On Writing “The Mountain” — Before and After

July 22, 2018

IT CAME UP over lunch one day sometime in 2005 while the artist Jack Levine and I were sitting in his favorite restaurant in Greenwich Village, NYC. As usual, our discussion was focused on art, and as we chatted, Emile Zola’s name came up and we began discussing his The Masterpiece, which is purported to be centered on the life of his friend, Paul Cezanne. I asked Jack if he knew of any similar book in America that had traced the evolution of an artist. He said that he had read books that had artists in them as ‘characters’ but never one that had traced the life and development of one.

Thinking about it on my way back home upstate, I reflected on my profiling of artists for local newspapers since the early ‘80s and then full-time when Cornelia and I founded ART TIMES in 1984 (including Jack Levine in our Nov. 1985 Issue) and how much I had absorbed about the struggle of being an artist from them as I spent hours in their studios over the years. As a matter of fact, during that time I was beginning to sympathize and even identify with my ever-growing list of artist friends. I had been writing since my ‘30s, got my MA while majoring in English Lit and Composition at SUNY, New Paltz, then taught grammar and composition at the junior, high school, and college levels. I had just been putting the finishing touches on my writing studio (my “man-cave”), and establishing myself as a published writer by (as I note above) writing profiles and art reviews for local newspapers. Both writing and painting loomed large in my life during those years.

During these early ‘80s (I was in my late ‘50s) I found my writing studio slowly morphing into an artist studio — irrevocably clinched when I bought a large, second-hand easel and set it up next to my (happily located) picture window on the north wall of my study. Although art always interested me — I could draw and reproduce in pencil what I saw while still a pre-schooler and even drew caricatures for my buddies while in the Army and created a comic strip for our Company ‘newspaper’ while stationed in the Arctic, but I had never painted nor received instruction in painting. Hearing the stories of professional artists fascinated me — whetting my appetite to just “try it!” I was even further encouraged to “try it” when almost every artist I respected advised me not to take lessons (and learn someone else’s ‘mistakes’) but to just go out and “play”. Gradually, I became conflicted — did I want to be a painter or a writer? I was still writing, but being pulled more and more to try my hand at painting. Because I am — and have been essentially a “hermit” and a lover of nature — I found that landscape painting was my biggest “draw” to “get out there and try it”. Living on a two-acre plot surrounded by woodland on an isolated dead-end road in a town called “High Woods”, if ideal for a writer, became equally tempting to a would-be painter.

Then, sometime in the late ‘80s, I was asked and commissioned by Director Rosina Florio to write a “history” of the Art Students League of New York. She wanted an “anecdotal” and not a “dry as dust history” and sent out the word to past and present students and teachers to aid me in the task. Consequently, many contacted me, both by letter and by person, and I soon had more than enough to construct an “anecdotal history.” Among the many I heard from or spoke to, was a family of father, mother and daughter who had all attended the League, namely Elijah Silverman, his wife Ruth, and his daughter Susan. We had decided to meet at the home of Elijah’s daughter, Susan Silverman Fink, since Elijah and Ruth lived in Brooklyn and Susan, upstate in Cornwall, NY — a convenient middle-ground for all of us. We spent several hours in Susan’s home and, while there chatting about the League, I noted the walls of the home were covered with paintings, most of them of Susan’s landscapes (with a few of her parents’ scattered around). I was taken by Susan’s plein aire paintings, and a few days after our interview I called Susan to ask her if I could accompany her sometimes when she went out to paint. “I’m not a teacher,” she said, and I replied, “Great!” — telling her about all the artists I appreciated that told me not to take lessons.

Soon, Susan became “Sue” and we could often be found in the mountain-surrounded fields and along the Hudson River banks of Orange (where she lived), Ulster (where I lived), and nearby Greene Counties, Julian easels planted side-by-side. She painted and I watched the magic of mixing oils and making marks on a flat surface…but the most important thing Sue taught me was how to look: to see colors hidden in shades of dark and light and, more importantly, the ultimate illusory quality of nature — so, dip into a blob of paint and schmear. I did and learned how to get out and “play” and follow my instincts. I never really learned how to use brushes very well and leaned heavily on wielding the knife. It allowed me less fussiness and more spontaneity and, since I was squeezing in my ‘painting days’ between writing assignments, made clean-up easy: just wipe the palette knives off with a paper towel, toss them into the handy drawer of my outdoor easel and get back to my writing. Generally, what was on my canvas remained as it was when I wiped my knives.

