Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blue Man Group- 25 Years of Living in Full Color

What a blast this was! I was notified about a month ago that my artwork won the Blue Man Group's Art Competition. They asked that I not post anything in social media about it until after the unveiling on Wednesday of this week. There was a notable cash prize, as well as a 10 ft x 10 ft blow-up of my artwork on the side of the Blue Man Group's theater in Chicago. And the original hangs in their lobby (photo above). The winning artwork fits their quirky performances that utilize splattered paint and other performance arts. We were told that there were 776 entries in the competition. I'm honored that my painting was one of the six winners!

I saw the Blue Man Group perform many years ago and was struck by their grasp of what makes us human. The large screen behind them, giving instruction, is very clever in pointing out attributes of human nature that we take for granted. It's amazing to me that we are looking at artificial intelligence coming into our lives today with driver-less cars, robotic dogs, drones and even more things are on the way in short order. At the time, I thought that the Blue Men were way ahead of their time...but in hindsight, they were only a few years ahead. The real A.I. is with us already. Personally, I prefer the Blue Man Group!

I made the decision to go to the unveiling of the artwork at the last minute. I was so glad I attended. The Blue Men did a special "art" themed performance for us and then we got to go on top of a double decker bus and get our photos taken with them. If you have a chance to get to Chicago, or to see one of their traveling show, it's worth the time. It will make you think deeply about what it is to be human.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Changing the View

About two years ago, a local children's hospital put out an RFP to several artists concerning their operating rooms. They were getting complaints that the environment was too sterile and frightening to the small patients. When I visited the site, I discovered blank walls devoid of any artwork, and procedure rooms filled with scary looking equipment hanging from the ceiling and surrounding where the patient would be laying. I couldn't imagine would I could do to bring life, distraction and joy into that environment. Some ideas were to hang mobiles from the ceiling. But I kept thinking that there was no way to hide the equipment, so I had to somehow make it ok that it was there.

Eventually, an idea came that submarines had periscopes and lots of equipment in them. And if I painted portals around the room with concerned sea creatures looking in, that it would soon have the appearance of a submarine, and less of an appearance of a scary operating room.

My idea was selected and I am now in the process of completing these rooms for the hospital. What a joy to know that my art will be bringing peace, joy and a pleasant distraction to little ones in discomfort. There can be no higher calling for an artist.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A long time has passed. Nearly two years have gone by since my last entry into this blog. A short list of events tells you why:
• House sold for a loss, gave 1/2 of everything I had away..
• Had no home for several months, lived in a rented art studio and a friend's pool house.
• Father died.
• Established new friendships in a new city.
• Bought a much smaller house (1/3rd the size) on some land far from the city.
• Built an art studio
• Painted 15 murals
• Learned WordPress for building websites and designed 4 sites
• Changed the way I did business
• Published another book (the illustration above is from this book entitled: Life is Wonderful, It could be Verse!, By Art Holst) You can see it on my website at
• Found God again.

Sometimes you have to tear down everything you think you wanted and start over again. Sometimes it's life that does it to you, and sometimes you have to do it yourself. As a writer, painter and singer, these acts of destruction are required quite often. But the ability to do them rests on how stable the rest of your life is. This is the first time in my life that I have "subtracted" from what I was building, making, collecting...amassing. And I have to admit that it was very painful during the process. However, as I got further along, it began to get easier...quite literally lighter. My head was less cluttered with chatter, decisions became easier, goals became clearer.

As the dust from the rubble cleared, it was easy to sweep all the destruction away. Easy to start over, wiser now, more certain of what was needed and what was burdensome. His yoke is easy, his burden is light.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Out of the Depths

Sometimes ideas come and I have to paint them. This painting started a new series I'm calling "Vessels." I'm not really sure what they are, nor do I think it really matters. Some people think this is coral, others ice crystals, others energy or space creatures. I saw it in my mind's eye and had to paint it. The creative process has always been a mystery to me and I try not to examine it too closely. Often I have found that experimentation can open me up to other avenues..and the paintings that I do along the way may not be the destination...but rather the path to it. I am on a path at the moment. Abstraction is not one of my strengths, or even one of my passions...but I am captivated by the patterns that are emerging. Patterns that I recognize are in nature on many levels.

