Saturday, December 17, 2016


When you study the 
lines, it becomes obvious 
there are other worlds. 
Drawing is nothing 
like reality but it
shares the same
attributes of push 
and presence. 
When I first began 
hacking around with 
a pencil, I realized I 
was looking right 
into the maw of 
another set of 
realities  -  I could 
blaze my way 
anywhere. Running 
through art school 
and studio spaces 
and all that, I did 
my acquaintance 
with form and 
color good  - 
oil paints, acrylics, 
waters, mixed-media 
things, found objects, 
assorted versions of 
a 'collage' format. 
I was always 
thinking, so that 
after a time it 
all became a 
very normal 
nature to me, 
and is  -  to this 
day and moment  
-  the way I still 
see. Form and 
color, content 
and weight, 
tension and 
randomness and
design, swirl 
and eddy. There
is really nothing 
within a 'scene' 
that bears a true 
witness to itself 
until the artist's 
eye grabs hold 
of it, in whatever 
singular fashion 
that may be, and
makes of it something 
again, different entire,
and newly-rafted,
afloat and fraught 
with symbol and 
meaning. I can 
'walk' into a scene, 
and find a place 
through which to 
disappear out of
and then know too
that I have arrived 
at a different place,
a conclusion other
than that which the 
rest of the dreadful 
world has presented. 
Perspective and 
overlap, echo 
and image. There 
wasn't much 
more for me.
It's funny how 
life pulls you 
where it wants. 
There are probably 
a hundred guys, 
good with a pencil, 
crafty and adept, 
who'd be drawing, 
and far better than 
I ever did, and who 
probably entered 
Uncle Sam's Army 
willingly and ended 
up as wartime-artists, 
the people who 
drew battle scenes 
and had them 
printed in 
Stars n' Stripes, 
the Army publication. 
Illustrating propaganda 
pieces or instructional
field manuals or 
those introductory 
handbooks for 
new recruits. The 
military was always 
churning through 
things and putting 
any of a million 
young guys to some 
sort of 'useful' purpose. 
Like anyone else, I 
could have said 
that was my interest, 
what I wished to 'do'.  
They'd sometimes 
listen  -  questionnaires 
and all. Like a musician 
kid, putting in for 
band detail. Yes, 
but for me, none 
of that would have 
worked. And I knew 
it. I was already so 
far gone, and my 
mind was so 
abstracted, that 
anything I may 
have sketched 
for those jerks 
would have 
implicated me 
in some weirded-out 
with them that 
would have 
probably had me 
to the brig in a quick
15 minutes.
A good portion of
my life has been 
about loss and 
missed chances 
anyway. I had an 
uncle who, right 
after his military
time, took a GI Bill 
stipend and went off
to the Buffalo Art 
Institute, or Buffalo 
Institute of Art, whatever. 
He became a graphic 
artist, a commercial 
sketcher. I never much 
got to know him, past 
the normal Uncle stuff,
but now I wish I did. 
During my NYC time, 
he was working daily, 
somewhere down on
Wall Street. I never once 
looked him up, never 
spent a minute sharing 
notes, or even trying 
to get to know him
What was it like for him,
then, right after the war?
How did he fare in 
immediate postwar 
Buffalo, what artists 
influenced him, 
interested him, how 
did he go about his 
study of Art? To end 
up as a Commercial
artist, yes, in my view,
was a pretty sucky 
thing, the ultimate bad
compromise, but that
didn't matter. What was 
his worldview? Was it
influenced by 'Art'?
What did he care about? 
Did he care about 
anything? What 
interested him? I 
could have talked to 
him ten months to
a day, but said not 
a word. Divergent 
worlds. But I was 
the idiot, not him.
Every so often, back 
then, and much more 
prevalent today, along
the sidewalks and parks, 
you'd see someone set
up with an easel and 
things. They'd be sitting 
there all absorbed in
sketching buildings or
skylines, tree and people,
the parks and lanes. It's
a very solitary thing  - 
in the sense that, yes, 
it's a lonely endeavor.
I'd watch them, and still
do. They're 'processing'
information in only the
way an artist and his
or her hands can do. The
ones there today, mostly
Asians, usually older 
guys and women, for 
ten bucks or more, 
whatever, will, with
some ease, quick-sketch
the sitter. Fairly nice
facial sketches, applied
colors, chalk or pencil,
blush, coloration, etc.
These people 'get' their
job done, and it's no 
fakery  -  there's no 
three-card monte type
cheating or false-eye
stuff going on. However,
what they 'make' of the 
world is nothing at all. 
There is simply no movement
at all. They merely seem
to 'represent' what it is 
said they are 'seeing' 
and leave it at that.
To me, it's a failure, and
- yes too - a gimmick.
Like those old films of
the 1950's Greenwich
Village Sidewalk Art
Shows. with guys in
chinos hiding behind 
Art in their quest to follow
and find that hot-looking
jazz-babe with the pointy
sweater. The Art's there,
yes, but why bother
the illusion at all?

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