Friday, September 22, 2017

Finishing Touches - The Seinfeld Effect

There is so much to write about these days - so many thoughts going through the old noggin about recent events. It seems that inside and outside the art world there is a tsunami of intolerance. I previously have mentioned Dana Shutz's painting of Emmett Till's casket, titled Open Casket, that created such a controversy at the Whitney Biennial.

emitt till

The image she painted was created from a photograph of a young African-American boy who was beaten to death. This image had its own life and symbolism in the African-American community and Ms. Shutz, a white artist, was told that she could not use the image, even if she, as a mother, could identified with the pain in the image. 
Fast forward a couple of months, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston announced that they will have a show of Ms. Shutz's work. People protested that the show should be cancelled because of Ms. Shutz's insensitivity to African-Americans even though Open Casket would not be in the show in Boston. None of her other work is considered derogatory towards African-Americans. Also, the show was set up prior to the controversy at the Whitney and announced after consulting with local arts leaders.

A few weeks ago, there was a Neo-Nazi march in Virginia that resulted in a woman protester being killed. There is little need to say much more about Nazi's than that the very definition is intolerance. They have been responsible for the murder of millions of people simply because they were not white or considered white. They are often oppressive and violent toward women simply because they are not men. Everyone other than the white male is considered inferior.


This is all scary and heavy. Everyone has their hair on end and have a trigger ready to be pulled if something is not acceptable. My observing and inquisitive nature makes me wonder how we got here. People can say Trump is the reason, but this started long before him. Others will go back to Reagan and the ending of the Fairness Act, which allowed hate radio to rise, leading to a misinformed and manipulated citizenry. But I can't help but think this goes back even further. I see the manipulation of the wealth of this country in the late 1800's that ultimately led to the Great Depression. I read about the history of immigration and how each new wave of immigrants became the rung on which the last wave rose. Each immigrant class is given some status as long as there is a newer class to be pushed down and prejudiced against. And then there is slavery. 

This country has always been about pitting people against each other. We have a myth that the ruling elite, the current supposed oligarchy, is unified in dividing and oppressing the rest of us. Yet, when you see one of the wealthiest persons become the President of the United States, he starts to turn on those around him, even those he has chosen to lead with him. Those around him start fighting for their own territory and throw anyone else under the bus, gladly.
I think of Seinfeld, the show that best captured the innocent version of this inability to be happy, to accept that life is good, to accept that we are good. There was always something wrong with every girlfriend, with every restaurant, every dish served, etc. In America, there is always something wrong with the other. In America, one mistake leads to a lifetime of opportunity for condemnation. Why are we so vicious and mean to each other? We return hate with anger, we return misunderstanding with shame, we return hurt with fists.
When do we help each other heal? Have computers so taken over our lives that we no longer know how to look into each other and see ourselves, to have empathy? Has the need to be unhappy, to see ourselves as a victim, made it impossible to truly see and understand others?
I am toying with the idea of a class about art and meditation and relation. Art can be a way to open up one's self to others, to share what is inside and to see what is inside others. There are many art forms that are meant to be meditative/contemplative. Could engaging in these art forms help bring about a change in ourselves? Could communal forms of this art bring about a change in our community? It is a question worth exploring.

Friday, September 15, 2017

What's Cooking In the Studio?

Compost- 7Along with the Featured Painting from the last post, I completed Sinkside Compost #7. As I mentioned, the style of this and #8 are looser than the previous ones. Part of the looseness in this one is the smaller panel size while still using the same size brushes. There was a lot of white food scraps in this composition with old lettuce leaves, egg shells and pale broccoli. Then there is a nice brown banana peel in there for contrast.

Trillium in process

Last month I showed the sketches of two potential watercolors for a commission. The trillium flower was chosen. Here is an image of the partially completed piece. It's about 95% complete. At this point I slow down in my painting. I will spend about an hour on it at a stretch and then let it sit for a few hours or a day. I slow myself down at the end of a botanical painting because I have learned that going too far is too easy. So I approach it cautiously, identifying only two or three places to improve at each sitting. Then critiquing it and determining the next two or three places for improvement the next time.

sketch---if-loving-you...What next, after the Sinkside Compost Series? I've been starting to think about a new direction my food paintings. Here is a sketch painting for a series of work that will look more at the psychological relationship we have with food. I am pairing up lines from love songs and songs about relationships with food that I am addicted to. I have been working hard at losing weight -- I have lost almost twenty pounds since the end of January. While restricting myself I have observed cravings and addictions to sugary foods and some other tempting treats. As a child of the 70's and 80's, I was indoctrinated to certain relational expectations via popular music. I find that both of these desires, for food and love, are similar and similarly warped by our culture. I will be talking about this in the next series. It should be interesting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sinkside Compost #8, oil paint on panel, 12" x 16"

