Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Sunrise Pelicans

Another photo from my April 16th sunrise photo shoot. I shot about 30 frames of these guys flying about. This is the best one. I wish I could beam all my friends onto the beach with me during one of these sunrise photo shoots!

When it’s over, when I stop shooting, it’s like waking from a dream. I turn to my right and see the yellow flag marking the spot where a turtle has laid her eggs. A senior citizen on her morning walk looks at me a smile on her face, and nodes. A couple walk by hand in hand the surf lapping gently at their feet as the rising sun gains enough strength to feel warm on my face. Regretfully I stand, brush the sand from my legs, and begin the trek up hill to the top of the beach. On the way I pick up a couple of tin cans and plastic cups in order to throw them away in the trashcan next to the beach entrance.

Incredible Cello Duo from Croatia

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Atlantic Sunrise #3

I went to the beach again the other morning and shot several hundred photos. After working in Adobe Photoshop for about 3 hours using layers, and making drastic changes in exposure and color from foreground to background layers, Now I have about ten good photos out of the hundreds. The best thing about digital photography is that you can continue shooting hundreds of photographs without stopping to reload old fashioned film. No worry about film expense! However, the foreground in most of the images is not detailed enough, way too grainy and often the water has a slight double image. I don't understand why grain is a problem. There is no film, so the random pattern of the grain shouldn't be present. But, I have huge color dots present in these photos. So, shutter speed was too slow, as was ISO too low - even though I must have the ISO low in order to keep the shutter speed fast enough to stop the motion of the water. Although I will only use these photos as aids to paint my pastels or as part of the mixed media distressed paintings - both for the “Waterworks,” - I’m disappointed.

Friends tell me that they can set their ISO up really high and still get photos that aren’t grainy. I can’t - I always get the BIG ANNOYING color dots. I’ve tried. I will use the tripod in the future to make sure the camera is completely stabile, but that won't fix the ISO problem. I may experiment with a higher ISO, lower shutter speed causing blurry, smooth "time exposed" water next sunrise photo-shoot. Still, I could use some help here, though perhaps I’m to persnickety. I will post a couple more of these photos from time to time because the color is perfect for my paintings. Never the less, I need some help to make them better as photographs when shooting in the future.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Marie T. Antoinette Party

This is one of those times when my political ideology completely overwhelms my normal art sense. However, please note that the artwork included below is all mine.

YES, the “T” in Marie T. Antoinette stands for “Tea,” and NO, we are not a classless society.

“You have a mind set. and nothing will change it.”

“You’re absolutely right!” I didn’t bother to defend myself, and I will not defend myself. I do have a mind set, and it is set against the willful ignorance that is currently rampant in the United States of America where candidates for public office at the state level talk of secession from the union, and the middle class (the backbone of the country) is threatened with extinction by a willful corporate plutocracy that sees it’s future on foreign soil.

First, about this deficit business – fiscal responsibility is no longer a hallmark of the Republican Party. It hasn’t been for at least the past two decades. . In fact, if it weren’t for the Republican Party there would be no deficit. Yes, this Brobdingnagian deficit is bad. The two wars we are fighting on foreign soil (we’re still in Iraq) have contributed over one trillion dollars to our national debt. The Bush tax breaks to the top 2% of our wealthiest citizens have contributed another 5 trillion. Poor government oversight, and judgment, and a willful Laissez-faire attitude on the part of all parties contributed to the Great Recession that actually started in January 2007, not September of 2008. That disaster has contributed trillions more in lost revenue to the national deficit. Additionally, shipping jobs overseas means we have a smaller poorer working middle class buying less and contributing less revenue to our government, which brings me to my second point.

