gallerist

Winter Lessons Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein Ron Throop

Winter LessonsRoy_Lichtenstein_Drowning_Girl

Left: Winter Lessons by Oswegonian Ron Throop /Right: Drowning Girl By escaped Oswegonian Roy Lichtenstein

A post from March 2014, to introduce Oswego to those arriving from Hyperallergic:

Wow. Yesterday I read a 2004 article on Roy Lichtenstein, a very famous painter of the late twentieth century. I already knew that he taught for a couple years at the state college in Oswego. I also read in a biography that his wife hated it here. The winters were tough and she began to drink like a fish. My elderly next door neighbor said she caused quite a stir at the faculty wives’ club the night she wore colored stockings. I never knew what a great failure Lichtenstein was the day before he started painting comics. He was an abstract painter who loved Picasso and Cézanne. His paintings amassed unsold in the basement.

Yesterday I read with laughing eyes the early tale of Roy. The parallels are enough of a story to keep me plugging away at my own failure. I quote at length.

“Roy would say, ‘I know any minute someone’s going to come and shake me and say, Mr Lichtenstein, it’s time for your pills, and I’ll be back in Oswego, in a wheelchair.’ There was a touch of Lichtenstein’s characteristic self-deprecating humour about that. But also a sense that he had been, as she says, “very lucky to have been where he was at a given moment”.

Roy knew, like all painters do, that success is a crap shoot with a 1,679,616-sided die. Only a wise, self-deprecating Oswego artist would admit to this.

“But the teaching post he held in Oswego from 1958 to 1960 was a low point of his career, very far from the wealth and art stardom that were his within a couple of years… At the time he got the job in Oswego, Lichtenstein had been working as a painter for nearly 20 years, and achieved almost no success. Bruce Breland, a colleague of the time, remembered that Lichtenstein ‘had shown in New York—with no results. He was showing paintings and they were going stone-nowhere.’”

All my paintings also going cement-nowhere in the basement.

“Lichtenstein did a series of part-time jobs—window dresser, draftsman, furniture designer, painting dials on instruments—while his wife, a successful interior designer, was the main breadwinner. Lee Csuri, sculptor and wife of another old friend, remembered that in the mid-1950s, ‘Roy was very despondent about what he was doing. And feeling he was nowhere. His painting of that time was abstract expressionist, but it was very muddy’”.

Yahoo! My wife is a graphic designer, the bread winner, and my feelings of despondency on a good day have me yank off just enough mustache nose hairs to goad me to the next chore.

“Then in 1958, he got the job in Oswego. But as Avis Berman, a researcher into Lichtenstein’s life, concluded: ‘Living in Oswego was disastrous for the Lichtensteins. The winters were brutal and Isabel lacked fulfilling work, and began drinking in earnest.’ So at 37, Lichtenstein had a dead-end post in the sticks, a wife who was rapidly becoming an alcoholic, and a studio full of paintings no one wanted to look at. Then his luck began to change.”

Oooh, I can only hope.

“As Dorothy Lichtenstein tells the story, ‘Roy was always trying to get back to the New York area, and in 1960 he was able to get a job teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey. And there was a group of interesting and lively people there, including the artists Alan Kaprow and George Segal. Roy had a feeling that if he’d still had a job teaching out in the boondocks, he might have done his first Pop work, but not carried on. He felt there was something that comes from response and encouragement that fuels you to go further than you might in a vacuum.’”

Response and encouragement. Roy had a feeling. Ron has one from time to time. He expresses it, and in return receives the appreciative song from a cricket stowing away under a stair in an abandoned Oswego factory.

“But there might have been another trigger. As Chuck Csuri, Lee’s husband, recalls, Lichtenstein’s son David came home one day from school and complained: ‘Joey’s father’s a policeman, and Henry’s father’s this, and Virginia’s does that. And you’re an artist and you can’t draw.’ Roy said, ‘Oh, OK.’ So he got out a canvas and drew a comic-book image. The result might have been Look Mickey, with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. In it, Donald is fishing, and says, ‘Look Mickey, I’ve hooked a big one’. And a big, new idea was exactly what Lichtenstein had got hold of himself”.