Compost- 8- 3
Sinkside Compost #8
Oil Paint on Panel
12" x 16"
I continue to make paintings of my sinkside compost container. My initial plan was to make a series of ten panels. I have completed eight and designs for the last two are chosen. This particular painting is heavy on the oranges and yellows because of the sweet potato peelings and a rotting orange. The style of my last two sinkside compost paintings is a little looser and more defined by outlines (see #7 below). I don't paint with orange very often and had fun with the variations of orange and yellow. I particularly like the plastic container in this one. It is an old baby spinach container with a peel strip that you can see at the bottom edge. The reflections turned out to be quite effective.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Art Exhibit at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts

I am in a small group show at Banfill-Locke Art Center in Fridley, MN beginning September 2, 2017.
The exhibit, titled texture/imperfection/life – works by Marjorie Fedyszyn, Mark Granlund, Ellie Kingsbury will run from September 2 – 30, 2017 with the reception on Saturday, September 16 from 4 - 6pm.
All of the completed Sinkside Compost paintings will be on exhibited. It will be fun to see them all in one place, other than my studio. I will also have other food paintings on exhibit. It would be nice to see you there!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Studio Renovation Update

I took a little time off from renovating the new studio to have some fun in Chicago. But now I'm back framing in closets and bathrooms and windows.

Here is the basement.  It is one of the only shots you will see of it because it is not much to look at. I find it funny that this small house had a 50 gallon water heater.

The closet and the bathroom are now two separate spaces. Closet on the right, bathroom on the left.

This is a hole in the wall for a new window. It is covered by a shower curtain to keep the rain out. 

Now it is not covered.

Now it has a new window in it.

I purchased three matching windows at Building Materials Outlet in Eagan, MN. Got a great deal on them! I'm a little behind schedule but am hoping to have it ready for a workshop or class before the holiday.  There will definitely be an open house in November. 

I am looking forward to having a warm, welcoming and dedicated space for teaching art classes.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Abracadabra and Its Gone!

I've been working hard removing materials from the new studio. It has been a lot of work, but I break it up into manageable parts.  When I work in the studio I bring a timer. I only allow myself 45 minutes to work each weekday, 2 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.  And I don't work there every day. I pace myself to make sure that the entire project doesn't consume my life and to make sure I don't hurt myself.  I am getting older and can't haul and demo like I used to.  So I limit myself. If my knee, or any other body part, is feeling funny I don't work. No point in building a studio to teach in if I'm hobbling around while teaching.

The only incident so far was twisting my knee in a hole in the yard. The yard was full of ruts and divets when I purchased it. I filled in most of them early on, but there was one I missed and it was full of leaves, so I didn't notice it.  I was a bit concerned at first when I stepped in it because I have a friend who had just had knee surgery. But I rested my knee and it hasn't bothered me for more than a month.

Here are the latest pictures:

Here, half of the flooring has been removed (closest to us). Why am I removing the flooring, you might ask? The floor had been cut up with several trap doors and temporary covers.  One large opening is to a stairway that goes to the basement (not in the picture, to the right). The other was the former chimney hole (seen in the photo). And I found another in the living room near the bathtub. The interior walls had also been installed at subfloor level and when I removed those there were gaps in the flooring where the walls had been.To patch all these holes would have been difficult and look shoddy.

Here is an image with all the flooring missing. You can now see the trap door by the tub along the far wall. Another reason to replace the flooring is that I will be installing in-floor heating. For that to happen, I need a good smooth surface.  The existing flooring was not adequate.

No need for a tub in an art studio - so it has to go. This was the hardest work so far. The tile walls were very stubborn and a sledgehammer was used repeatedly with traumatic force. Eventually, they succumbed. Originally, I was thinking of putting in a shower stall to replace the tub, but now I am going to put a closet there, instead. 

This image shows the tub completely gone, along with the bathroom door gone and some of the walls missing. The finished bathroom will consist of a toilet and a sink. I am trying to keep most of the existing tile work and will then match the tiles for the rest of the bathroom walls. We'll see how that goes.

I am happy because I have hit rock bottom when it comes to demoing the house. At this point I start to build up the different parts of the studio. It is definitely a corner turned when, at the end of the day, the studio is actually looking better and closer to finished instead of more of a mess. More to come...

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On and On...

I have been working on the new studio for the last couple of weeks. Here are some more photos:

I have been cutting down a lot of weed trees and buckthorn that has been growing along the fence line and around the house. This is less than half the original pile. It took four trips to the compost site... and there is still more to cut down. 

The inside is messy, but coming along. 

