Monday, December 31, 2018



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The Naked Truths Frieze, 44 x90 inches, charcoal/rives paper, 2018-2019

Thursday, December 27, 2018

ROMA 12/27/18

Saw the much-acclaimed film ROMA and was seduced by the B&W digital photography and all the gray values that the camera was able to discern. It felt like a technologically enhanced version of films that I would see at the Heights Movie Theater (the local Washington Heights Art House} that only showed "foreign films". It was a delicious place because the movies they presented were more explicit about everything and that included sex - which made it a frequent destination point in the late 1950s.

ROMA is a personal film by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron dedicated to the woman LIBO who raised him - In the film, she is called Cleo and is the live-in maid in the family home in the Roma upper-middle-class neighborhood of Mexico City. The movie is shot against the 1970s backdrop of violent political and student unrest. Is this just another nostalgic tale told by a now successful man who is very aware of the large class divide in his home country? I had mixed feelings but am still sorting them out.

I agree with much of what Brody wrote but have some caveats. I thought ROMA was beautifully filmed in B&W - in homage to 50's Italian Neorealist film-makers. There are moments when the slow movement of the camera pans on and caresses not only the daily activities of a servant's duties but focuses on the essentials of life itself such as flowing water, rooftop sunlight creating transparent shadows on sheets drifting in the wind, revealing a cover of comfort and reminding us that they are also a consequence of drudgery, and a dog's excrement, squished from being stepped on, as if to tell us not to forget that shit is everywhere and unavoidable.

When a Master/Guru addresses a group of martial arts students and asks them to attempt to stand like a heron on one foot, arms up and eyes tightly - no one can perform this seemingly simple exercise - except for Cleo who is balancing on one foot without tottering. This act acknowledging her endurance and stoicism and the ability to with-stand (no pun intended) the world around her - that of extreme poverty and class disparity, a world where she sustains her role in silence acquiring the love of the children who adore her.

Yes, it is sentimentalized; yes it is patronizing, but it is a reality - in many many cultures. The loving maid/servant/slave surrogate mother who nurses a generation of children who are not her own.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


Grace Crashing Into Trump World: The Naked Truths Confront Trump, photo print, 2018

The Ignominious Trump Administration is confronted by the naked truths en masse - #thenakedtruth and #hazmatgrace.
We witness a President who increasingly has become more and more insidious and autocratic - a frightening first for this country.  In the Constitution - One cannot rule by Executive Order. One cannot rule by Fiat; we have 3 Branches of Government NOT one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Grace Crashing Into Trump World

Since 2016 I have been doing a series entitled GRACE CRASHING INTO TRUMP WORLD.

Often with bitter humor, often with anger, I try to show the danger and absurdity of this Presidency. I present myself with my "avatar" a blonde/white wig as "the naked truth"- who tries to show up and reveal the moral corruption and shame of this administration. Most recently I purchased a hazmat suit because Trump's toxicity has become even more lethal.

Please click on the thumbnail and then click on DETAIL IMAGE on the right- hand side and drag from the lower right-hand corner to enlarge images.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Julian Schnabel’s new film AT ETERNITY’S GATE is indelibly moving from the moment we hear murmuring voices in the first darkened frame - portending the interior struggle, and psychic agitation of the painter, Vincent Van Gogh, a haunted artist who tames the turbulence of his mind by the act of painting, assuaging “nature” into patterned marks of tactile, luminous beauty merging his whole being physically and piously with the subject. Since Schnabel is an artist himself, this “portrait” of Van Gogh is different from previous depictions, particularly in the singular way the film is shot,  and the understanding of his character. We “see” Vincent as a man who is sanely insane; a man who has the clarity to organize and penetrate the world around him, and a man who is suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness - one which he achingly endures. The movie instills in the viewer a profound empathy and recognition of his persistence in creating exquisite paintings despite a life of bleakness and despair; making art was digesting and breathing in life.

Willem Dafoe's performance as Vincent Van Gogh is heart-wrenchingly melancholy as we literally step into his shoes - (the camera often attached to him) as he rushes wildly through the reeds, blinded by the mistral winds howling, the dry, dying sunflowers with bent heads streak and fly around in front of our eyes as we sense the brutality of the elements and the dank coldness of desolation. Often the camera lens is foggy as if the artist’s tears obscure and humanize his vision.

We first meet Vincent in Paris as he dreams of a community of artists that live and work together, a yearning that is totally unrealistic given his idiosyncratic temperament. Except for the deeply felt relationship with his devoted patron/businessman brother Theo, only Paul Gauguin is responsive to his artwork which seems “ugly” and “unrealistic” to other onlookers. Gauguin played by Oscar Isaac, (regrettably did not seem well cast - lacking the charisma and heft of a Gauguin) recommends that he leave Paris and go south to Arles. He listens to his advice and is flung into the most passionate period of his short artistic life.

Schnabel conveys Vincent’s love of southern France as the camera pauses, lingers and then meanders through the countryside - the blinding light is contrasted with the “yellow” room that Van Gogh rents, monastically furnished with finished wet paintings, hung on the wall. Like an animal that has found his natural habitat, Vincent spends most days outdoors and we observe him sensuously outstretched flat on his back, intoxicatedly dribbling moist soil over his face and body - an animate internment. Being productive and frenetically heady as the sun beat down on him, Van Gogh’s periods of lapses of memory, and whatever incidents occurred during those spells become more prevalent. After several episodes which are never depicted or explained - a mystery to Vincent and to us - he is sent to  Saint-Rémy de Provence an asylum for the mentally ill where he spends one year feverishly painting. 