That is all the parallel I need. Back in 1998 Roy’s spirit must have hightailed it back to Oswego, and flew up my nose.

Now to focus on the work and the big break which is sure to come at fifty, using the logic of arrested development afflicting the middle-aged in the 21st century. I shall keep at work, seek escape, and let my mustache hairs grow into my mouth.

Save

Save

World War II Studies On Press Cleaning Sheets

_DSC7638

“Ralph the U.S. Citizen Holding the Fence at Manzanar”

From Last Communion

More war stories. I think I’ll call it “The Lucky Seven”. At 7:00 p.m. I descend into my studio and paint seven stories onto printing press clean-up sheets. The “lucky” are those fortunate to have lived during wartime when fear gathered all the people together in violence and racism.
World History is every class necessary to earn a degree in group psychology. Groupthink is an oxymoron, and a fear that consumes me with its mighty power. Just a brief read in any LIFE magazine published during the war years to see my point.
Can propaganda alone sway public opinion? Is the latter anything that the most noise (visual and official) says it is?
I think so.

_DSC7634

“Train Tracks to Auschwitz Unmolested”

omaha

Amphibious Vehicle Adding To Aquatic Din on Omaha Beach

skullgirl

“Midwest Beauty Receiving Japanese Skull From Sweetheart Stationed in Phillipines”

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“Elderly Woman Being Cooked In Dresden Apartment”

_DSC7640

“President Kill and the Roast Turkey”

If Our Neighbor Mr. Smith Caught Me Playing With An iPhone, He Would Have Mowed Over It With His Rotary

Mr.Smith

2015. On Masonite®, 12 x 16″

Right? Back in 1978, lazy, uninspired morons (Freud’s definition of 8 to 12 year old mentality) got mocked for being so non-disruptively apathetic. That’s why I stayed in my room many autumn days and nights dreaming by the window. If someone knocked at the door, I’d run to my room and hide. To me it was perfectly normal then, as it is now. Of course if it was a friend, I’d feel foolish for running, but for all the knocks at my parent’s door, the friend knock was very seldom. So overall I believe hiding from others is okay, especially if one believes like Sartre, that Hell is other people. Who wouldn’t run from Hell if given an escape route? Especially one that led to a cozy, thick blue shag carpet?

Lots of paintings on the walls for my show next weekend. Don’t think I won’t be hiding.

Winter Lessons Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein Ron Throop

Winter LessonsRoy_Lichtenstein_Drowning_Girl

Left: Winter Lessons by Oswegonian Ron Throop /Right: Drowning Girl By escaped Oswegonian Roy Lichtenstein

A post from March, to introduce Oswego to those arriving from Hyperallergic:

Wow. Yesterday I read a 2004 article on Roy Lichtenstein, a very famous painter of the late twentieth century. I already knew that he taught for a couple years at the state college in Oswego. I also read in a biography that his wife hated it here. The winters were tough and she began to drink like a fish. My elderly next door neighbor said she caused quite a stir at the faculty wives’ club the night she wore colored stockings. I never knew what a great failure Lichtenstein was the day before he started painting comics. He was an abstract painter who loved Picasso and Cézanne. His paintings amassed unsold in the basement.

Yesterday I read with laughing eyes the early tale of Roy. The parallels are enough of a story to keep me plugging away at my own failure. I quote at length.

“Roy would say, ‘I know any minute someone’s going to come and shake me and say, Mr Lichtenstein, it’s time for your pills, and I’ll be back in Oswego, in a wheelchair.’ There was a touch of Lichtenstein’s characteristic self-deprecating humour about that. But also a sense that he had been, as she says, “very lucky to have been where he was at a given moment”.

Roy knew, like all painters do, that success is a crap shoot with a 1,679,616-sided die. Only a wise, self-deprecating Oswego artist would admit to this.

“But the teaching post he held in Oswego from 1958 to 1960 was a low point of his career, very far from the wealth and art stardom that were his within a couple of years… At the time he got the job in Oswego, Lichtenstein had been working as a painter for nearly 20 years, and achieved almost no success. Bruce Breland, a colleague of the time, remembered that Lichtenstein ‘had shown in New York—with no results. He was showing paintings and they were going stone-nowhere.'”