This is where the bathroom sink used to be. After doing renovations and repairs on four houses, I've gotten pretty good with a hammer and pry bar. 

 This used to be the kitchen. Well, it never was much of a kitchen, just a sink a a couple of cabinets.

And the end result, all of the debris fitting neatly in a 10 yard dumpster. 

Now to removing the tub and pulling up the flooring.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Controversy at My Latest Exhibit

I know that people are very passionate about their food. Food is a very personal aspect of what we say about ourselves. That is why I paint about food. Edibility, my current exhibit at Reverie Cafe and Bar is a collection of paintings that talk about what we eat and why it is considered food or not food. This can be a simple pun on the word "nuts" to a more complex relationship between cooked food, uncooked food, objects we ingest that are not considered food, and objects that obviously are not food but relate to the food in the painting in some fashion. I figured a restaurant with a vegan menu is a great place to discuss the qualities of food and what we eat.

One of the paintings is of a couple of rainbow trout on a plate, titled Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout

Other paintings, like the one below, include eggshells.

Sinkside Compost #3

One patron complained about the paintings in this manner: "I find some of the art offensive as a vegan, I do not want to eat somewhere that has pictures of fish on a plate, or egg shells, or any dead animal flesh, no matter what the reason, it's unpleasant to look at while eating, especially at a vegan restaurant. I will not be in until the art is taken down." 

Another had this complaint: "Thank you for taking down the fish, but many of your vegan supporters will likely not visit Reverie until the artwork is vegan (no eggshells)."

Another patron had this comment: "The important message is that animals should not be considered food in order to sustain life since that's in fact taking life away, which this artwork does not seem to convey."

I went out of town on vacation for ten days the day after hanging the show and was not immediately aware of the situation.  One of the owners removed the trout painting while defending the overall statement I am making with my art.  I appreciate that gesture, especially without being able to consult with me.

You Are Smart About These Things
Most people who visit Reverie Cafe and Bar are not vegans. I'm sure all the staff and ownership are not vegan. Some patrons don't care about the sourcing of the food and the work done to make sure the menu is vegan. Some just like the location and the taste and the music. But, the owners are passionate about food and have chosen to express that through this restaurant. They do a good job of it. They are also good business people who know a profitable niche when they see one. They also are not judgemental toward any patron because of their chosen diet. Vegans, like the owners and myself, are also passionate about food and its impact on the environment. They understand the negative impact of food choices and work hard to align their practice with their beliefs. If you are a vegan, congratulations, you are not consuming food blindly or willing to kill animals in order to survive.

We Are Merchants of Death
Yes, we do take away an animal's life when we eat it.  We also take away a plant's life when we eat it. When we die, and sometimes before, microscopic animals (or larger) eat us. There is life everywhere. There is death everywhere.  Simply because someone is a vegan, that does not mean they inflict less death - you just eat fewer mammals, birds and fish. If you want to suggest that plants are not as sentient as animals, I would protest that plants are sentient - we simply do not understand plant life as well as we do animal life. More studies are coming out about the sentient nature of plants. Sometimes vegans use their chosen lifestyle to deny the amount of death they are creating. I get that. I don't want to acknowledge the amount of death I create. Every time I drive my car I am adding to the global hell-hole that we are creating.  Every time I pull a weed, kill a weed tree in my yard, or trap a mouse in my house I am denying the power that is Life.  Every time I create or use anything - the mere act of translating raw materials into useful objects - is killing something. We are all merchants of death, even vegans. We cannot run from the death we create.

The Arctic Apple
Is the lack of animal products the only concern of vegans?  The painting Arctic Apple is hanging along the roadside wall of the restaurant. The Arctic Apple is the first FDA approved GMO apple for sale.  I find that painting more insidious and revolting than Rainbow Trout. The insidious part is that we cannot tell, visually, the difference between a GMO apple or a non-GMO apple. People are consuming these apples without knowing they are GMO.  These apples do not brown, so they are often used in situations where sliced apples have to be on display for extended periods of time. More research is coming out about the negative effects of GMO food. But again, you can't tell its a painting of a GMO food product by how it looks, so it doesn't receive complaints. 

Should Art About the Hard Issues of Food be on Display at a Vegan Restaurant?
That ultimately is the question.  Many of these works will be on display at Banfill-Locke Art Center in September where no one will complain about the rainbow trout or the egg shells. Although I hope many do, I doubt most people who visit Reverie dwell on the art work and its deeper meaning. In fact, the people who did complain about the paintings didn't bother to read the Artist's Statement that is posted on the same wall as the offensive pieces. They went to my website to find my statement about this body of work (thanks for visiting my website - I hope you looked at my botanical and landscape paintings and read the illustrated short stories in The Book of Bartholomew many of which are about a young man and his friends trying to figure out their own relationship with food). 