As Sue deepened and made into tangible reality the stories I was still hearing from my interviews with artists (almost exclusively in their studios because it sharpened my insights into the lives and habits of my Profile subjects — artist’s studios, by the way, ‘speak’ volumes!), the conflict intensified. Writer or Painter? Through which medium could I best express myself? Which ‘spoke” more clearly for me? So, when I was in my late ‘60s, I began putting my dilemma on paper by putting it into ‘story’ form. I titled it In the Beginning and in an attempt to clarify my predicament, first made my setting local and ‘split’ myself into two characters that ‘acted’ out the argument going on in my head— one, an ‘artwriter’ named “Geoff”, the other a budding painter, un-named. In short, I was vaguely rebounding from my conversation with Jack Levine the year before and trying to put the ‘evolution’ of an artist in the form of a fictional tale — my tale. Because the characters were, in essence, both me, the ‘fiction’ I was attempting to create tended to be more ‘biography’ than a simple, narrative tale. Although In the Beginning grew into considerable length, I was beginning to feel that it was becoming too much of a memoir rather than a ‘story’, so I put it aside and went on to other things, pretty much forgetting about it altogether.

I came across the mss. recently and, not even recognizing it (I’ve got several unpublished short stories and even a novel or two hidden away and out of mind in file drawers) began to skim it. After some way in, I began to realize that In the Beginning was actually the forerunner (or rough draft) of my full-length novel The Mountain, published in 2008. I do have two characters in the full-length novel, both having shared characteristics with me, but whose ‘lives’ are unrelated to the actual facts of my own life. “Jake Forscher”, the ‘main’ character — or protagonist — though his father echoes mine, as do shared incidents such as coming from Brooklyn and moving upstate, being a handy-man, working on the river — was ‘built’ out of a number of sources. Although I ‘personalized’ The Mountain it in no way depicts, portrays or traces the course of my life. “Jake” does not go to college and earn degrees, teach at the public school and college levels, co-found an arts journal — all significant high-points of my life.

First, the plot of The Mountain itself, though concocted out of the nascent conversation with Jack Levine, was created in accordance with my university training, to serve as a “bildungsroman” (the literary term for a ‘coming of age’ or character evolution type of novel). “Jake”, in addition to ‘growing out” of my own experiences (else how make it “believable’?), had his ‘conflict’ patterned after a novel I studied extensively — even writing a paper on it while working on my Master’s, which received considerable attention from my Professors — namely Moby Dick by Herman Melville. “Jake”, like “Captain Ahab”, is given an insurmountable task (both expressed symbolically in the respective novels): “Ahab’s” was to capture the whale; “Jake’s” to ‘capture’ (in paint) “Overlook Mountain”. “Jake”, like “Ahab”, fails in the purpose that both Melville and I symbolically present to our protagonists: namely, to discover the purpose and mystery of life. My novel The Mountain is meant to serve as the “why” Jake fails (Nature is constantly in flux, i.e. ‘un-capturable’ in paint or otherwise); Melville attempts the same in his Moby Dick; in the end, the ‘whale’ is still illusive and ‘blank’ (ie. ‘White’, ‘colorless’, ‘empty’). Consequently, I named my protagonist “Jacob (‘Jake’) because he struggles with the angel and “Forscher” Ger. because he is a delver, a seeker. In the unfolding of “Jake’s” life, I drew on the countless stories of the artists who shared their struggles with me — “Jake’s” life, in essence, embodies those similar but disparate struggles. As I note above, there is another character in the novel who ‘echoes’ me, “David Lehrer” (“Lehrer” Ger.) means “teacher”, but he does not “come into” the story ‘til late in the book), an art critic who befriends “Jake” and encourages him in his quest to become a painter — specifically, a landscape painter.