All my paintings also going cement-nowhere in the basement.

“Lichtenstein did a series of part-time jobs—window dresser, draftsman, furniture designer, painting dials on instruments—while his wife, a successful interior designer, was the main breadwinner. Lee Csuri, sculptor and wife of another old friend, remembered that in the mid-1950s, ‘Roy was very despondent about what he was doing. And feeling he was nowhere. His painting of that time was abstract expressionist, but it was very muddy'”.

Yahoo! My wife is a graphic designer, the bread winner, and my feelings of despondency on a good day have me yank off just enough mustache nose hairs to goad me to the next chore.

“Then in 1958, he got the job in Oswego. But as Avis Berman, a researcher into Lichtenstein’s life, concluded: ‘Living in Oswego was disastrous for the Lichtensteins. The winters were brutal and Isabel lacked fulfilling work, and began drinking in earnest.’ So at 37, Lichtenstein had a dead-end post in the sticks, a wife who was rapidly becoming an alcoholic, and a studio full of paintings no one wanted to look at. Then his luck began to change.”

Oooh, I can only hope.

“As Dorothy Lichtenstein tells the story, ‘Roy was always trying to get back to the New York area, and in 1960 he was able to get a job teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey. And there was a group of interesting and lively people there, including the artists Alan Kaprow and George Segal. Roy had a feeling that if he’d still had a job teaching out in the boondocks, he might have done his first Pop work, but not carried on. He felt there was something that comes from response and encouragement that fuels you to go further than you might in a vacuum.'”

Response and encouragement. Roy had a feeling. Ron has one from time to time. He expresses it, and in return receives the appreciative song from a cricket stowing away under a stair in an abandoned Oswego factory.

“But there might have been another trigger. As Chuck Csuri, Lee’s husband, recalls, Lichtenstein’s son David came home one day from school and complained: ‘Joey’s father’s a policeman, and Henry’s father’s this, and Virginia’s does that. And you’re an artist and you can’t draw.’ Roy said, ‘Oh, OK.’ So he got out a canvas and drew a comic-book image. The result might have been Look Mickey, with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. In it, Donald is fishing, and says, ‘Look Mickey, I’ve hooked a big one’. And a big, new idea was exactly what Lichtenstein had got hold of himself”.

That is all the parallel I need. Back in 1998 Roy’s spirit must have hightailed it back to Oswego, and flew up my nose.

Now to focus on the work and the big break which is sure to come at fifty, using the logic of arrested development afflicting the middle-aged in the 21st century. I shall keep at work, seek escape, and let my mustache hairs grow into my mouth.

Save

Price List For “Art Is Work” Show.

The Nile-ist

“The Nile-ist and His Happy Nest” 2008. Acrylic on paper, framed behind glass. 21 X 28″. $47

The books will be priced as printed on the back cover. The paintings are a good deal. There are about seventy works and only 2 are marked over a hundred dollars. These are garage sale prices, but more than that, because I layed the foundation for the garage myself, and built its walls and roof, ran electricity to switch and light, built the car inside the garage, refined the oil that runs the car, traveled to Southeast Asia and gambled for the rubber that cushions the ride, etc… I had nothing to do with the plastic cup holder. It is hideous design. Look at my price list here:

PriceListZink

Attend the show. Dole out my pittance or barter your old shoes.

If I was Mao, Minions Would Heat Winter's Sky and Paste Leaves On Trees

If I was Mao, Minions Would Heat Winter’s Sky and Paste Leaves On Trees. 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 18 X 24″. $29

The Joy of Art Kind Of Not Really

_DSC1738 _DSC1538

Here are three characters from a favorite novel of mine by Jean Giono, The Joy of Man’s Desiring. I haven’t read it in some time, but I think it often. Jourdan and Marthe are a childless old couple existing on Grémone Plateau with day to day drudgery and barely tepid emotional disturbance toward either direction on the happiness meter. Then one night Jourdan gets the urge to plow his field beneath starry skies. A saunterer approaches from the south. “The sky looks like Queen Anne’s Lace,” he says to Jourdan. They share a pipe and joy begins. Marthe catches on early in the novel and with Bobi’s goad, takes a sack of the surplus grain and feeds it to the birds, who like Bobi, come out of nowhere to visit a place nobody ever wants to visit. Despair.

