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Temporary Life

SEPTEMBER 12, 2011
The end of summer is upon us.  A bummer, huh?  I don't mind the change of seasons but I haven't easily forgotten the winter in the northeast last year.  I like being outside running/training and driving with windows down and feeling the warmth of summer.

I haven't been posting too much the last few months because, in part, I've been on a 'social-media-fast' a bit.  It takes a long time to put these sorts of things together - then there is Facebook and Twitter and emails...it gets to be too much. I'm not really complaining about social media but just found other things to keep me occupied that moved me away from a screen and interact with real life - which is a lot more fun - and I think a little bit healthier.

I rarely post something like this without some sort of art-thing I've created attached to it but this time, I thought I would blog about life a bit.  As important as creating art is to my life, there needs to be other things that inform that creativity.  Inspiration, as it were.  Part of being an artist is being observant.  As a matter of fact, I put 'observation' way up high on the list of requirements to be an artist of some sort.  It's simply part of my job.

When I was a kid, I drew quite often what was around me and I think obsessing over drawing those Beetle Bailey cartoons, plastic model hot rods I would build, trees and anything else that was in front of me, helped me realize later on in life how important it is to be part of life itself - experience things and observe everything.  From watching a student make a break-through with their work, to talking with a friend who is having relationship issues, watching first-hand someone go through major medical proceedures, or having their first child, seeing new interesting color combinations or simply watching a bug crawl across a window - all of it.  All of this stuff we go through and see, good, bad, amazing and horrifying is important and all of it informs our own lives.  Hopefully, throughout it all, it'll remind us not to get so focused on something that we forget viewing the bigger picture.

I like to pack my schedule and life with things to do, experience and create.  I don't have the need to make paintings 24/7 but I do have a need to live creatively, thoughtfully and try to experience what I can.  Frequently, you'll find me barely sleeping.  That's not to say I don't collapse once in a while, have a sleep-in weekend or just sitting on my deck with a book or staring across the treetops.  I still consider that working because I am informing my life. It gives me time to just 'be' and think and help inform what I do next as a creative person.

I think I have a darker view of things than most folks and I use that to my advantage.  When I start feeling complacent and lazy which I think we all find ourselves falling into sometimes, I remind myself occassionally that at 40 years old, I generally have about 40 summers left, 40 Christmases, 40 Springs and so on - and that's if something doesn't get in the way of that which would cut it short.  Life is generally very short and unfortunately, I think many people, if not most, forget that.  I don't think its on purpose but just like they expect the toilet to flush everyday - not really thinking about it.  My guess is that they are used to getting up every morning...alive...and doing whatever they do and somehow, take for granted that the next morning they'll actually wake up.

By the time I was in my late 20's, I experienced a lot of people pass-on in my life for various reasons - cancer, car accidents, drug overdoses, suicides - a good friend who was only 18 back in the early 90's died from leukemia.  Now, more recently, watching members of my family disintegrate in front of me in various ways drives home even further how fragile yet powerful life can be and a reminder of how temporary all of this actually is.
The first sets of pictures I wanted to start this post with are from the amazing Chihuly exhibit that recently closed at the MFA which I saw about 4 times.  I put up the three photos in the beginning because I thought that the exhibition was so abstract and fantastic.  Not 'fantastic' as in 'great' (which it was) but fantastic in that it really made me feel that the world was altered in a fantastical way.  Walking through the exhibit was liike falling down the rabbit hole where the world is a blown glass version of an underwater Wonderland.  That is one of my biggest joys in life is seeing something in the world that breaks the boundries of the norm and turns reality on its head.
If there was ever a piece of art that really altered the landscape recently it was the Giant Head in Madison Square Park.  It actually made people I know dizzy because it looked so warped!  Cool!  Like the Chihuly exhibit, I couldn't get enough of seeing this.

For me, looking at the world through all these lenses keeps it interesting and vibrant.  It helps me derail myself from the daily hum that occurs in life sometimes with repetitive jobs or work.  That old line 'just so you know you are alive' comes to mind.

I'm not that great of a writer and hopefully this post isn't too fragmented but I hope my point got across here.

The rest of the photos, I'll just let stand as they are with some simple notes.  I've taken hundreds of shots the last three or four months but thought I'd share only a handful of experiences.

(Addition: I saw Zimm's post this morning which I adored because children are a great reminder of life and what it could be and his comment: "Remember when running down a hill was the best thing ever?"  It still is.  And I think we still should run down those hills, physically and metaphorically...but just remember, at our age if you are going to physically run down the hill, make sure you have some health insurance...!)

