Oswego

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.

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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

My Hand Is Dry Like A California Pancake

My Hand Is Dry Like A California Pancake

You can see how my winter in Oswego ends so poorly. What a heavy climb it is. Yesterday a March storm dropped a clean white blanket upon us. I woke up happy again, a feeling I hadn’t felt in three months. I called it holiday cheer. If the spring wouldn’t come, at least I was able to rewind winter’s tragedy to its innocent beginnings. While making crepes for breakfast I started to sing “It’s Lovely Weather For a Sleigh Ride Together With You”. In March, singing Christmas carols. Did January and February ever happen? “Where is this coming from?” I wondered. “Have I been asleep all winter?”
More proof to my theory that if man chooses to keep the northland his habitat, he needs to hibernate like the animals. Have I not been practically asleep since January? A rough slumber for sure. My head itched. I got dry scalp and dandruff. My skin got pale. I ate twice as much. I started to think low thoughts. I couldn’t fit into my jeans. Rarely did I step outside. From time to time I glanced out my window to see all life still asleep. I was pushing back despair. I was fighting to stay awake. Why bother? What was there to keep awake for?

Those months were wrong. Everything else was wise enough to play dead. Why must man be so cocky about everything? Even life? Why must he force himself to persevere these terrible winters, when, year after year, he should just curl up and sleep through them instead?
I believe the Oswego man in collaboration with the Santa Barbara man should offer their skulls up to science after death. It would be an interesting and revealing comparison to prove my following hypothesis: Neanderthal is alive and degraded in Oswego, N.Y. Homo Sapien, the thinking man, cheerfully resides in warmer climes, like Santa Barbara. I predict a noticeable difference in shape and structure between the skulls of the two beasts.
The skull of the Oswego man will show a squarer jaw and flatter top, the latter enabling him to properly balance enough weight up there to impede even the most stubborn dream to get up and leave. The Santa Barbara man will show a more rounded skull and less pronounced jowl, most likely shrunken from the advantage of a winter of fresh vegetables to eat and thick green summer grass to cushion his walk.
The jaw of the Oswego man has sixty-two very sharp teeth. Used to tear meat and appear mean even while whimpering like a sad puppy over his supermarket kill. Over a lifetime many of these teeth wore away and needed to be replaced, probably due to the beast’s high intake of New York Strip Steak in winter. The Santa Barbara man has six teeth, one for each small cup of foraged food he took in daily.
The orbital cavities of the skulls bear a marked difference as well. The Oswego man’s are larger, reamed out after many years of winter’s rot on the eyes. This peculiarity happens when a Northern man closes the lids over the eyes too often. Without a pleasant world to look upon, the eyes are purposely kept without sun or exercise. They begin to rot behind the lids, and the rot spreads into the skull bone, evidenced by two significant cracks splitting down past either side of the nose. One good jolt in life would have resulted in Oswego man’s face falling off. Fortunately he was rarely moved, neither by earthquake nor inspiration.
The eye holes of the Santa Barbara man are smaller, showing no evidence of life rot. Most likely the result of a lifetime of keeping his eyes wide open to the sun. A strong squint strengthened the muscle and bone around the eye, to give Santa Barbara man a more secure possession of his face.
In conclusion, this scientist casts measurable doubt upon his own sanity. Being an Oswego man half his life, and a northern man forever, he believes the life rot has already begun to eat into his skull. Therefore, suffering this condition makes it impossible for him to carry out a decent hypothesis, scientifically. So instead he has left both skulls in the middle of the street for the snowplows to crush.