A mystery novel without a whodunit. A novel of mystery. Worth reading if you can execute your Kindle one morning and go lay down in a field with the deer ticks.

Last night I went to a couple art shows and fell asleep. The business of art. Without music. Without unchoreographed dance. Like drinking hot beer on a hot day when you’re not even thirsty. One was a BFA exhibition at the college. The other a printmaking show at Zink Shirts. My wife and I went to both, and afterwards I sat in the driveway ranting for five minutes on the sorrows of a culture that is so morbidly dead, it cannot even make the joy of art manifest to desirous and wanting people.

We don’t know how to live. Careful steps. A quiet view, and then on to the next. Nobody says a thing about it. Shhh. The graduates are learning early on how to spill the soul to wipe it up quickly before it stains the carpet. Inspired work at both shows no doubt. That is how art flows through and is presented by the art-maker. But inspiration and gladness stops there, before the canvas is dry. The young people had a better crowd, more smiling faces, doting grandmothers, encouragement, awards and catering. They’ll want to make art professionally, but more likely search for a creative paid position in life, and never ever make a leap or a peep at a juried art exhibition, or when stepping into a gallery, or swan diving off a tall building. Only in the 21st century can art become something this sad.

My friend Dan is unwittingly beating with a stick the cultural tendency to kill art with decorum. One-track minded, he will succeed. He goes to Manhattan, an Oswego bear with primal humanity, to teach a wild lesson to these uptight, unartful, millionaire gallery dandys. Another friend, Eric, spent his Friday afternoon grinding a stone up into some shape a wine-soaked Mt. Olympus decorator would purchase for Zeus’ parlor. Two remembrances from the BFA show made my driveway rant less devastating, leaving the door a crack open for hope, more or less.

The gallery director Mike, also my friend, told the story of a job interview he had once at a pet cemetery. If hired he would become official headstone painter. A likeness of a cat to represent the dead cat. A bunny, a bunny. Or just paint it the favorite color of the deceased. The 90-year-old owner was the last to interview. Mike was told to yell into the old man’s practically deaf ear. Even though it brought him pain to do it, he did it, but not loud enough he guessed. He wasn’t hired. That story was rock n’ roll. It was life. I laughed. For me it brought meaning to all the pretty pictures hanging on the walls.

On a wall outside the gallery was a black and white poster photo taken in 1970 of the art faculty at the time. Some were dressed haphazardly into costume, because artists are allowed to do that for a group photo. One of my wife’s old professors, who is in the picture, walked me through it naming names, and pointed to his wife in the top row. I laughed and laughed. Then he brought our thirteen year old daughter over to the drawing teacher to get his criticism of the sketch book always attached to her hip at these functions. Haunting photo. Replete with twelve conflicting emotions if you’re foolish enough to let them mingle.

I am. Ta-da!

The reason I fall into despair from time to time is because I am the art fool who remains a league or two behind joy, but can easily see it and hope to get it for myself and others. Art is rock and roll, or jazz, hip-hop, what have you. An art show is a dead thing for most. Why? Because it is unshared. All the Bobis are out trying their best to reanimate the clay of their sisters and brothers. Impossible without a pow-wow, games, flash dancing, and overall wildness. It could happen, but not with pretty pictures. The Beats did it with wine jugs and bad poetry. Bobi succeeded with flowers, juggling and oats to a few eager peasants of Grémone Plateau. The painter as artist succeeds for himself only, from time to time. It is never good enough for everyone, not even anybody on the best day.

The Me culture continues to make art for the mees. Me too. But I am joining Dan on his next teaching lesson in Manhattan. I will follow through with my three-chord club idea, so I can get together with other bad guitar players and a jug of homemade wine. I’ll continue to show my paintings also, but only with the caveat that the room plays the music loud.

