Sunday, October 16, 2016


AMERICAN HONEY is an excellent movie - a "road trip" through the mid-west with a bus load of "innocents" (a tour bus of 20 teens and young adults) banding together making money selling magazines door-to-door spewing sly tales of loss, death and poverty, invoking pity to increase sales. At the same time displaying all the wild craziness and camaraderie of youth with their feeling of invincibility and a fierce sense of defying death which the sense of infallibility generates. 

Driving through the American landscape including the suburbs, the vast dry plains of Kansas and Nebraska, the fast food restaurants blinking inviting lights off the sides of the road, the flame lit pumping oil fields, and the ever-present homes that are drowning in poverty - all exposing the abundant layers of disparity in our country. 

 Like romping puppy dogs the "kids" nuzzle, jump over, and wrestle with one another and occasionally bite. Beautifully filmed and acted by Shia LaBoeuf and Sasha Lane -performances filled with bravado veiling the beauty of fragility.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


I am privileged to have had the opportunity to make a studio visit to the artist MIMI SMITH and write about her work for WOMEN"S VOICES FOR CHANGE. Here is the link to the article:

Link to Mimi Smith's Website:

Knight, 68"x30", acrylic/linen, 1993
Steel Wool Peignoir, 59"x26"x8", steel wool, nylon, lace, hanger, 1966
Bedroom Installation 1973: Bureau, 78"x60" and Bed, 72"x60"knotted thread, tape measure

Fireplace, 57"x103"x10", knotted thread, tape measures, 1974

Kitchen Installation 1973: Stove, 53"x31", Sink 53"x47" and Refrigerator, 74"x31"

Flower, 36"x16"x16", camouflage fabric, metal hanger, plastic wire, fasteners, 2010

Coverings For An Environmental Catastrophe: Chest Plate, 30"x24"x3", steel wool, aluminum screening, ribbons, 1991

Knit Baby, 21"x12"x6", yarn, undershirt, stuffing, thread, handwritten instructions on paper, 1968

Knit Man: Legs, 44"x14"x2", yarn, knitting needle, plastic bags, 1970

Test Tube Baby, 21"x12"x5", yarn undershirt, stuffing, threads, 2005

Triplets, 21"x36"x5", yarn undershirt, stuffing, threads, 2005
Terror Baby, 21"x12"x7", yarn undershirt, stuffing, threads, dust mask, 2009

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


A version of this article first appeared in Women's Voices for Change

“I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god-sullen, untamed and intractable. . . ”
—T.S. Eliot: Four Quartets

Sandy Gellis

The artist Sandy Gellis is one of the pioneer women artists to utilize water, earth, air and light as her palette, investigating the indispensable primary elements of life by transforming the mysterious “unseen” to the germinating “seen.” This poetic process often involves collaborating with people from all over the world who contribute specimens and life stories to her projects adding the human element to the metallurgic mix. Chemistry between people and the chemistry among basic mineral elements become a level of scrutiny and experimental research that harvest the shock of the wondrous.

The lack of final control can be liberating. How can we capture time in a timeless universe? How can we monitor the minutiae of burgeoning growth where the artist becomes nature’s architect – raining water on collected soil at her discretion; gathering hair from friends for HAIR PORTRAITS placing the tufts /thatches of locks into individualized hand-blown glass bowls filled with water, bubbles adhering to the floating strands as we observe fusion and adulteration beginning. Decay and ripening are often conjoined. The ever-moving clock will astonish us with what might occur - that is the awe-inspiring mystery the apprehensive dread of “art” constructed out of the capriciousness of earth’s materials. Like life itself we cannot corral change.