I do not look at food from the lens of a vegan.  If that is the only lens through which you wish to view art at a vegan restaurant, then I am not your artist. Although, I can safely say that many of the egg shells are from free-range and organic chickens raised by a co-worker in her yard.  I do not support or condone the mistreatment of animals and feel that the taking of a life in order for my survival should be acknowledged and not taken for granted - that goes for animals as well as plants. Although I come from a different perspective than a vegan, I am not unaware or precocious about the issues around food. I certainly am not an artist looking for controversy. Compared to the recent Walker dust-up, this ranks about a .001 on a scale of 10.  But I do have a valid and timely message about food to share. If you, as a viewer, are not able to see deeper into the work beyond your veganism, there is little I can do about it. If you are not able to appreciate the pieces that you do not find offensive, again, there is little I can do about it.  Although, I would hope that you are a grounded enough of a person to consider the entire body of work presented instead of being blinded by just a piece or two. In the end, I have a sensibility to share. I do not expect each viewer to share or even appreciate the sensibility that I am sharing. I hope that there are many who do and am happy to engage in discussion with them through my words and my art. I will be at Reverie Cafe and Bar on June 22 from 5pm - 8pm and again on July 25 if people would like to talk about the art and the issues it raises. 

After consulting with me, as a business decision, Reverie has determined to take down the offending pieces. I am fine with that. They are not an art gallery but a restaurant, they must do what they feel is best for their business.

I have learned much through these complaints and value this situation. Should this art be hanging in a vegan restaurant? I say yes. Others say no.  If I had walked out of every coffee shop that hung art that offended me I would be independently wealthy instead of ten pounds overweight.  Reverie Cafe and Bar is a good restaurant with a good staff and I think people should keep supporting it, no matter their thoughts on the art. But, that is for others to decide for themselves.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jack In The Pulpit Studio- Deux: And It Begins

The move has begun!  I have occupied 1022 Burgess for a month now.  The renovations are beginning, but before I share any of that its time to show some "before" pictures. Above is a view from the sidewalk in front of the house. This photo is actually from a couple years ago and the tree growing right next to the house has gotten much bigger and will be coming down to make way for a front porch.

These are all "before" pictures - as in before the construction.  But I will let you know that these were taken after cleaning the house. There was a lot of debris: garbage on the floor, dishes in the sink, and even a full medicine cabinet.

This is a view of the bathroom door from the living room.  Mind you, the house is only 19 feet by 18 feet, so none of these rooms are of much size. The shelving on the right actually houses the end of the bathtub that extends a foot into the living room. The bathroom is so small I couldn't take a picture from inside of it.

The ladder-steps lead to a loft space. You cannot stand up in the loft and it is about big enough for a queen size mattress. The desk was left behind.  Does anyone need a desk?

This is the kitchen. To the left is the back door. It is so small you can't fit a normal appliance, much less two or three.

Here you start getting a view of one of the interesting parts of the house.  The lofted ceiling is covered with tongue in groove boards.  It gives the lofted space a nice homey feeling. I will be opening up the space (i.e. removing walls) so the ceiling is more prominent. 

The back yard where a giant oak tree was cut down last year. You can see the stump to the left.  Lots of weed trees in and around the sheds. No gardens - that will be changing very soon!

Front steps are a bit wonky because some trees grew up under the railing and heaved them to the left. Trees are gone.  Next: remove the roots and straighten out the steps again.

Here are some more weed trees out the back door. All that green is buckthorn seedlings! Yikes! I better get in there. And what abandoned house wouldn't be complete without a stray dog. Oh, wait, that's my sweet Delilah. Pile of bricks in the background will hopefully have enough good ones to create a brick walkway to the front door.

As I make progress there will be updates here at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio, at my blog and on the Facebook Page. Join the fun!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Let 'Em In

I like to listen to music when I am painting.  Lately, I have been enjoying listening to the best of the Beatles after they were done being the Beatles. I have compiled the four "Best of..." cd's of John, Paul, George and Ringo. These four musicians really are amazing. Amazing as individuals, but what strikes me is the consistency of message from the years of being the Beatles. There is the usual stereotyping that John has the heavy political message, Paul sings about love, George is spiritual and Ringo is, well,... just Ringo. But that is not the case when you listen to their music. Even after breaking up, the four of them continued singing about love, community, togetherness, forgiveness, and the positive possibility of what could be.

Yes, I am aging.  I am in my fifties and am a Beatles fan. I am of my era, and I am at a stage in life where I am questioning my experience so far. There is much talk about the Woodstock generation (a little older than me) and a general sense that they "sold out" -  gave up on their idealism as they aged. Some say they did even more, that they undermined their own revolution.