 

These Nights Light An Oyster Cracker Moon Over A Red Tide Chowder

These Nights Light An Oyster Cracker Moon Over A Red Tide Chowder

This morning I shall feed two birds with one oyster cracker. The story below is about a time during a past Christmas season when I went out peddling my own books. My wife and I had a twelve-year old and a yearling to wow with Christmas gifts, but neither dime nor dollar in the money bowl. Yesterday we received another solicitation from Chase in the mail telling us to open a checking account with their bank. They will deposit $200.00 as a free gift. That is one hell of an oyster cracker!

Chase as door to door salesman. Peddling other people’s money, gobs of it, for some nefarious reason of which we can only guess. “Here’s 200 clams. Not a painting. No book to read. Direct deposit with us and you’ll be able to stuff a whole tub with oyster crackers.” Why their offer grinds at my insides, I don’t know. Perhaps my success at repetitive failure from hawking creative writing and painting has finally caught up with my mortal pride. Yesterday I wrote about how local artists everywhere need to boycott galleries, museums, any third party advocates who claim the secret knowledge of appraising art for the people. They have taken away our right to peddle, to personalize, to self-portraiture. The middlemen of art have taught the people to beware of the unrepresented artist. He can’t have anything you want. He’s up to no good, and lacking any real talent, we can assure you…

I need to connect to people. I don’t want Rita the gallerist. Neither does Rita. Rita needs Rita and the painter gives a piece of himself to Rita to help Rita find Rita. How much is that worth? Not a penny more than a gifted $200.00 deposit and a new pleather checkbook from the galleries of JP Morgan Chase. Hurry, this offer wont’s last. We’ll hold death’s door open to the working class, but only for a limited time.

We will turn down Chase’s money offer. The company will not suffer. No top executive will marvel at the surprisingly high cost of rope at his neighborhood home center after bombing another marketing plan. I will never again peddle my books to the middleman. He is just that. A “middle” man. Keeping the “low” low. False praising the “high” highly. The middle secures more antidepressants, and easy admittance into the chowder house of our choice. Hence the painting above and the story below.

Rather Have An Oyster Cracker?