Hair Portrait - Grace

Hair Portrait - James

Sandy Gellis was born in New York City in the 1940s, and like many other children growing up in the1950s, she spent hours exploring and traipsing the streets of this magical city, playing gritty urban sports on the concrete sidewalks of the Bronx—a mainstay for most kids raised during that period. Her apartment rooftop was her observatory where the seeds for examining rainfall, clouds and rivers were sowed. A determinedly independent woman, Gellis began to pursue an interest in art, starting at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and continuing at the School of Visual Arts. She eventually connected with Jack Sonenberg, an inspiring and encouraging teacher, who she affectionately calls her “art daddy.” She credits Sonenberg as the person who gave her the courage to step out into the world and call herself an artist.

Oxidizing Holes - Photos: Patt Blue

Living in a concrete jungle surrounded by cement did not preclude a curiosity about water that goes back to her childhood in the Bronx when she would have nightmarish dreams of tidal waves engulfing her being, both terrifying and seductive. Ironically she never learned to swim – she can float – she says laughingly. Her very first outdoor public art installation sited at ON THE BEACH – BATTERY PARK, 1978 sponsored by Creative Time was titled OXIDIZING HOLES – SITE I. Holes were dug deep into the sand at the landfill and were coated with iron oxide powder. Clear plexiglass sheets sat atop welded iron frames covering the voids allowing for the cycle of condensation and evaporation to occur and function as markers defining the space. Fortunately her well-thought out plans went askew, as often happens when dealing with “Mother Nature,” and the power of the tides caused the holes to fill up and disappear (like her ever-recurring dream) causing Sandy to physically have to cope with the changing structures, frequently moving the markers and digging new holes making the project visually and psychologically more eloquent and expressive. Wrestling with this task forged a powerful epiphany strengthening her view of the water to the point that she often makes pilgrimages to rivers and oceans - like a wave washing over her – to feel at peace.   
Sandy in Nepal - Photo: Michelle Stuart

A trip to Nepal, while standing on a bridge overlooking a fairly dry river basin containing a trickle of water from the Himalayas, which in the Spring becomes a racing torrent of water, was “life changing” in its revelation of a microcosm of life’s commonplace and deeply significant social observances.
 “While traveling in Nepal in the 1980’s my awareness of rivers as a source of all life came into my consciousness. The river is a place where things happen: birth, death and cremation, sending ashes on in ritual, washing, bathing, feeding animals, digging up sand as mortar in building houses, a place to play and a place to wander...I was horrified and stimulated, sowing the seeds of a lifelong study…”

Sandy in Nepal - Photo: Michelle Stuart

River Project - Arno

Hudson River in May

Despite being a distance from her studio Sandy Gellis has a unique aesthetic relationship with the Hudson River.  It is a place where she often walks, carrying a bucket on a rope, which she imbeds into the water, and returns home to use in her artwork, mixing the river water (and whatever sludge remains,) with basic metals such as copper, bronze, cadmiums and iron powder, etc. The microscopic elements that we cannot see – the abundant evanescent organisms that swarm and multiply and are constantly flitting around us – are exposed over time, so we too can partake in the secret journey of living.

Hudson River Incubaton
Detail: Hudson River Installation

HUDSON RIVER INCUBATION – a gallery installation involving gestation and ripening, came out of her insatiable curiosity about what was pullulating in the river, and hoping that the resulting formations could be made visible. Sandy found a private dock along Lower Manhattan’s Hudson River, and got permission from the proprietor to drop into the river several clear snakelike tubes stuffed with cotton (acting like a petri dish)- one end nailed to the dock and the other end placed under the water for a period of two months. Once she removed the tubes from the water, they were sealed with wax and placed on the floor of the gallery. The artist placed lights slightly above the winding, circular tubes creating a constant source of heat so things nourished and propagated. But the work had a life of its own – growing very quickly and seemingly out-or-control, and Sandy had a visceral insight into both the beauty and chaos of natural phenomena.

Spring In The Northern Hemisphere

In the spring of 1987, Gellis in her desire to perceptibly capture atmospheric occurrences mailed twelve brass plates coated with water soluble ground to twelve individuals living at various locations above the equator with instructions that the plates be altered by the seasonal precipitation, and returned by early summer. The results became SPRING IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, an etching project. She then collaborated with Master Printers, who executed her wild and chimerical visions creating prints that are exquisitely elegant and subtly washed with color. 