In order to balance a budget, as any mathematician or ordinary middle class citizen knows, you must work with both sides of the equation; REVENUE EQUALS SPENDING. All accountants must use the equal sign LITERALLY when balancing their books (though often it’s fudged in the business world). When Republicans insist on huge tax cuts and more tax cuts - for rich corporations and the uber wealthy, funding national defense at 59% of the budget while demanding draconian spending cuts to social programs or eradication of those (Medicare, Medicaid and social security) - they are not balancing the budget. They are FUDGING it! Not only will such practices destroy the middle class, the working middle class, the working poor, and the just plain poor, but they will also reduce this country to the status of a third world nation! We will be a nation of THE SUPER RICH AND THE SUPER POOR. We need a budget that is FAIR.

Quite frankly, we are not Taxed Enough Already – none of us, the middle class included. We are being taxed less right now than at any time in the last fifty years. The tax burden in the United States is twentieth in the world! I know that most of us in the middle class would be willing to pay more income tax (create revenue/income) in order to keep Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, PBS, the EPA, public education, Planned Parenthood, and other programs that help us (in some cases to stay alive). But most importantly, balancing a budget is a mathematic formula, and no matter what the Taxed Enough Already folks say, in order for the formula to work, both sides of the equation must be EQUAL!

To give credit where credit is due, some wealthy Americans are saying they don’t need the huge past and proposed future tax giveaways. Never the less that is the corporate plutocracy and Republican Party position. As a Twenty-first century Marie Antoinette might say,” That’s okay, Let them drink beer and die.”

That is quite frankly where we are as a nation. We are on the verge of class warfare.

To avoid such a class war, It will be absolutely necessary to balance the budget – and that means USING THE EQUAL SIGN in the equation with all social and economic classes participating.


A friend of mine posted this to facebook, and I think it is worth repeating in as many places as I possibly can because this current entry is just a bare beginning on how to fix the problems we face.

So what would I like to see happen in the real world? For starters: plug tax loopholes that allow offshore tax shelters for wealthy persons and corporations; stop granting tax incentives to corporations that move jobs off-shore; return Federal income tax brackets to their 1980 levels; eliminate the income cap on Social Security taxes; stop worrying about the deficit until economic recovery is much more firm; allow Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices; vigorously investigate, and prosecute if possible, those who knowingly manipulated the housing and derivatives markets; re-institute strong banking regulations, including a complete separation of investment banks from commercial banks; pour as much support as we can muster into creating new jobs, especially in "green" industries; reaffirm the social contract that says we are all in this together; use tax and subsidy policy to reverse the ever-widening income and wealth gap among our populace. And that is just for starters.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Denis Peterson

His Metamodernist/Hyperrealist Art

Part X: As part of my series of ruminations concerning the possibility of a Post Postmodern Social Realism, I examine Peterson’s oeuvre in relation to the latest in philosophical nomenclature.

The Wall *

Metamodernism as opposed to Post Postmodern (Popomo) is a term brought into play in 2010 by Timotheus Vermeulen, and Robin van den Akker in “Notes on Metamodernism,” in The Journal of Aesthetics and Culture. *2 Their term is the most recent suggestion for the period after the Postmodern. In a nutshell, the term connotes a sort of oscillation between and among the following; Modernism, Postmodernism, the present, past and future, being and not being, practicality and extravagance. It is not about binary opposition, though, ironically, it might be.
Thus, if the modern suggests a temporal ordering, and the postmodern implies a spatial disordering, then the metamodern should be understood as a spacetime that is both-neither ordered and disordered.

Vermeulen and Akker do away with talk of the Popomo being based solely in the fluid know-nothing idiocy of Internet virtuality, though that can certainly be contained in the oscillation. Instead, it opens the possibility to much more complexity. One component is definitely a consideration of the relation between man and his various cultures, instead of the emphasis being placed solely on the mechanics and institutions of those cultures. People exist, and interact with the world around them. The artist himself/herself exists in Metamodernism, and comments on his/her world. One caveat - the artist is removed from, and he knows about that separation as he/she observes himself/herself observing people and the ordered/disordered socio/economic/political spacetimes they inhabit.