Two thousand-thirty-five years ago Christ was born in the land without snow. He was a dark-haired baby who didn’t wear diapers. Christ was a baby and all babies live peace. Besides hitting his mother when he wanted her to play with him, he was very peaceful. Kings brought the divine child presents, not one of them a small plastic toy phone. A variety of presents, but not one that a child would want to play with. Frankincense and Mir? Don’t ask. Just receive and smile, smile and receive, and make sure the gifts are big enough not to get lodged in your new savior’s throat.
This Christmas more than one person will drive forty miles to purchase a popular candle holder. When my oldest daughter was very young, she was taught to give nothing besides love and attention, and occasional crayon drawings of devotion. Slowly, gradually, over the past couple years, Santa Claus has left her heart. It is only a matter of time before Christmas makes her deeply and hopelessly frazzled like the rest of us.
This Christmas I am depressed. I’m out of the kind of work that writes you a check for the holidays. Joy has left my body. I have no way of knowing if I will ever be able to help support this family financially. And because of the money problem, I start to wonder if I am husband or father, or anything good at all. Money is the sickness of our hearts. It is the sole cause of any depression that exists where no tragedy has occurred. Because of money I did something yesterday that I thought I would never do. I went out peddling my books all over three counties. I took a day to do it. I had to ask my wife to take off from work. I borrowed a car. It had an American flag attached out the back window waving “I am tasteless” to the cold, bright December morning.
I drove to every bookstore and library in Central New York. By the end of the day I sold to three stores and involuntarily donated one set to a library. I walked up to the head librarian embracing my precious books. He received me quite cordially. Of course then I expected him to escort me over to the money box and pay me for my efforts. No way. Patiently I waited while he talked about the lack of arts and culture in the Mohawk Valley. “One bookstore,” he complained, “in a county of 250,000. Can you believe it?” Yes I thought, but here, let me put my hand out again, palm up, and hope that you get the hint. Nothing. Instead he stepped into his office and came out grasping the local swap sheet, suggesting that I advertise my books with the used cars. Then he offered me a book signing, but recanted, saying that in the past those only worked well with children’s book authors. Then I imagined that he would prefer to ram the heel of his boot against my skull rather than pay me the paltry sum necessary to justify my existence as a writer. Culture or no culture. I should have killed him on the spot and fished through the petty cash box myself.
Now the thought of peddling my own books was and is a personal nightmare. Total desperation made me do it. Man will succumb to anything when the money is tight enough to cheat his own children. Except work at a dollar store. No. I won’t do that. So what if an offer has already been made…? No. I will very calmly open up an artery before dehumanizing my existence at a dollar store.
After a day driving in and around Syracuse New York, I discovered the worst hole in all of the world to raise a sane family. You drive around for a full morning in it, penniless, in a borrowed car and see for yourself what an incurably sick and twisted, groaning hell of a city it is. Two of the bookstores on my list of ten were abandoned. Two more sold only pornography. Two were consignment, and the second one of these wouldn’t take my books unless he could get the whole set for fifteen cents.
Yesterday I lived the life of a traveling salesman in America. Except I was selling a product which I made myself. Of course one couldn’t eat my product—strike one. Nor was it something quite like holly leaf wrapping paper sold at a huge profit for charity. Strike two. Encyclopedias might have brought better luck, if I went door-to-door with the volumes I researched, wrote and published myself. Strike three and out. Actually lying prone in a basement beside a gassed Willy Loman.
A few years ago my chef left the restaurant business to peddle oyster crackers for an upstart company. Up before dawn, he drove his car over two hundred miles every day except Sunday. Boxes of light, airy oyster crackers stacked to the ceiling in the back seat. He peddled throughout a business world that he convinced himself was in sufficient need of better oyster crackers. The best oyster crackers. In fact, over time, he couldn’t understand how restaurants stayed in business without his delicious oyster crackers in stock.
Once he got me to try them, while he stood at my side waiting for affirmation. Holy God, the ironic, blind arrogance of despair! Every time he said “oyster cracker” I envisioned spiraling rounds of slow-motion bullets busting out the back of my skull. His behavior was beyond delusional. It was insane, maniacal—an oyster cracker… Jesus Christ! Yet I played along, chewing for his benefit, although at the time I felt like striking him down and stuffing his mouth full of oyster crackers. He wanted to sell them to everyone. He was preaching the Word about oyster crackers. Each book that I wrote and got published, no matter what value its content, was written with the dreams that appear while walking alone at night in fear of death. I collaborated and created with the body which houses my soul. It was all that I had then, and all I have now. For $12.95 I will share its story with you. That’s all the Word I know.
You say sure? As long as it’s told over a bowl of steaming hot seafood chowder? Fine. Just try to ignore the steady stream of bullets drilling holes into my head. Promise me you’ll crush those crackers quickly and take the soup onto your lap. I’m spilling blood.
Why this staunch, masochistic refusal to become equally excited over my own creations? How can man live a whole life never to stand up and lustily sing his own praises? Even if he foolishly sings to some greater power beyond him… It has got to be more stimulating than worshiping oyster crackers, right? I mean, how could my old boss become the apostle of a dry cracker company without having committed suicide yet? Hasn’t he already gone way beyond the point of just considering it? Unless the crackers are laced with enough extra preservatives to fool the rest of us into thinking that he lives, I tell you that he must be dead already. A soul must die each moment an oyster cracker gets believed in.
To tell the truth, I hate my books. I despise them. I hate the product that I wanted to sell yesterday, during a weak moment when I thought my children needed toys for Christmas.
Privately, however, I intend to sing my praises while the rest of mankind watches me bleed. But I won’t be singing for your money. I will sing, but know that I know it’s not what I write into books that makes me praise-worthy. I am 100% man. I am a man. My blood heats up my wonder and desire. I can be squeezed until warm blood spurts out of my pours. But I will continue to sing while bleeding. I believe that every man’s blood is my own blood. And every man should sing the song of watching it flow. I am singing for me and for you, even if I know that you, if given the choice, would choose a low-sodium oyster cracker over the intactness of my blood and its systems. Translated into easy, easy easy…
You suck
my blood.
But would rather have an oyster cracker.

Last Communion

Cookbook For The Poor

Leopold Courting Rose

Moonlight in Groundspruce Woods