I'm not sure my generation had ideals. We came of age in the disco/cocaine sniffing/clubbing days of the late seventies and early eighties - not that I or most people in the country had that experience.  That apparently was what was happening in all the cultural hotspots on the coasts. Not a world full of ideals - hedonism was the theme of the day. At the time, I was too shy and fearful of life to notice what it all really meant. But I do know that our culture has not had spokespeople like the Beatles since their loss. When I hear current cultural stars talking with a communal perspective it seems canned, groomed to be acceptable instead of being an antithesis to the larger culture (I will acknowledge Ani DeFranco here as being way cool). They are not in-your-face with their entire being. The Beatles started as nice boys wearing suits and singing about love. Eventually, they became these guys who grew their hair long, wore outrageous clothing, talked tongue in cheek about their fame, sang about a backward social order and insisted on having their experience on their own terms. To see them, you could tell they were an antithesis to the larger culture. But this was the pre-glam era, it was a little easier to be noticed for wearing outrageous clothing.

I think about meaning, as an artist. Am I simply making paintings for an audience or am I painting in a manner that reflects and encourages our society? I was given advice many years ago by a painting instructor: landscapes sell. Of course, I refused to paint landscapes. Instead I painted about mass-murderers, riots and missing body parts - in the guise of landscapes. Nothing sold. Hmm.

Then I painted about oppression and the holiness of life. Nothing sold.
Then I talked about "The Land" by making artwork with objects from nature. Nothing sold.
Then I started painting botanicals.  I sold a handful and then nothing.
Then I started painting about food. Nothing sold.
Recently, I've been painting landscapes.  They've been selling. Who knew?

I do not worry if I am "selling out" for making landscapes.  I am painting about the experience I have in nature, in particular in Northern Minnesota. To me, it is related to love.  It is something that touches my soul, like a waking dream - Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé. More than anywhere else, the North is where I have sat back and thought there is no where else in the world I would rather be. There is no time, days are meaningless. Anger is futile - it solves nothing! Love is all around. Not romantic love, although sometimes that is there, but love of all that is. Perhaps it is more aptly described as oneness. There is no contention, no division, no competition. Problems simply become annoyances, annoyances become a puzzle to solve or a fleeting moment to be ignored. Healing outweighs hurt. A broken heart gets to beat uninterrupted. The past is not released, but becomes the foundation on which all the good of the day grows. Breathing, itself, becomes a meditation.

My quest is to hold this perspective in my mind when I am in the City, when I am in the midst of my daily life. My vehicle is my art and the contemplation associated with this task. The Beatles help me hold this perspective with their music and with who they were. The following are excerpts from some of their songs I find particularly helpful. A year long meditation could be done on the first line of John's lyrics below. How would it change your life to come to truly know that "love is the answer and you know that for sure?"

John Lennon - Mind Games
"Love is the answer and you know that for sure.
Yes, is the answer, and you know that for sure.
Yes, is surrender, you gotta let it go."

Ringo Starr - Fading In and Fading Out
"Tell me, why we're here?
All we really need is love
And when I disappear
I pray that I have left enough

Fading in, fading out, isn't that what life's about?
First you're here, then you're gone
Still the world goes on and on."

George Harrison - Isn't It a Pity
Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we're all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can't hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn't it a pity

Paul McCartney - Let 'Em In
"Someone's knockin' at the door
Somebody's ringin' the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let 'em in."

Monday, May 1, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio - April 2017

Since the last Cooking entry, I have completed another painting in my Sinkside Compost Series. I have a container next to my sink for food scraps. I have been making paintings on panels of this container.  This one includes asparagus stems with a blue rubberband around them, egg shells and a very dark banana peel that is hard to detect (left side of painting).

I have been trying to find just the right onion rings for a painting as a companion piece for [Cigs, Twigs and Fries]( I finally found them at a place in Saint Paul that we call [The Nook]( I can't tell you how they taste, as I didn't try them.  But they have just the right visual texture and size for what I envisioned. The painting includes onion rings, uncooked spaghetti noodles and compasses.

The compasses belonged to my father and are part of a set he had from an engineering drafting class he took at the University of Minnesota around 1950. I like that these are part of the painting as my dad was always up for going out to eat. We often ordered onion rings. The painting is 30" x 40" and will be in the upcoming exhibit at Banfille-Locke Art Center.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Finishing Touches - April 2017

A lot is happening these days. Five months ago I started a new job, my paintings are getting better, I will be purchasing the house next door for teaching art, my work has been selling and I am moving in the direction of making merchandise out of my botanical work.