As the “push-pull” of my conflict developed, I was at the same time beginning to define my own concept of what “art” was. I had interviewed many of the early “Woodstock” cadres of traditionalists and, of course, found that although they may have all struggled in their quest for artistic expression, not all seemed to have the same goal in mind. This fact grew even more evident as I expanded my search for subjects beyond the Woodstock area, ranging first to “the City” (New York) and then to neighboring states — and even to countries abroad. I dealt with this ‘new’ dilemma in my novel by opening my protagonist’s story at the “Armory Show” in Manhattan at the groundbreaking “modernist show” and then by his bringing back his impressions to the somewhat closed parameters of the Woodstock Colony. The new European anti-traditional artforms and subjects were not exactly ‘foreign’ to all Woodstock artists, and as I demonstrate in my plot clashes between the “old and the new” were just one more part of Jake Forscher’s experience on the Woodstock scene.

A classicist — and conservative — myself, I began forming my own biases, and when we founded ART TIMES I made it clear to my readers that I intended to take the “long view” (not necessarily a “broad” view) in my editorial scope, leaving the ever-growing trends, “-isms” and “hot” fads to the other arts magazines on the present artscene. I felt — and continue to feel — that “art” has a purpose other than serving as an “investment” commodity, a theme that defines much of The Mountain’s “message” or “moral”. I was strengthened in my point of view as we noted many “what’s hot” publications drop out of business as Art Times continued to flourish. It was evident that what was considered “hot” this week became “old hat” the following week — so the promoters, like the fad, quickly went out of fashion, their “slicks” constantly disappearing from the shelves. My bias still runs strong and deep and I continue to avoid writing about so-called “modernist” artists and their exhibitions until this day. Incidentally, all artists of today, traditional or not, are “moderns” simply by virtue of being alive now. Just because the market changes does not necessarily mean that values must change as well. I tend to agree with Oscar Wilde in his assessment that many do not know the difference between ‘cost’ and ‘value’ and his opinion that “America went from primitivism to barbarism, without ever passing through civilization” not so far off the mark.

Although my bias that art had a greater purpose — that, as Bernard Berenson claimed, it ought to “enhance” life — led my art criticism to focus primarily on the classical tradition at the expense of disregarding much of “modernism”, on a deeper, more psychological level, I discovered that my question of which medium “spoke” more clearly for me — namely, writing or painting — had been somewhat off the mark. The fact is that a simple dichotomy of “writer vs. painter” did not fully encompass my life. Long before I turned to writing (or painting) I had spent a good deal of my life exploring various “spiritual” paths (beginning with Christianity, and then on through Buddhist, Hindu and Judaist ‘disciplines’), developing a habit of deep meditation that began in my ‘30s and continues until this day.

Interestingly, In the Beginning begins in “religion” with a detailed description of the Renaissance-like parochial church (the tallest building in Brooklyn in the ‘30s) I attended as a child and describes my early experience of being indoctrinated into Roman Catholicism. Never having taken art classes (not taught during my schooling) I often thought of where my interest in art came from and wondered if it originated in the surroundings of that renaissance-like church; might it have served as a possible ‘motive’ for the basis of my interest in art later in life? Whereas my writing depended on logic and rationality, my painting of landscape seemed to stem from inner inspirations and promptings. Consequently, I slowly began to realize that both mediums allowed me to express myself — but not in the manner I expected. My writing allowed me to articulate my rational being, while my image-making served as an outlet for my spiritual development. For me, painting landscape became just one more form of “meditation.”

The net result — not reflected in my novel The Mountain — was that I needed to find room in my life for both forms of expression — a state of affairs that continues to guide my life ‘til this day. It’s no longer “writer vs. painter” — I am pretty much resolved that I am first and foremost a writer, and I feel comfortable telling people that I am “a writer who paints.” Leaving aside my feeling of once being “conflicted”, to my surprise, painting in plein aire opened not only an entirely unforeseen means for me to express (and explore) myself, but also served to form my critical approach to the purpose of making or creating of art — definitively hardening my bias against ‘meaningless’ art since I was finding it personally useless and invalid. During this time, the word “inspiration” began to take on a serious quality for me, especially as I delved more deeply into the thinking of Renaissance artists and their use of the term “divine inspiration.” By itself, “inspiration” literally means “breathing into” — “divine” inspiration therefore meant to the Renaissance artist, “inspired by God.” Somehow, my own personal experience of painting from Nature seemed not only to clarify the Renaissance concept of “divine inspiration” but also to confirm it. To this day, although I’ve been painting landscapes for some years now — even participating in exhibitions — what “appears” on my canvas continues to be inexplicable, not something that “comes” from “in here” but from “out there”. Is it really my painting? I cannot say with certainty that it is I who is guiding my hand. I’m still trying to figure out what I am seeing when I “see” Nature. Viewers of my paintings tell me they see “beauty” or “peace” or serenity” and all I can answer is “well all I’m doing is copying what’s in front of me”. Where, then, does credit lie? Simply because a natural phenomenon — a tree, a vista, a mountain — is “inscrutable”, “ineffable”, ‘indefinable’, an ‘illusion’ to a human being, it does not necessarily follow that it is “untrue”. Few indeed, know what “truth” is — in fact, even what “art” is, as is evident in our inability to define it. One prominent art critic, Arthur Danto, even claimed that art was “dead!” Little wonder that bias and opinion reign, when there is nothing ‘scientific’ at hand to ‘prove’ one’s point on the subject.