Throughout AT ETERNITY’S GATE,  I delightedly watched  Dafoe’s slender long fingers, his skull-like face encasing dark, vivid eyes working - the brush touching the canvas with a “lightness of being.” Julian Schnabel has unearthed some new information as to how Vincent Van Gogh died so the end is perhaps a revelation, perhaps fiction, but I sensed the truth of it - in light of Van Gogh’s steamy affair with art. Whatever demons he desperately fought, Van Gogh was able to paint the surrounding world with a directness and lucidity of a man in control of his destiny. I left the theater thinking this was no romanticized/mythologized bio-pic but a person that I, as a fellow artist could relate to - could understand and could (dare I say) love.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


I only have memories left of childhood Thanksgivings. Earlier family dinners celebrated in our Washington Heights apartment until “eminent domain” - George Washington Bridge needed a second level which ran right through our living room - drove us to move to an alien borough - the Bronx. No matter, the holiday air was filled with conflicting essences - spicy, sweet and overwhelmingly pungent once the trussed and bound turkey, glaringly white and naked was deposited into the oven - the aroma of its slow browning flesh filled the dining area, and eventually made its way into our bedroom, both enticing and to my vividly fearful imagination reminiscent of the “ovens” which imprinted their horrific acts on my family to a past that went back even further; but to this sensitive young girl, snippets of grief and shame seemed to flood the room with long gone strands of whispered conversations never forgotten.

My maiden Aunt - Tante Mushie - ( so named by my sister and I because she would mush up all her food) was invited regularly. I liked her and when she wasn't suffering cyclical depressions, she was intelligent and curious about culture, recommending movies and books to us. My mother Else felt comfortable with her and anointed Mushie the “heir apparent to the Wifedom if she should predecease my father so the “children” would be taken care of. My mother liked tight control over everything - particularly the future - so that was all set.

My beloved grandmother, Omi - the strongest maternal presence in my life, lived with us and on major Holidays, she usually sat at one end of the table opposite my quiet, gentle father who sensed early on that it was best to keep his mouth shut when sparks flew among the 4 women in the household. Omi was once the Queen of her domain, but after her life was upended by the Holocaust, she fled Germany and came to live with my parents in a small apartment on 180th Street, her dominant role was diminished, though her own sense of rightful authority never wavered. Omi was an embracing woman, a comforting presence in my life though she made life miserable for my mother demanding to be included in all events in my parents’ lives and constantly “beleidigt " (offended) so guilt became a permeable presence and has filtered down to me to this day.

The meals were both delicious and raucous. I, who was admittedly the brat in the family, claimed that the sweet potatoes with white marshmallows like maggots floating on the top of an orange mix should be discontinued as it did not seem to have many “takers.” I jumped on the drumsticks and since I love to eat bones I was content. The wonderful salads and puddings were a rare treat and my very favorite hot apple pie made with cream cheese was served as one of the desserts along with a cherry pie which was literally swimmingly good. I declared each year that we should pass out cups to drink the pie as it was so liquid and a fork was useless. My humorless mother did not crack a smile.

I really miss those bygone dinners and most of all those who sat at the table. Recall brings tears to my eyes; with age, the awareness of the past forever gone is something I am coming to accept. Tonight my sister and her husband are taking the family out to a restaurant for a Thanksgiving buffet. I never cook and do not have an oven - a microwave does the trick in my home - so do not host dinners, but it will be fun (if I behave) but can NEVER replace the drama and deliciously uneasy tenderness of those early years.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

HBO'S THE DEUCE 10/21/18

James Franco and James Franco
Maggie Gyllenhaal is carrying THE DEUCE on her shoulders. She is terrific in this HBO series which traces the evolution of pornography and prostitution in NYC focusing on 42nd St. and Times Square in the 1970's and '80's. The creators David Simon and George Pelecanos methodically document the early days of the king pimp's domination and exploitation of young women. We see the close connections to the Mob as well as the police - both greedily in on the sex-trade action receiving weekly payoffs in return for "protection".  This well-oiled system would not be allowed to operate if the powers that be were not profiting on a grand scale. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal

As society gradually changes via new technology, civil rights, and feminism - the effects are reflected in the industry and it is forced to change or die.  Pornographic films become a big business and Gyllenhaal as Candy becomes an entrepreneur and gains confidence in her own skills as a movie director - pitting her own vision against the traditional cheap peephole fuck films. 
Maggie Gyllenhaal
The ambiance in THE DEUCE is so authentic that the sticky, smutty rooms, filled with desperate male customers looking for a quick release of their frustrations/ fantasies, wash over me, and I glance around for anti-bacterial soap to rid myself of their sweaty desire. The "hookers" are  often innocent women from every social class coming to NYC to seek "fame and fortune," but unlike the cleaned-up Hollywood movies, Simons and Pelecanos show us the reality of the heartbreaking agony of drugs and poverty which they often fall into and the  often cruel and ruthless men who "take care of them."

James Franco does a great job playing twins, lower-class ambitious/conflicted brothers that grew up in one of the outer boroughs of NYC and land up on 42nd Street; one runs a bar for the mob and the other is a grifter/gambler. Franco is so understated that we forget that both characters are performed by one glamour -puss actor. There are many humane portrayals in this series - the range is wide and the insight into each personal choice is differentiated and individualized which I attribute to the incisive vision of David Simon whose previous work-particularly on HBO's The Wire and Treme should be seen.

Dominique Fishback and Margarita Levieva

The scrutiny of one small area in NYC as a microcosm of an illegal underground enterprise is deliberate and disciplined. Sex is often hard, boring work with moments of ecstasy and violence, and that love has nothing to do with it. Money and a hierarchy of corruption are at the root of THE DEUCE which is buffeted by winds of change.