People who have known me a long time know that I can be a very productive person. But I feel recently foundational change has been happening with each new decision. How has this situation come about?

I have a daughter who is attending college in a foreign country. Before she left I always had a track in my brain reserved for her. Whether she was around my house, at her mother's house or somewhere else, there was a part of my brain that constantly cared for her, wondered what she was doing, worried that I might need to act at a moments notice. I still think about her all the time, but that worry track in my brain has been freed up giving me more creative space up in my noggin'. My new job also is much less stressful than my last. I no longer am trying to run five different programs with forty community partners. I now am setting up one program focused on one thing: public art. This has also loosened up creative space in my brain.

Financially, last summer I was able to unload a house that I had inherited in a divorce. Although there was good reason to keep the house all these years since I inherited it, it was a financial drain. But it was time, and because I sold it, I now am able to purchase the house next to me and expand what I really like to do.

I have always been someone who has not focused on himself. I have been happy over the years to be a bit of a caretaker. I have a lot of abilities and have been happy to share and help where I can. But I would also use this as an excuse to not focus on myself. Somewhere in my travels I came to realize that not focusing on myself led me down a road that did not make me happy. Now, of course, I am not going to go super-gonzo on myself and exclude helping others, but I have learned that true happiness cannot happen if you are not fostering yourself -- if you are not creating opportunities to grow into yourself. I have been acting on this new understanding... and seeing a difference.

I do not take all this for granted. I have been around long enough to know that anything can end at a moments notice. I am happy to move forward into my most full self while knowing that one of the fun things about this is that I get to bring my friends, family, students and art fans with me.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jack in the Pulpit Art Studio is Moving!!

Classes at my current studio are coming to an end this month. I will soon be moving classes to the house next door to me at 1022 Burgess Street. This small house will become a teaching art studio. I will be continuing to teach watercolor and oil painting classes, but will also have some friends teaching a class or two. I will be renovating the space this summer and classes will begin again in the fall of 2017.

Students will enjoy this space more as it is dedicated art teaching space, there will be no stairway to climb and there will be a little more room than in my studio. There will be updates, as well as before and after pictures, here at this blog and at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio.

Oil Painting: Granite Face

Granite Face
Oil Paint on Canvas
48" x 48"

This painting is of a face of granite on Mallard Island of Rainy Lake near International Falls, MN. Although, from the island, this bit of water seems open to the great waters that stretch twenty three miles to the east, this area can be calm as there are islands on three sides. I find the rhythm of this lake captures my own personal rhythm and calms me down, simplifies my understanding of life, and brings me internal peace. I try to capture this by heightening the rhythm of the water pattern. Strong geometric shapes across the water's surface bring a sense of strength and calm to the landscape. To me, that is the North.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Upcoming Exhibits

I have a solo exhibition at Reverie Cafe and Bar  in South Minneapolis from **June 1 - July 31**. *Note the date change for this show.

I will be exhibiting work from the Edibility series. There won't be an official opening, but I will be hanging out at the counter at Reverie on Thursday, June 22 and Tuesday, July 25 from 5:00pm - 8:00pm if people want to say "hello" and ask questions.

 In September, I will be in a three person show at Banfill-Locke Art Center in Fridley, MN. More details to come.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio - March 2017

A couple of blog entries ago, you read about the Sinkside Compost series that I have started. Here is a photo of another compost painting I am working on. I am enjoying playing with the placement of the container on the canvas and including the bottles and glasses of which you only see parts.

I have also been working on a large 4' X 4' landscape from northern Minnesota. The challenge of this piece is to incorporate the patterned water ripples with the wilder strokes of the plants and rocks. Water can have very sharp markings, or ripples/waves, when looking at it.  Here I try to create that sharpness while trying to capture the calmness of the water by using sharp geometric shaped markings. I am complimenting this pattern with the black outlines found in the rocks and trees. To me, the North has a patterning and rhythm that is body-related, which helps me to align my self - become more grounded. I hope these paintings feel that way for the viewer.

I am still researching onion rings in order to paint the companion piece to Cigs, Twigs and Fries. Research has been intense and consistent... and may be why my doctor has recommended that I lose weight and exercise more. More on this front as it develops.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Let the Feminine Rise!

"We got this," she responded to the man having trouble determining how best to support progressive issues. The response made me laugh because of its confidence and I thought this is what's needed. Even as an artist, I have never found archetypes to be particular interesting, but I have come to believe over the last several months that two great archetypes our battling it out across our entire planet and life itself is in the balance.

The battle is between the Masculine and the Feminine. The Masculine, with its aggressiveness and desire to control has taken a dominant position over the last seventy years. It has manipulated situations to the point the the Feminine is hard to find. Masculinity, unbridled, will push until it controls everything and bends reality to its own perception.  It will push until its whim becomes the command of thousands.