Since my traveling had been sharply curtailed in recent years, Jack Levine (now deceased) and I never had the opportunity to discuss The Mountain since its publication. Whatever personal avenues of self-knowledge it has opened for me, it is my hope that it still measures up to our expectations that day over lunch.

*The Mountain

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There is Still Hope

January 7, 2018

In spite of the severe downward turn in our culture — especially evident in our “modern” tastes in art — it is still my privilege to continue meeting artists who refuse to follow the latest trend in ‘isms’ and carry on the struggle with those elusive and inscrutable Muses that guide the hand in producing, not commodities, but genuine “art” that enhances life. (What an idea! Buying and/or collecting ’’art” for enhancement rather than investment!)

I know I use terms that several of my readers deem pompous and I must admit that many of my ideas come from extensive traveling and reading; I’m the product of lower-class, poverty-threatened folks from Brooklyn and my “culture” was largely gleaned from the streets of our neighborhood and, later (at the age of 12) on a dead-end road in the woodlands of the Catskills. Trips to museums, libraries, etc. were never on my parent’s calendar, nor were books a part of our lifestyle. Art was not on the curriculum of any of the schools I attended, so I had a great deal to learn. My first “awakening” occurred when I was drafted into the US Military and discovered that not all people were raised as I was raised or learned what I learned. Stationed a full year in Germany, and all I ever visited were popular beer halls! Later, and still in the Service, I discovered a library on the Canadian base up in the arctic (Fort Churchill) that I was assigned to for one year. As we were “guests” of the Canadian Air Force, we were closely monitored — so no alcohol (or women) — ergo, plenty of time for the well-stocked library available to all of us on “isolated duty.” Never having been much of a library-goer, it took me some time to learn my way around. Previously an occasional “Mickey Spillane” follower (when and if I picked up a book), I had no idea what treasures awaited me once I got used to turning pages. Having 365 “isolated duty” days on the tundra sans alcohol and women looking me in my oft frost-bitten face left me literally little choice — but once started, I voraciously ‘ate’ my way through, first the art history section, quickly followed by ancient history, world literature and philosophy.

Although rather haphazardly read at the time (I thought that Plato and Dostoevsky were contemporaries), all would be organized, expanded and clarified when I finally started college in my early 30s, concentrating on those very fields of study and finally receiving my B.A and M.A. in Liberal Arts. I taught English in Public School and a short stint at College over a period of about 14 years, then co-founded ART TIMES with my partner, Cornelia Seckel, putting my full concentration on art — writing Artist Profiles, and either reviews or critiques of art exhibitions. Although I never ‘took’ an art class, I was drawn to the subject since the only “talent” that survived my Brooklyn upbringing was being able to draw, sketching on the living-room floor long before I started school. So, already familiar with pen and pencil, after absorbing some art history I was drawn to learning about other mediums and the creators behind the work; hence ART TIMES and my profiling of artists. Living near Woodstock, New York, I had a veritable plethora of artists nearby to visit and started writing about artists some years before we founded ART TIMES in 1984, freelancing my work to various local newspapers and eventually, with ART TIMES as a base, broadening my scope to profile over 200 artists from the U.S. as well as from abroad — Germany, Italy, China, and so on. Supplemented by my critiques, reviews, traveling, lecturing and further reading, yes it is probably true that I sometimes come across as “pompous.” And yes, I am “set in my ways” — or passé, to many “modernists” — still quoting Bernard Berenson (as above) and his theory of “life enhancing” art, still inclined to agree with Oscar Wilde and his claim that America went from Primitivism to Barbarism without having passed through “Civilization.”

