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Paintings, December 2006

#7b, December 2006

All paintings are acrylic on paper, 44 x 30 inches
unless otherwise noted.

Scroll down for the paintings, click the images for larger views.


#2, December 2006




#s 6a,b, December 2006.
Title: Marsyas Morning.
(6a is right, 6b is left)

December 23, 2006.
Early morning.

I’ve been thinking about the satyr Marsyas lately, because I have been invited to participate in a panel on altenstyle (old age art) at the 2007 American Psychological Association Conference in San Francisco—and one of Titian’s best known late works is “The Flaying of Marsyas.” Marsyas was a satyr who challenged Apollo to a musical contest, Marsyas on the pan pipes, Apollo on the lyre. Of course Apollo won (one might ask why), and as punishment for Marsyas’ insolent challenge, he tore Marsyas' skin off. Remembering Marsyas, and thinking at my age he and I have a lot in common, I had decided to use Titian's Marsyas in my paper for the conference.

Well, waking this morning with a typical early morning drowsing sensuality,
I thought of myself as Marsyas in the half-light of oncoming dawn.
“Yeah, go Marsyas,” I thought and went nude into the studio to make these in the dawn light.

Standing there nude at the studio table, I made the paintings side by side in less than half an hour (the sun just up when I had finished)
 The paired paintings tell the story—male and female created He them with a sunrise for each.

 The true song of Marsyas is the sunrise in the crotch, the true goal of Marsyas is the sunrise in the sky.



#7b, December 2006.
Morning Diptych, left side.
Wake up early, bitter.
Stay up late, rage.
Anger anger all the days of age and wreck.
But the sequences of colors
and the shapes of dark told me true.

#7a, December 2006
Morning Diptych, right side.
I will not let go. I will not die.
I will still dance upon the sunbeams,
will kiss the petals as they blow. \
Only the fool is antidote to death.




From December Studio Notes...
(an Introduction to a book I plan about my September-December 2006 work.

For artists in these times there are two tests for truth. The marketplace is the first one; the sensibility of the artist is the second. 

The first test is objective and numerical—“How much did you pay for that?” The second test is subjective—the accumulated knowledge, experience and personal values of the particular artist. The artist's sensibility is a language shared among artists (they call it the tradition) and also unique—the particular style of the individual artist. As we know, language is easily falsified, and so in the artist's search for truth, perhaps the most important element is to guard against fraud—fraud in oneself, fraud embedded and hidden in the tradition, and fraud embedded but perhaps also blatant in the language of the artist's contemporaries.

There are times—like these last almost 200 years—when the objective truth of the marketplace and the subjective truth of the artist's sensibility may be at radical variance.  For me, now as an artist, this variance is especially true.  That which from within me calls to speak (or be seen) has no market value and is rather shunned by those who these years set the monetary values for art.  People who spend big money to hang social status on their walls (as Andy Warhol said, "Art is money on the wall"), shy away from images and words whose concern is to end life well rather than display power before friends now.


When I first found "my voice" (as writers sometimes say), it was not a style of painting that was new.  (I used "synthetic Cubism" as a fundamental language) but a subject—the transmutation of youthful polymorphous sensuality into mature husband-father-homesteader-community builder, the transmutation from adolescent into mature man, a subject that was the driving force of thousands of works of which a person  representative of the marketplace truths said, "Your work is almost impossible to sell."  The subject was the source of my sensibility, my truth to it was the test of truth for my sensibility and my life.

That work—about 1955 to 1966—was the base on which most of the work from 1967 to 2000 would make aesthetic variations.  (When you have the foundation set in the darkness of your bedrock, you can build towers of every kind of beauty shining in the daylight.)

Since 2000 or so, though, a new concern has come that is as vital and necessary to my life as was my coming to maturity from youth.  This new subject is old age—a subject which could never be broached before because it was not yet manifest in the bedrock of my life—old age, the closing down of the afternoon of the day so brightly begun so long ago... old age and death.  Old age—as an old friend said to me of his activities a month or so before he died, "Finish it up" (he meant be sure his projects in life had been completed, his papers organized, the bills paid and the receipts filed)...

Death—the unknown void.

And so my work now comes from these concerns, to recollect the past and prepare the future.  As in my path from youth to maturity when my work in art was the image of my work in life, so now in my time to come, may my work in art be the image that tells me how to live and die.


And to the extent that the path old age to death is the road we each must take, it may be that these images of my passage might help others, whatever their language, to find their own way.


And this subject, like the style/tradition in which I work, is neither new nor unique—every human being faces the passage from youth to maturity (however each person solves it).  My only difference was that the issue of personal growth was central to my art and it showed in my work.  I am sure that many other artists have similar core concerns; my only difference from them has been  that I tend to be more blatant.


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