With only a few days before I leave for Mumbai, I’m busily preparing for a productive month.  Among other things I hope to accomplish, there’s going to be a lot of drawing going on! I’m looking forward to spending some time on the waterfront and in the oldest remnants of the last remaining villages in the city.

One conundrum: how much of my studio goes with me?  I can definitely get all the supplies I need in India, but do I want to spend weeks running around rounding things up that I’ve already got here?  Or do I want to drag a whole lot of material halfway around the world?

I guess it will be a mix.  Today I’m gessoing panels and wrapping them for easy transport.

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Life is a Whirlwind (In a Whole Lot of Ways).

It’s been a ridiculous and hectic fall.  First I found out I’d been awarded a residency in Mumbai (which is fantastic and I’m planning on being very excited about it as soon as I have time). And then there was a hurricane.  And a nor’easter.  Squished together.  The storm completely wiped out the ground floor of my institution.  The museum is unharmed, but all of our money-making facilities were inundated.  It’s an unmitigated disaster, and reconstruction is going to take a long time.  There’s a fundraiser here until December 2, and donations can be made here.

But in the meantime, here I am still trying to make more work before I leave for India!  And I’m framing and wrapping pieces to go into the various shows I’m a part of in December.  So when it rains it pours!

Two December Shows Before I Leave:

I’m pleased to say that one of my newest pieces will in in a show at Recession Art on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, opening December 19.  That piece is a mixed media work on canvas and acrylic called “Ilf & Petrov/Occupy”.  It’s a part of my “palimpsest” series – works on canvas, bound into their frames, with drawings on acrylic suspended in front of them.  In these paintings, I’m taking two unrelated texts and positioning them over top one another so that they interact (visually as well as intellectually).  The idea is to see how words and images relate within a work and to experiment with how various marks create meaning in conversation.  The piece that’s going into this show has a map of a trip taken by Soviet authors Evgeny Petrov and Ilya Ilf  across the United States  in 1930’s above the text from the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Manifesto.  The map shows the trip that was the basis of Ilf and Petrov’s 1936 travelogue, “Little Golden America”.  The Occupy Manifesto is an interesting text, partly because it is so clear about its aims, and partly because it’s really not a foundational document, since that movement tends to be based on actions more than words.

The other show is at Brooklyn Fireproof, which I have to admit I don’t know much about, and is called “The New America: A Vanishing Landscape“.  The works in that show are both landscape drawings of my beloved Coney Island, one from 2008 and the other from 2011.  It sounds like its going to be a nice show, even if it is quite short.  The show is up from December 6-8, with an opening reception on December 7 from 6-9pm.  Come find me there!



A trip inside the mind of an artist.



At the same time that I’m still trying to explore this idea of palimpsests, I’ve been working on a new series of paintings.  The idea came to me as I was driving back from a visit to Sigrid Sarda’s studio in New Palz.  Sigrid is so interesting and her studio is such a mindfuck that I thought, “I really want to write a review of this studio visit.”  Like an art critical essay.  Like a meditation on my brief time inside Sigrid’s head.  But I’m not really all that excited by adding to the world of art reviews I have to say.  And I’m really focused on making art right now.  So it seemed like the right thing to do to combine these things into one endeavor.

So a new series was born!  And the first painting in that series is happily sitting in a gallery in Jersey City waiting for people to look at it.  I’m very pleased about that turn of events I have to say.

I’ll get some photos of this series up as soon as I can.

So go see the show.  It’s at Curious Matter, it’s called “Dangerous Toys”, and it runs until November 11.


Roger Fenton, Valley of The Shadow of Death. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

I read Lawrence Weschler’s interview with Errol Morris on the subway this morning.  It’s always great to listen in on two interesting and esoteric minds conversing.  I appreciated a lot of the insights they dug out of each other.
One thing that struck me though is how much public conversations about photography have changed – even in the last 5 years. Now that digital photography is ubiquitous, even non-specialists have to talk about photography with a digital twist – a shift that Morris and Weschler seem to have skipped.  At this point, any conversation that’s mostly a reaction to Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes seems a little quaint to me.  Not that I blame them – it used to be a lot more fun to think about photography as a special medium.  Sadly, this just isn’t the same technology Sontag and Barthes were writing about.  But it would be wonderful to hear these two super-smart guys talk about digital technology representing the input from light-sensing arrays and the potential of software hacks for recording different realities than the photographic ones  Nicéphore Niépce and Roger Fenton recorded.
One moment in the interview that I really loved was when Weschler said, “For all the variety of your subject matter, I think you are essentially a hedgehog—and in fact a turbo-hedgehog, a pneumatic drill of a hedgehog. You just dig and dig and dig. You are like an archeologist of photography.”

I’m excited to say that I’ll be spending a month in Bombay this winter.  I’ve been talking to the Dr. Bhau Daji Ladd Museum about collaborating on a project with them and thinking about ways to get the quality time I really need to research and write for that.  So lucky for me a group called Last Ship offers a studio residency to international artists in Bandra.  I’m really looking forward to working alongside other visual artists from around the world in one of the last remnants of the little fisher villages that used to line Bombay’s shores.  My plan is to spend time drawing the landscape and built environment while I do research into India of the 1930’s – so I can compare and contrast that history with the Great Depression in the US as well as the current economic landscape.

Should be amazing!


While I can’t say I’m completely awed by the way the Brooklyn Museum set up this two-day open studio walk, I can say that it’s been fun so far.  Surprisingly enough, there has been a steady stream of new faces and ideas coming through my studio since 11 this morning.  I’m very pleased with the way people are responding to certain aspects of my work – notable the transparency, the complexity, and the use of text.

So yes, I’m pleasantly surprised by the whole thing and looking forward to more of it tomorrow.


After having completed the Cosmorama of the Great Dreamland Fire last summer and lived with it for a year, I finally put some of my thoughts about what it means, where it came from, and how closely associated it is with my Dad into a 10-page, hand-bound book.  It’s for sale in Coney Island.



The book was one of the really enjoyable parts of this project and I think it should be something I do for every installation piece I make.


Here’s a nice confluence of my professional/artistic interests and the fun times I have with artistic friends. For the last 3 months or so, Zoe Beloff has been doing a really wonderful project in downtown Manhattan entitled “Days of the Commune“.  Deborah and I have been participating as actors, both because it agrees with our politics, and because I’ve been more and more interested in theater these days (see the 2012 Congress of Curious People for more on that).

Well it turns out that Zoe was not the first producer to bring the Paris Commune to the streets of New York.  In fact, Coney Island’s own Paine’s Fireworks did a monumental rendition of the story of the Commune in 1904 in Coney Island.  Of course.

And I’m sure no expense was spared!


Photo by JohnBurke, Courtesy Flickr


– noun 1. device for making photographs

in camera
– idiom 1. privately

off camera
– idiom 1. out of the range of a television or motion-picture camera

on camera
– idiom 1. being filmed or televised by a live camera

1700–10; < L camera vaulted room, vault < Gk kamára vault; see chamber

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.

I’d really like to see a virtual reality ride that’s not so typically disappointing.

But who wants to enter that rat-race? There’s no such thing as meeting the hype in the amusement industry. No one makes attractions that are better than they look from the outside. The best anyone seems to be able to do is make you forget what they sold you on the outside while you’re experiencing what you actually bought.

Maybe we need to make something that’s completely different inside than it ought to be? Or that’s better on the inside because it’s not very appealing on the outside. What would that look like?

What Coney Island needs is a giant camera. And I mean that in the sense of a vaulted room. I wish we had a dark ride that felt like a cathedral. Or a grotto. A throw back to another time maybe.

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