Yet, the real truth is that in spite of my last 40 years dabbling in “art”, the only inconvertible ‘truth’ I have discovered is that opinion rules and that no one has yet discovered an authoritative definition of “art” — me included since my “knowledge” is only based on endless page-turning and tramping around the world. Some, in fact, have even declared that “art” is dead! Not even my picking up of brush and palette knife some 20 years ago to paint landscapes, all I am “sure” of is that I try to “reproduce” three-dimensional Nature on a two-dimensional flat surface. So the “pomposity” is probably nothing more than a smoke-screen trying to obscure my ignorance. All that said, however, does not nullify my opening remarks, namely that I still have the privilege of meeting “artists” — who, more often than not, are struggling to come up with their own definition of what it is that they are doing — (I try to avoid the glib ones, who sound too much like salesmen and bloviating agents. Art, already a communicative language in and of itself, is largely un-translatable and meant to ‘speak’ for itself (humans were making pictures on walls long before they made words and sentences). In the opinion of Edgar Degas, literature ((i.e. words)) only did “harm” to art, and readily agreed with his friend, the writer Jules Renard, who wrote, “When I am in front of a picture, it speaks better than I do.”* So, to all of you still fighting the good fight, I urge you to continue ignoring all the gobbledygook. I wish you warm and pleasant Holidays and a continuing success in your struggle — you have certainly enriched (and enhanced) my life for a long, long time.

 *Cf. Julian Barnes “Humph, He, Ha”, London Review of Times, Vol. 40, No. 1., Jan 4 2018.


Blog # 12 Rome, Beijing, Cologne, Swindon Wiltshire – England

October 18, 2017

Originally intended as a small book, “Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011″, I should like to share it with my readers in a more informal manner as a series of Blogs. 

Italy: Rome: Standing in the center of St. Peter’s, I have, perhaps for the first time, an inkling of eternity.

China: Beijing, Tianlun Dynasty Hotel, 50 Wangfujing Ave.: From my room in this luxurious hotel, I look down many floors below to where construction on the street is taking place. Workmen in what appear to be dress black suits, sockless and in tennis shoes, handling jackhammers, shoveling dirt. I am told that every day many thousands come from the provinces to work in the city. Where are the hard hats? The work boots? From the same window, I look down into a nearby hu tong. A different world! Hard to reconcile my hotel room with such squalor and cramped living quarters. I am told that many of these community compounds have been destroyed to make way for new prosperity. A way of life perhaps best gone. But how do they feel?

img_8321Germany: Cologne: During dinner at the Jarczyk’s, Heinz asked me if I liked opera. He was amazed when I told him that I had never been to one. He immediately rose from the table and went to the phone; I understood enough German to know he was asking about what was on and getting tickets for the four of us. That weekend, I saw Carmen at the Köln Opera Haus: a story about a Spanish woman written by a Frenchman with German “sub-titles” moving across the bottom of the stage. (At one point I had to smile at the running translation when, at the point Carmen is ridiculing Don Carlos for attending to duty rather than running into the mountains with her, it incongruously read “Don Carlos, du bist ein Dummkopf!”). At intermission, sharing champagne, I said to Heinz that I was still trying to get it together that here I was, a kid from Brooklyn, attending an opera in such plush surroundings. When we returned to our seats, he handed me the playbill with his finger indicating where I should look. There I read that the actor playing Don Carlos was from Brooklyn, and that the second female role was played by a young woman from Staten Island!

Magic-Roundabout-AAIR_Devizes-002-6c7tt0ub1i8rt8hbwfk5l9lpy827ey9q6904ptvngji

England: Swindon Wiltshire: Came upon a “round-about” (traffic circle) that was a maze of entries and exits, so many that we circumnavigated it several times before we finally got off — of course, it was the wrong one. Told later that Swindon was the town where the roundabout inventor was born! I wonder if they ran him off!