Denis Peterson exemplifies this last characteristic of Metamodernism/Popomo, and at the same time his work addresses a sense of loss, pain/angst concerning our position in a culture dominated by corporate America. People are viewed (once again) as individuals, though caught in the overwhelming commodification of everything, some so completely lost, that they are no longer individuals. The images themselves seem to go beyond, past, refer back to photo realism, and photography. I see a connection to Social Realism because it often put a face to it’s own dogma by showing individuals caught in the social/political/cultural juggernaut. Peterson’s work inhabits these concerns.

Van Wagner *

Vortex of Despair *

There is so much more to the relationship between and among Denis Peterson, his artworks, Social Realism of the 20th Century Modern, and the early Twenty-first Century Metamodern. However, I cannot hope to do justice to the complexities in this short piece. I will definitely explore conceptualizing the Metamodern in relation to and among other contemporary artists, and try to place my own work within that context, or not.


*Peterson, Denis, Hyperreal Paintings by Denis Peterson at http://www.denispeterson.com/. Copyright 2010 by Denis Peterson, viewed 10:30 A.M. EDT, Saturday, April 9, 2011. It is understood that one time use of copyrighted images for scholarly publication is within copyright law of the USA.

*2 Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677

*3 Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, Notes on Metamodernism," Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677 (final page)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Diane Arbus:

Social Realist (?)

*1,*2 and *3
Diane Arbus, "Baby Anderson Cooper" and David Alfaro Siqueiros, "Echo of a Scream"

Her work has been described as surreal. I say, maybe. Yes, many of the portraits are of the disenfranchised, some of freakish people, transvestites, the intellectually challenged, incomprehensibly sad people or just plain pathetic people. The oddest portrait of all, baby Anderson Cooper (Yes, that Anderson Cooper), peacefully asleep, beatific Buddha expression on his square features, so incongruous to so much of Arbus’ oeuvre.* It is as though Arbus understood that we are closest to God at birth and death. At the same time, the portrait reminds me of it’s opposite, David Alfaro Siqueiros’ “Echo of a Scream,” because the two baby heads look so much alike, though baby Anderson Cooper is seen straight on, and Siqueiros’ baby head is seen in three-quarter view, mouth wide open, face scrunched into and expression of absolute terror. I can’t help but wonder if Arbus, because of her own temperament, made a mental comparison of the two baby heads. I also find an antecedent to Arbus in the portraiture of American painter Thomas Eakins, because his portraits of late 19th century wealthy and/or middle class people, though less confrontational, most often gaze enigmatically and sadly into an inscrutable distance demonstrating an unfathomable angst so much like many of Arbus’ subjects.


Thomas Eakins, "Susan Macdowell Eakins"

So, why do I think Arbus’ work could be classified as similar to the Social Realism created by the Mexican Muralists, and later American photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange? The Mexican Muralists were all about social injustice and the disenfranchised in Mexico and they wanted to change that. Evans and Walker were all about social injustice and the disenfranchised migrant workers in our own country during the great depression. Arbus, from a crusty Jewish family, didn’t express out loud a desire to make change. However, she did demonstrate a fascination with identity and the disenfranchised in her contemporary culture through her photographs. And it isn’t only the subject matter, it is the choice of stark black and white photography, like Weegee’s street photographs, the use of a 2 and ¼” square format camera that produced stark detail, extreme contrast, often shallow depth of field (through her choice of f stop), and direct frontal contact with the subject(s) who often stare directly out at the viewer. Through her subjects and technique she expresses a desire to confront the viewer directly with a deeply felt sense of isolation based in her protracted episodes of depression. Through her eyes, ordinary middle class families are seen as the other, an understanding this author views as a contemporary political reality.