Mapping Thermals - Photo: Terry Sanders

It is not only the rivers that Sandy explores but she also looks up to the skies. I asked about photographs of soaring turkey vultures, and am told that these birds depend on the rising pockets of sun-heated air (thermals) to effortlessly drift in flight, as they do not flap their wings. Sandy has spent many hypnotic hours regarding them with awe and admiration, tracing their patterns in the sky on etching plates - like automatic drawing – not looking down - her hand never leaves the plates, resulting in abstract diagrams of their gliding movements, which became the MAPPING THERMALS series made up of 12 intaglio, digital images with the actual plates adhered to the work.

Turkey Vultures in Flight
Visiting the loft I am stunned by the “cabinet of curiosities” I see on the walls, tables and floor. Glass cylinders of all sizes, fossil fragments, feathers, bowls of hair, pine needles, jars of collected rainfall, wires, colored pigments, and other materials that are a mystery to the uninitiated, but to Sandy Gellis they are the alchemy with which she conjures her art.   One might mistake some of the images we see in her photographs, prints, and books for the cosmos, but I realized that everything was interconnected. Our interior and exterior perspectives are aligned - time and space in Sandy's art range from the deepest oceans to the stars.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Robin Tewes with Men In Trouble Series
4 paintings - Elegy to Mother 40"x26" each, oil/canvas, 2009 R. Gone  With The Wind, From Here To Eternity, War And Peace,  Lost In Translation.
9-11, 28"x35" oil/birch pane, 2003
Abstract Art #2, 26"x24", oil/birch panel, 2016
Boy in Clouds, 33"x22", oil/birch panel, 2008
Fair Game, 28"x24", oil/birch panel 2007
Performance Revision, oil/birch panel, 20"x16", 2004
Single Mom #2, oil/canvas, 24"x18", 2013
Substitute, 26"x30", oil/canvas, 2014

Robin Tewes Studio Wall

Works in Progress 

I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to make a studio visit to the artist ROBIN TEWES and write about her work for WOMEN"S VOICES FOR CHANGE.
Men In Trouble #8

Please click on blue links to get further information on Tewes' art.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Didn't like Meryl Streep's new movie FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS: CURTAIN CALL based on a true story - though the audience and my movie partner enjoyed this "feel good" pablum. I saw it in a much more political/psychological light as a study of a delusional woman who was a patron of the arts, but was deaf to "hearing" her own voice clearly. Stephen Frears’ direction was a mix of trying to be camp" and serious. In contrast to the director John Waters whose work can be categorized as "camp"; but Waters’ has a protective, deep affection for his characters that is lovely- unlike this movie where the actors are portrayed as cartoon figures.

I am not easily entertained by films, demanding originality (which is rare) and am definitely not seduced by a story about a wealthy woman, who in the midst of WWII realizes her dreams through money and sycophants indulging her every whim.

I was reminded of that old joke: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Woody Allen's latest film CAFE SOCIETY is another lightweight effort by the Director, who feels that he has to put out a new second-rate movie every year. I am sick of Allen's Jewish jokes; his quips walk a tightrope, often falling into the net of anti-semitism. Jesse Eisenberg might be a smart guy in "real life," but he made a bad decision to be involved with CAFE SOCIETY. The character he plays is whiningly predictable, and Eisenberg is unable to give heft to an undeveloped role. 

The often terrific actress - Kristen Stewart whose gorgeous expressive eyes can usually make me a captive audience, tried her best, but could not pull this one out of the pool of mediocrity.

No one is given a chance to act because the screenplay is so love-at-first sight/older man falls for younger woman/infatuation with tawdry glamorous trappings - cliches that the characters who are paper thin can be upended by a whisper.

And I only giggled once!

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I am excited to have had the opportunity to visit Judith Henry's studio and write about her recent work in Women's Voices For Change. CLICK ON BLUE LINKS which will take you to Henry's website.