MassArt Illustration Graduates of 2011!! I miss these guys! A really hard working bunch and many of them out there making art!
A shot from the stage at the Society of Illustrators looking out at the enormous crowd just before the Student Scholarship Awards Ceremony begins. This is where I usually freak out and get nervous having to give a speech to over 300 people staring at me. Hey look...there's Tim O'Brien, Dan Fishel and Murray Tinkelman...!
www.molly-stone.com | A just-graduated former student, Molly Stone (currently my intern) came down to support classmates who were accepted into the Scholarship show with her boyfriend, Andrew. We all decided to see NYC from the top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A beautiful day!
Flowers on Park Avenue. I love flowers. That's one of my 'Freak-Out Owls'.
Leo Espinosa and Laura in the background. This was a going away party with a bunch of the local illustrators and friends. We miss you Leo!
Rob Dunlavey, John S. Dykes, Elizabeth Traynor (recent Society Silver Medal Awardee) at Leo's going away party.
When I am in NYC, I am often in Brooklyn - because it's cool - and I happened upon this...and I agree.
How cool is this? This street vendor was selling all these insects!
Walking around Brooklyn aimlessly and had no idea they closed down 7th Avenue for a fair! A good surprise!
Freak-Out Owl and one of my favorite people, Mike DiIoia, Art Director at Discover Magazine.
More favorite people - I was supremely honored to be invited to Laura Tallardy's wedding. The wedding happened on a boat under the Brooklyn Bridge. How cool is that!? Back there in the middle is Super-Buddy Kate Kelly, rep at Morgan/Gaynin - and behind them is the Brooklyn Bridge.
During the summer, Kristina and I wanted to do some plein-air painting. We still have more to do but this was my first proper attempt at it at the local arboretum. A fun day! Still got to work on this sort of thing - I need more practice so I don't get laughed at by plein air awesomeness Robert Hunt. ;o)
I helped curate a show of historic illustration for the New Britain Museum of American Art earlier this year and the show is up. My three choices were Joe DerMers, Bernie Fuchs and Coby Whitmore. I love those guys. It's always a treat to see their originals up close. I got to write the captions for the pieces and my own personal reasons why I chose the art. There is about 70 pieces hanging in the show and probably still hanging. Check it out if you can!
Of course...in the studio frequently slinging paint. Production was high this summer(and still is) for various gallery shows and illustration work. I sometimes forget how time consuming 30x40's can get!
This is a hemo-dialysis machine. That red stuff flowing through the tubes is my Mom's blood during one of her treatments. That cartridge on the right is the mechanical version of a kidney cleansing the blood. While crazy and unnerving, this machine has helped her lose 70lbs. and it's much healthier than the home dialysis. She still needs a kindney transplant though and writing this, found out she has a heart issue now. It never ends. Stay healthy folks. Seriously.
Intermission:  CANDY NECKLACES!!!
Here's Kristina who is part of my everyday life getting dressed up for a photo-shoot we did for the flyer for a party we had that happened to coincide with opening weekend for the last Harry Potter movie. I got to pour blood on my head...which is enough excuse for me to dress up like Harry Potter. We got first class tickets to the opening. Leather recliners, food service, wine, etc at the theater. I'm not going to post the final flyer here - that was only for the special folks who came to the party. ;o)
Hopefully, the next photos will redeem myself from the Harry Potter stuff. The US Air Force sent me out to Washington to observe and create art based upon what was going on there. I am not going to get into it here but there will be a detailed post about it when the art is completed. That's an M-24 Sniper Rifle. Bad-ass.
I was lucky enough to fly in a C-130 and watch an equipment drop from the open bay door. We flew between 500-1000 feet from the ground for an hour careening through valleys. Completely awesome - AND I almost puked because of air sickness. You can see how low we were in this shot.
To the immediate left of the previous shot was this. The blown out side of Mount St. Helens.
While I was in Tacoma, a few of us went to a park near the shore and happened upon a big-band playing some great tunes with a knock-out sunset happening behind them.
Having never been to Washington before, after the USAF project was done, I added another week to my trip to experience Seattle - a place I've always wanted to go to. Got to see the first Starbucks, museums, parks and all the touristy stuff that goes along with it. It's safe to say I felt very comfortable in Seattle. A great place!
....and what?
Unbeknownst to me but knownst to the Seattlites, the famous Torchlight Parade was happening the week I was there. Folks in Seattle set up their lounge and beach chairs on the side of the ride the night before to watch this parade. It must have lasted almost 3 hours! It was amazing.
A great exhibition.
I truly love sunsets. Everyone is different and they are all breathtaking. Sunsets are cool to see from ABOVE the sunset! I took some interesting shots on the way home from Seattle including film. On the way home, I saw the sunset in Seattle and sunrise when I got back to Boston a few hours later. This was amazing to see. The sunrise looks like we're flying over a molten lava planet.
Kristina and I 'mugging' during a photo-shoot for one of her projects. "By the power of Greyskull!!!"
I hope everyone out there in the world has had a great summer and hopefully is enjoying themselves.  Today, i start teaching my first classes of the new semester, meet new young artists and tonight is the Earth: Fragile Planet opening - a full day....just the way I like it.

Thanks for stopping by and best wishes!