Weak people, power and money are its tools.  Masculine is smart and will use the greediest and most capable people to lead the others to His stable. His lieutenants use money and power to manipulate masculine people while punishing feminine people. The less capable masculine people live vicariously through their leaders and support the attack against the Feminine, even if it means attacking the ones they love or even themselves.

Masculine creates identity by creating a team.  The team members need testosterone, a reason to be excited and revved up. They are whipped up by Masculine to a point where they are beyond reason, caught up in the rush of Him through their veins. Being beyond reason is a problem in a breakable world. It is like being a bull in a china shop. But, at this point, the bull is not just breaking dishes, he may destroy the shop itself. How can this bull be stopped before its too late?

Telling Masculine's people to be less masculine does not work. They will feel unappreciated because they are being asked to be something other than what they desire to be most - resulting in their pushing even harder to prove that the world does not need the Feminine, that Masculine is all that is needed and all will be right. But, of course, all will not be right for Masculine does not know how to stop, how to assess, how to heal, or how to have compassion.

The only answer that will save this world is that the Feminine must rise.

I wish it was as easy as Wonder Woman swooping in at the last minute to save the day.  But Wonder Woman really is just Masculine in female form. Masculine has dominated the world to the point that He has been defining what is and what is not Feminine in our eyes. We need the true Feminine to rise, to stride onto the scene in Her full glory, healing people of all stripes, healing the planet, having compassion for the weak and even the masculine people

The current talk is that for things to change, for the world to be saved from itself, people need to protest, vote, and call their representatives. Perhaps, more importantly, it is incumbant upon every person to bring forth the Feminine, to clear the way for Her ascendance. This is done through fostering actions of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.  These are not of the world of the Masculine and are the only things that will bind Him.

So, in response to the woman's "we got this," I say "yes, yes you do." As a man I will listen to you and have faith in your ability. I will love you and seek to be at peace with you at all times. I will support you and wait patiently until your goodness shines forth.  Whenever the Feminine arrives, today, tomorrow and in tomorrow's tomorrow, I will blow the horn and announce Her, embrace Her and rejoice in Her so that Masculine will retreat to his rightful position of being in balance with Her. It is the only way we will survive.

Let the Feminine rise!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Upcoming Exhibits

I have a solo exhibition at Reverie Cafe and Bar ] in South Minneapolis from June 1 thru July 31. I will be exhibiting work from the Edibility series. There won't be an official opening, but I will announce a day or two when I will be hanging out at Reverie if people want to say "hello" and ask questions.

In September, I will be in a three person show at Banfill - Locke Art Center in Fridley, MN. More details to come in the next newsletter.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Upcoming Watercolor Class

A Wednesday night watercolor class is ongoing. People can join anytime, but if you like official start dates, the next round of sessions will begin on March 15, 2017. Classes run from 6:30pm - 9:00pm. It is a relaxed non-judgemental environment in which to learn how to paint. Come join us. For more info and to register, go to: Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio.

Big news about art classes at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio coming soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Thoughts on Culture

I have been thinking about two unrelated but synchronistic experiences recently. I read an article  online about the four things white Americans fear about racism. One of these fears is the fear of losing control of the cultural narrative of this country. They believe, until now, the American culture has been defined by white people. With the rise of minority populations and (I am adding this male perspective here) equal rights for women, white men are afraid they will lose control of their own culture, one that has benefited them more than others.

I recently purchased Laatikko/Box, a sound recording by my friend Sara Pajunen. On this recording Sara plays her violin, edits in other sounds and effects and has documented interviews with five or six Finnish immigrants. Sara and I both share a Finnish heritage. This project was highlighted in City Pages. In that interview, Sara stated that one of the things immigrants said they missed the most was their culture. In essence, by emigrating, they lost their culture.

As an artist who spends his time consciously creating culture, these two revelations hit home for me. I find the relationship between one's personal culture and the larger societal culture very interesting. The United States has always been a culture of immigrants with various influences coming in waves from overseas. With each wave, individuals found their own space in which to foster their own personal culture; their set of values, conventions, or social practices.

It seems obvious that, throughout history, one's personal culture was almost a subset of the societal culture - communal shame and influence were so great. But in these anonymous times of 7 billion living people the sheer number of personal cultures have watered down the control mechanisms of societal culture. It has become like news on the internet, you can find a culture that resonates with your personal psyche and claim it no matter whether it is your original culture or not. Or you can create a new culture if you find enough like-minded people. Emo and Goth are examples of this.