Raymond J. Steiner owns up

October 7, 2017

ALTHOUGH IN RECENT issues of ART TIMES I’ve not contributed much in the way of profiles, reviews, or critiques on the current art scene, “art” is seldom far from my thoughts and interests in what’s ‘going on’ out there. I see the announcements, daily receive press releases and, though I avoid the telephone, my Publisher and Partner Cornelia Seckel keeps me apprised of the more than many phone calls from galleries and art-reps who advise me “you gotta see this show!” Truth is, I frankly don’t see or hear about many exhibits that I oughtta see. It’s true that my health and stamina are on the decline and I rarely travel other than to present myself to the growing list of MDs that I oughtta see, the market — and I emphasize the work market—rarely entices me to take up my time to travel there to browse their wares. Too many modern ‘isms’, trends, ‘hot’ exhibits, and such on the present art-scene leave me aesthetically, intellectually and spiritually cold and totally uninterested at the core. Don’t get me wrong—I know there are good artists out there (I know many of them and try to keep in touch), but the hyper-bloviating successfully keeps them in the dark and drowning in the deafening noise of ‘what’s new!” Those of you who’ve followed me through our 30+ years of publishing know my feelings about the deluge of political-based, gender-based, race-based, self-expressionist-based—the whole range of “ism”-based—‘art’ that has overwhelmed plain, old art-based art. I have always believed that art ought to be life-enhancing and not a mere political tool. Artwriters no longer dare to even define what ‘art’ is. Pundits such as Danto have already pro-claimed that ‘art’ is dead. So my dear artist-friends who still attempt to put heart, spirit, and meaning into your work, don’t stop fighting the good fight. History moves on…it always does…and genuine appreciation of culture will come back, and maybe I can’t travel much anymore and you’ve been left in the dark, but if not you than your work will see the future.

 

By Raymond J. Steiner


Taking Stock

March 12, 2017
Cornelia Seckel in July of 1984 laying out Vol. 1 No. 1 of ART TIMES. The porch windows served as a light board.

Cornelia Seckel in July of 1984 laying out Vol. 1 No. 1 of ART TIMES. The porch windows served as a light board

Although, when Cornelia and I co-founded ART times back in 1984, we did not set ourselves up as a not-for-profit entity, we soon discovered that de facto, regardless of our intent, it would indeed be a not-for-profit enterprise. For the 30-odd years we’ve been in ‘business’, beyond keeping ‘afloat’ and meeting our basic needs, our income over expenses has been extremely modest. Lately, however, we’ve ended up “in the hole” (as, in fact, a great many publications and newspapers have been failing for the same reason in recent years), not covering our expenses for some time, periodically supplementing ART TIMES with loans from our modest savings when necessary to meet our obligations.

More than once over the years — and especially during the last few — we’ve been asked why we stay in business. We look at each other, at the questioners, and mostly just shrug. But, Yes! Why do we continue? Our answer sounds a little corny — even silly, perhaps — but to put it into one word, the answer always was and remains: altruism. The word, derived from the Latin alter, meaning “other” (cf. e.g. ‘alternate’, ‘alternative’, ‘alter ego’, etc.) was perhaps not in our minds at the time, but the truth of the matter is that neither of us were typical “businesspeople” — Cornelia was a teacher, counselor, and networker while I was a teacher, poet, and essayist. So “making money” — beyond a “living” — was not foremost in our thinking/planning/creating an ‘arts journal’. Our primary goal was to create a forum for the arts, specifically a publication that would further, bolster, promote and broadcast the cultural riches of our region — a project that Cornelia would physically “make happen” and that I would edit and contribute to. After putting together a mock-up to “float” out into the world in the early summer of 1984, Voila! Volume 1, No. 1 of ART TIMES came “hot off the press” in August. We did it! The “artworld” was pleased and readily supported its production from the outset. Our resultant travels to art exhibitions, conferences, lectures, museums and culture venues across not only America, but to Europe and Asia as well, became business expenses that not only contributed to the success of ART times but greatly enriched our (and our readers’) lives. We saw places and met people that we most likely would have never experienced if not for our creation of ART TIMES.

However, as ‘enriched’ as we felt culturally by being able to support our travels, we never thought of including a regular weekly “salary” for either one of us, content to get along on covering the basics of every-day living.

Cornelia Seckel and Raymond J. Steiner. A toast as the last ink on paper issue of ART TIMES is done.

Cornelia Seckel and Raymond J. Steiner. A toast as the last ink on paper issue of ART TIMES is ready to go to the printer.