On this bitterly cold and dark January night, I'm emerging from the depths. Slowly.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chasing the Light

As artists, we always seem to be recording things. Sometimes it's difficult to separate real life from the process of recording. As I'm painting a scene, I'm recording what's happening, or what has happened, or what I wish was there. So am I really "in the moment" or chasing a moment that has already passed. While painting "En Plein Air", we call this loop "chasing the light." As light continues to change on the scene, the question always arises: "Do I change the painting to match the current light, or do I try to remember what the light looked like a few moments ago?" If one chooses to change the painting, there is a risk that the painting will never be completed because you will always be "chasing the light." It's a dangerous loop.

Recently, my life has been an exercise in "chasing the light." As each day dawns, I have a list of projects that need completion, but as the sun arches across the sky, the list grows longer. Some items on the list are crossed off, but many more are added and the sun keeps moving. I find there isn't time for me to capture every detail, to finish what I've started before the light is gone. Is this the onset of age? Has time begun to move more quickly, or is it my imagination?

When I am painting in the studio, 6 to 8 hours can go by without notice. Often, with some shock, I realize that it's 4pm. This doesn't happen when I'm painting outdoors. I am more aware of the passage of time and more spontaneous in my reaction to the changing light. Leaving the studio is healthy. When there are deadlines for murals, illustrations or other projects, the temptation to "chase the light" is always present, and it never works. Now and then, one needs to stop, get off the treadmill, and take a walk in the woods.

I took a walk in the woods today and pushed the deadline into tomorrow. No chasing the sun for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Earlier this week I was notified that my design won the Whole Foods Detroit Mural competition. There were close to 100 designs submitted, so this was quite an honor to be selected as one of the four finalists. The murals will appear on the exterior of the building on the north side of Mac just east of Woodward in downtown Detroit. My design is based on health, vitality and community--a true reflection of what is currently happening in Detroit. The city is in the middle of a revitalization and it's exciting to see. I was there during Noel Night this December and was amazed at the crowds, the activity and excitement. It felt young and fresh and I wanted to be a part of it. I am truly honored to have been chosen and look forward to starting this project. Completion will be in early spring. I'll post photos of the dedication ceremony when it occurs. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013--Happy New Year!

2012 was a challenging and innovative year for me. I explored new avenues and venues. Some of them were lucrative, others not so much. I did my first art fair in Scottsdale, Arizona-- that was a bust. Then I did Ann Arbor-- good show for me. Learned a lot. I'll do it again, but differently. I published my first book in July. I've sold 900 so far! That pretty much saved my year. But the most fun I had this year was making and selling my "Ann Arbor Tiny Townie" Ornaments.  They were little hand-painted versions of Ann Arbor's iconic structures. I sold close to 300 of them! On my last evening Christmas Market of the year, a man walked into my booth and announced that he was Jewish. "I don't know what I'm doing at a Christmas Market" he said, "But I have cash money. What can I buy?" I thought for a moment and then directed him towards my ornaments. "A jew buys a Christmas ornament!" He said in jest. "That would be a first!" Then he spotted my Zingerman's ornament and pulled it down from the rack. "This is Zingerman's!" He said with surprise. "You know what!? I'm going to buy an ornament!--Do you tweet?" he asked suddenly, but before I could answer he said."You should tweet that your ornaments are so cool a Jew just bought one!" He pulled out his money and laid it on the table. "I'm a Jew" he said to a woman passing by, "And I'm buying a Christmas ornament! And now I'm going to call a friend of mine and tell him too." he said pulling out his phone. I wrapped his ornament as he told his story to his friend, holding the phone out to us for verbal confirmation. "And now, I think I feel like singing a Christmas Carol." he said turning to me again. "What shall we sing?" I suggested Silver Bells, as that was actually written by a Jewish composer. My friend and I started..."Silver Bells..." He echoed, "I'm a Jew..." we continued "It's Christmas time in the city." He continued singing in tune. "I'm a Jew....I don't know the words." I wish I had it all on video. It would have been wonderful to post it on youtube. It was wonderfully refreshing to be totally socially incorrect and to be able to wish a Jewish man Merry Christmas.

I hope your 2012 was a joyous one and that 2013 will be your best one ever!

Painter and Classical Singer in Michigan

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