Obviously, not all whites fear this loss of cultural control. Many have very little say in the overall cultural narrative as it is. We just bump along and use what we can and leave the rest. As I stated, communal shame has been watered down, so people are more free to choose. My latest thoughts are that those who fear losing control of the cultural narrative are really just afraid of not being able to shame people. That is their trade, as we've seen these last few years. Trading shame and fear is more important to them than any narrative, and we know this because their narrative changes monthly, if not daily.

There are places in this society where people find peace and acceptance instead of confrontation, shame and fear. My goal is that Jack-in-the-Pulpit Art Studio is one of those places and that this is apparent in my work and in my interactions with others. The world will only move forward if we create cultures of acceptance, kindness and love.

Oil Painting - Sinkside Compost #2

Sinkside Compost #2
Oil Paint on Panel
9" x 12"

I have a tupperware container next to my kitchen sink where I place all my food scraps that will end up in my compost pile. As part of my exploration of "edibility" I have found my sinkside compost an interesting subject. It changes weekly and contains food that either once was edible but now is not or it contains that part of food that is inedible; egg shells, potato peels, etc. These compost paintings (I plan on making a series) are painted on a cradled panel that I constructed. They are small and intimate, like food scraps. I will share more as this series develops.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio

I have been starting a couple of Modernist landscapes. I am working from photos I have taken of Rainy Lake and the Review Islands (Crow, Mallard, Gull, Hawk and Fawn Islands). My thoughts about these paintings have been careening from one idea to another as I am discovering what these paintings are about for me.  I often start a series of paintings with a sense that this is the right direction for my work even though I can't explain why.

As I paint I have been pondering this selection of subject matter: landscapes done in a style reminiscent of early to mid-Modernist (1880's - 1930). Why do this? What, for me, is the connection between the style and the subject? The North, the Rainy Lake area, harkens back to an earlier time for me. When I travel to the Review Islands I think of growing up and visiting my grandparents who always lived on a lake. Like the historic buildings on the Review Islands, my grandparents' houses were not filled with the newest technology. Some items in the houses dated back to the 1800's. Having been born in the early 1900's and never having lived in a city of appreciable size, their ways made their home a unique and pleasant visit. For me, early and mid-Modernism handling of the water in these paintings gives me the same feeling of being a kid and watching the patterns on the water for hours at a time and allowing my imagination to become one with the sparkles, ripples and waves. I think of dock spiders and sitting and fishing with my grandfather, I think of hunting for crayfish under rocks in Agate Bay. Even now, on this cold Minnesota night, I can conjure up the feeling of the sun on my shirtless back and neck, the feel of my hand hovering in the warm air and then slipping slowly into the cool water to quietly lay on top of a slimy rock. Then, the slow extraction of the rock to find my prey laying still, as if its hiding place had not been removed, as if it was a rock itself. Finally, the plunge to grab the prize before it squirted away to another rock not that far away - and the process would start again. Memory, like this Modernist technique, is odd in its ability to focus.  Sometimes it takes the complexity and depth of events and packages them into a simple emotional experience of appreciation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oil Painting: Dinner (unfinished)

Dinner (unfinished)
Oil Paint on Canvas
48" x 48"

This large canvas is part of a small grouping of paintings within my larger series called _Edibility_. This small group of large canvases is exploring meals that we eat. _Dinner (unfinished)_ is a completed painting about food that is not processed or prepared to be eaten. What we consider edible is a funny thing.  We have food products that do not nourish the body, we have food products that harm us, and we have food products that are very healthy but you have to process or cook them to make them edible. We have odd cravings when it comes to food.  Perhaps the strongest craving we have for food is a craving for convenience. In order to have something quick, easily accessed, we are willing to eat items that actually are not good for us. We will eat food that can sit on a shelf for months, or even years, and not change its basic structure or freshness. This says a lot about us as a species.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Year Deserves a New Website

I have revamped my website, stripping it down to essentials, and adding simpler navigation. I was visiting a friend's website and thought her work was so well presented, cleanly, simply, that I decided to change it up on my website.  It had been awhile since I'd changed much on the site, so it was due.  I hope you like the new look. You can visit it at Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Was A Good Year!

Mixed Nuts
30" x 40"
Oil Paint on Canvas

2016 was a good year at my studio. I started the year in a group show at the gallery of 801 Washington in Minneapolis. Last winter and into the spring there were fun watercolor classes held at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Studio. From the beginning of the year, right until the end, I have been busy painting - producing 24 paintings this year! I'm also very happy to say that I have been painting bigger, with a few canvases 48" x48" or larger. I sold several pieces, many cards and one hundred and sixty fine art prints. Its been a good year at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Studio. With two shows and probably a studio sale coming in 2017 I am looking ahead with anticipation!