Diane Arbus, "Transvestite at Drag Ball, NYC", 1970

Diane Arbus, "Middle Class Brooklyn Family on a Sunday Outing", 1966

Bringing My Own life Experience to the Subject

Personally, in 1965 I was criticized by my photography instructor at the Museum College of Art (now the University of the Arts) for making photographs of people in a similar vein to Arbus. At the time, the instructor knew Arbus’ work. I did not. Looking back, I realize that I was an intellectual pigmy, and my instructor used that against me instead of opening the door to Arbus’ amazing oeuvre. Through her work, Arbus would have surely given entrance into a visual gallery of greater self-knowledge for yours truly.


*1 Photographs are From Diane Arbus Photography on the Web, http://diane-arbus-photography.com/. Viewed 10:00 A.M. EDT, Tuesday, April 5, 2011. It is known that one time documented use of copyrighted images for scholarly purpose, as in this journal entry, is legal use.

*2 Siqueiros, David Alfaro, "Echo of a Scream" from Threedonia.com, http://www.threedonia.com/archives/11707, Viewed 10:12 A.M., EDT, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. It is known that one time documented use of copyrighted images for scholarly purpose, as in this journal entry, is legal use.

*3 The juxtaposition of these two works of art is in no way meant to be a comment on the person, character or origin of Anderson Cooper whom the author genuinely admires because of his work as journalist, author, and Television News personality for CNN network. The comparison is meant solely as intellectual exercise for the comparison of two artworks and has nothing to do with any association any viewer might possibly make other than that intended by the author.

*4 Eakins, Thomas, "Susan Macdowell Eakins," bestpriceart.com. Viewed 10:32 A.M., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. It is known that one time documented use of copyrighted images for scholarly purpose, as in this journal entry, is legal use.

*5 Arbus, Diane, "Transvestite at Drag Ball, NYC" 1970. At Elaine's *T Art Journal, http://elainearmen.blogspot.com/2009/02/photographs-by-diane-arbus.htmlViewed 11:33 A.M., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. It is known that one time documented use of copyrighted images for scholarly purpose, as in this journal entry, is legal use.

*6 Arbus, Diane, "Young Brooklyn Family on a Sunday Outing" (1966) "Diane Arbus Revelations," At Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, June 17 to September 10, 2006, http://visualarts.walkerart.org/detail.wac?id=2683&title=Current%20Exhibitions. Viewed 11:50 AM EDT, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. It is known that one time documented use of copyrighted images for scholarly purpose, as in this journal entry, is legal use.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Atlantic Ocean:

Clean, Clear, Safe Water

The “Waterworks” is about saving the environment for our own use, and for future generations. As part of the process of working on six new “Waterworks” yesterday I hunted for more images to use in those mixed media distressed and pastel paintings. I found this image taken last July 2010 in south Florida. The crystal clear water sparkles in the brilliant early summer sun just as God intended. At the time the Deepwater Horizon Disaster threatened all of the Gulf Coast and Florida. There were predictions that the mess would be caught in the Gulf Stream and come right around the entire coast of Florida. I wondered if I would return to this beach in the fall and find dead fish, porpoises, turtles and water foul. It was a nightmare vision that was all too possible.

Our government has since ended the moratorium on deep water drilling and seven new drilling permits have been granted during the past several weeks. As Isaac Stolzfuts used to say, “the oil oligarchy speaks.” I know that we must have oil because we are addicted to extreme amounts of energy, and our habit is overwhelming. Without energy, our addicted culture would shrivel and die. However, we are not dedicating ourselves to investing resources in new and cleaner sources in the amount we should be. The Chinese have dedicated 10% of their budged to clean energy – TEN PERCENT! Instead, we are busy cutting our budget (reads the working middle class, and the poor are getting [BLEEPED]) at a time when our economy needs to be stimulated, not shrunk. Think what ten percent of the nations budget invested in clean energy would do to stimulate the economy – JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

We need a “Clean Labor & Energy National Party (CLEAN)”, a very outspoken political party, something like the Tea Party that will force our nation to move in a corrected path toward clean energy independence.