Altruism, although admirable…even desirable…is, however, not quite cutting it lately. Our resources have been rapidly dwindling, and in the Summer of 2016, in an effort to “stop the bleeding” we moved from publishing in print to a digital-only presence; by doing so we not only eliminated our major costs of printing and shipping, but the move also resulted in our getting our advertisers out to a global audience.

Still, perhaps a little bit of ‘business sense’ would have been helpful back then when we sort of rashly took the plunge. Thankfully, our readers and supporters have rapidly responded to our situation and we are so grateful both for their encouraging words and advertising dollars. Any guesses of what’s on the horizon?


Global Warming

February 14, 2017

OK­­­, THEY’VE BEEN back ‘n forthing for some time now about this “global warming” stuff with no indication that they’ll ever reach agreement. Does this cause it? Or this? That? Wait a minute! Does it really even exist? Some claim that it’s simple science. Others, that it’s ‘junk’ science—or no science at all. Well what is it? Who ought we listen to? What ought we believe? Since it’s still “up in the air” (pun definitely intended) ought we care at all? And, if we should care who or what do we point our finger at. An industry? A person? T he truth is, folks, that the case for global warming has long been settled at least as far back as Nineteenth Century France—to be exact, during the heyday of the plein airistes. Any dedicated studio-encased painter could tell you way back then that it was those nutty outdoors ‘painters’ opening their toxic tubes of alizarin crimson, cadmium yellows, Prussian (i.e. ‘fascist’) blue and sap green being brazenly opened in the ‘pure’ light of day, contemptuously contaminating the atmosphere. Those committed indoor artistes were not taken in by the fancy label of plein airistes—they were unabashed polluters of our air and the real culprits of causing the global warming of our endangered planet. They even exported their evil abroad, the so-called “Hudson River School” in America, for example, avid followers of this misguided practice. Surely, we all are doomed to the inevitable curse of being made ‘toast’! So there! Hereby resolved! Fini!

colors

LET’S SAVE OUR PLANET AND BAN OUTDOOR PAINTING!


LET’S MAKE “GREAT” GREAT AGAIN!

February 7, 2017

WELL, HERE WE go again…some “visionary” wants to put his/her name on the world stage, engraving his/her name “in stone” for prosperity. We’ve been digging up such graven stones for some years now— even publicizing them in more modern ways such as “histories” written in print, for example — but the “posterity” business seems to constantly elude both givers and receivers of the message. In other words, the invariability of our having to re-live “history” because we ‘forget’ it. Would that our present-day pundits would read a book or two before declaiming their stupidities to the world at large. Such ‘mouthers’ — at times called “wise men”, or “prophets”, or “soothsayers” – even “oracles” — have plagued mankind for, lo, these many centuries, with their silly utterances. Oh, would that they pick up a book and read. Let alone our present “leader” and his proclamation of ‘greatening’ again (Oy! Another prophet! — Is that the sound of knickers twisting that I hear across the land?). Meanwhile we have to listen to another sooth-saying pundit announce to us that such proclamation sounds “Hitlerian”! Really! Read a book for gawd’s (or, better yet, our) sake! If anything, it simply sounds redundantly and embarrassingly human! Centuries before that dim-witted Austrian yelled “Deutschland uber Alles”ˆ, ancient egoists had been chanting similar absurdities thousands of years ago…and their predictions (“proclamations”, “warnings”, “fantasies” “greatness” claims, even “Divinity” at times ((really bad times))…whatever)…were as valid then as they still prove to be—namely, nothing but bulls—t.

Dreams of former “greatness” will undoubtedly not only plague Putin, but scores of new blowhards as well. You don’t think that Iran ever hearkens back to the Persian worldwide empire? Or Italy to its Roman Empire days? Or Greece (now one of the weakest/poorest members of the E.U.) to “back in the day”? How about France and the hey-day of Napoleon? Spain — when its tentacles reached across the Atlantic? Brits and their colonial “Empire”? And how about Native Americans and their attempts to hold sway over our blasphemous ‘immigrant’ pipelines? Let’s not even talk about the “religions” and their claims of coming “on from High.” Oh yeah! Let’s make America “great” again! As one former would-be ‘leader’ once said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘great’ means” — or something like that.

How about we try this time to make our species “great”? That’s never been tried yet. Instead of trying to make our tribe “great”, how about we begin to make mankind great by learning something about our entire history? How about we take a long, hard look at that word “great” – or maybe even the word “human”?

READ A BOOK!