I have ever read. Let’s put aside the obvious fact that his declaration of why “not to write an artist’s statement” is in fact an ARTIST’S STATEMENT! What legitimate artist depends on the critic for justification of the work? If you look at this guy’s work, you will notice that he is part impressionist and part realist, but absolutely no part of his work is actually original in concept. Of course he believes that artists do not need to think to paint – he doesn’t.

His work is “pretty”, but even the artist admits it is just a picture, devoid of meaning. Possibly devoid of purpose? Click here to view some examples of Innis’ work.

His final comment is the icing on the cake – if he truly believes that artists cannot clearly speak their mind to their audience, he either needs a new audience or a new style. Probably both….. – DN

Click here to read a decent article garnered from my original google search for how to become a famous artist.