Summer is just around the corner. Back into bathing suites splashing in the river Doon strolling beneath the warm summer moon. Chasing fish with reel and rod no school no homework to spoil the evening calm the terrier from her prison breaks to find her lover deep beneath the rhododendron bush making babies making love.
” There was a lover and his Lass with a hey and a ho and a hey noni no. In the Spring time the one and only ring time. When birds do a sing hey ring a ding a ding true lovers love the Spring “
Part of an old English Ballard.
Artists capture the essence of the truth by seeing themselves as the conduit to the canvass. Children not being taught art just draw and paint the way they feel and we don’t question what they do. Later in life most kids give up art. Some go onto art classes, perhaps drawing that can become very disheartening as not many can draw a hand of foot exactly as it looks. A few go on and pursue the arts and become very successful at it.
In a roundabout way I was lucky not to be sent to art school as my brother was . He is now a painter and does mostly landscapes. I did not start painting until I was 24. With no education I was free to express myself. Here I am in the studio . Nothing realistic about this. Just seeing myself focusing on the truth.
Provincetown looms large in my life. It is were the artistic seed planted deep in my mind as a young boy sprouted at the age of twenty four. It taught me how to express myself. I hooked up with other artists such as Pat De Groote, Mimi Gross, Bob Henry, Bob Thompson, Bob Beauchamp, Red Grooms to mention just a few. I learned from all of them. I met collectors Like Walter Chrysler , Jules Fleishman, and Hudson Walker. All collected my art . That was in the late fifties early sixties. I had no schooling. Hans Hoffman had a school but I could not afford it. The best I could do was sit in and listen to critiques. So I develop my own method of approaching a canvass, surprise it. hooking up with other artists such as Tony and Elspeth Vevers , Red grooms, Bob Thompson I watched as they developed. The galleries were full abstract paintings. The people I met were trying to insert the figure back into painting and they were succeeding in doing so.
So Provincetown is where I bloomed and have deep roots in the place. It has gone through many changes but remains a place I often think back on. Art is the essence of life.
T’was in the merry month of may when green buds were a swelling.
From an old English song. Wont be long now till those words ring true. We will be surrounded by the buzz of bees and the smell of trees. The sap is rising to bring us joy.
In the early seventies I had a chance to live the winters in St. Barths in the French West Indies. I had a house in Maine. For three years I spent the winters in St Barths and the summers in Maine. It was ideal. In Maine I had a big studio and painted every day. In St. Barths painting did not seem to fit. I believe it was because I enjoyed sailing and swimming. I came by a camera and found that more conducive for my need to create. Here I worked with dough. Forming a shape and placing it in the sand then photographing it as it rose. There where plenty of land crabs, they came out at night would . I would capture a dozen or so and set them loose on a patch of white sand that I darkened with soot and have them do a drawing for me. This form represented here was derived from the shapes that the painter Myron Stout used in his work.
Here’s to the women of the world. Their time has come and I am with them all the way especially in politics in this country. There is a large group of democratic women in the democratic party to choose from. The old white group of Republican men are terrified. It is time they leave and let some fresh new blood take over.
Loosing the twin towers was a great shock. I lived at that time in Paulus Hook in Jersey City, a block from the river. We could see the towers from our front steps. Every day it was a pleasure to see them with their beveled edges glinting in the sun light. I had planed to photograph them from our roof for 360 days. They changed their appearance constantly.
On the day it happened known as 9/11 I watched in awe as the first one burned. People able to get across to Jersey City staggered through the streets. We offered what little assistance we could, the three T’s toilet, telephone and tea. People were in shock. The second tower was hit and it was horrible. I had a friend taking photo’s from the Path station. A German tourist asked what had happened. Bill told him a plane had hit the tower. No! the German said, not possible. Bill tried to convince him. The German looking over Bill’s shoulder said ” Oh my God another one”. Bill was furious, this guy had made him miss a shot the second plane.
There where photographers all over the place with very serious equipment. I had a regular camera. Medical responders were showing up from surrounding States. They stood waiting to help. Unfortunately few made it across and the medical teams stood by helplessly. I thought I would record their response if only rescue equipment. I took shots of them parked waiting to help. I have always wanted to make a poster of them and send one to every unit. It’s still on a back burner. It showed the very generous and humanitarian spirit of the American people. They came from all over New Jersey, and Pennsylvania plus other states.
There was a huge parking lot filled with cars. The next day most of them were still there waiting for their owners who would never show up.
The art community at 111 1 St did their bit. Truck loads of donated equipment donated from all over the country was unloaded by them separated and stored ready for use. My Daughter Liza came down from culinary school the CIA to cook.
I have two grand kids. Ruby 13 this week and Oliver 10. Six seven years ago I got to take care of them quite often. I would pick them up from school and take them right back to the studio. They loved the studio. Kids are natural artists – all you have to do is give them materials and they begin to make images. Very free form. One wonders if their creative forces are not destroyed later by art teachers getting them to be more realistic.
As a child the only class I excelled in was art class. It was the only class where a teacher praised me and hung my work prominently. Picasso was taught at a very early age to paint realistically. I think it took the rest of his life undoing it. I had a friend who had a Picasso. A self portrait of himself when he was about 20. Terrific work. His dad bought it back in the early thirties for $1,000. Huge sum of money in those days. He and his wife and children got chassed out of Germany being Jewish. It was one of the few possessions he took with him. My friend showed me holes in the painting from where he and his brother threw darts at it that they later filled with shoe polish. Picasso went on to break new ground in art, much of it coming from African art and his children’s work.
In many ways I feel that not having any art training was a blessing. My work is free and not hung up on how many fingers a hand has. I have learned so much from Picasso and my grand kid. Here I am in my studio with them.
Looking back at old work, thanks to todays technology, one can see the journey they have been on. I have a long past to look back on.
My journey started when I was 24. In reality it may have always been part of my being. I was always a very curious child. I would pull budding plants apart, not to destroy them but to see how they were formed. Made a bad mistake one time. I was evacuated to Ayrshire in 1942 to a lord and lady Weir’s estate on the River Doon . There were thousands of plants I looked at there were so many it hardly made a difference to destroy one or two. One spring on my way home from school I came across a plant with a huge bud. My curiosity got the better of me. I pulled it apart and examined the inside. Very beautiful. Cavornes with multicolored parts. My curiosity satisfied I went home.
That evening Lady Weir and her gardener led a group of people she had invited up for the week-end down a wide grass path to show them her plant the gardener had been nurturing . It bloomed once every seven years. All they got to see was a pile of petals. I can well imagine how she , the gardener and special guests felt about it. There was an inquiry. I denied everything. I got on very well with the gardener. I helped him with his vast fruit and vegetable garden. He would pay me sixpence a week. I think he knew it was me. He and his wife had no children and I believe I filled a vacuum. He never asked me if I did it. He knew I loved plants and was always ready to answer my endless questions about them. He made me a beautiful bow, said it was made of rose wood and was what Robin Hood used. The war was coming to a close. We went back to London. That was 1944. I was twelve. That plant would not flower again until I was nineteen.