March 31st is the birthday of Cesar Chavez, which is a state holiday only in California, Texas and Colorado. He dedicated his life to creating an organization to protect and serve farm workers whose poverty he once had shared. Chavez was a second generation American, born in 1927, near his family's farm in Yuma, Ariz. He passed in 1993. Chavez was active as a labor leader and civil rights activist in the 1960s and 70s, when he cofounded what became the United Farm Workers Union. Chavez is credited with organizing the first successful farm workers union in American history. The efforts of the union brought about the passage of the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act to protect farm workers. Today, it remains the only law in the nation that protects the rights of farm workers to unionize. In 2003 he was honored with a first-class stamp, shown at right, which features a portrait of him in front of a field of grapes. (He is best known for leading boycotts of grapes and lettuce to gain awareness of the farm workers' plight.) The portrait was painted by illustrator Robert Rodriguez from a 1976 photo. I honor Cesar Chavez for his courage and vision, and also because we may share some DNA, my maternal grandmother's maiden name was Onofré Chavez.
To learn more about Cesar Chavez click:
"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I was in school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy.' They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."
In response to the proposed budget cuts to the arts and humanities, and other educational, social and environmental programs, I've been wearing an old t-shirt I have, titled: Art Lives. It is a send up of the Beatles' 1967 Sgt Peppers album cover, with John, Paul, George, Ringo and their entourage replaced with a myriad of art and artists from the Venus of Willendorf to Edvard Munch's The Scream. Yes, my sentiments exactly! It is one small way to show your support for the arts! The t-shirt is available through Wildwood Productions at: http://www.wildwoodproductions.com/home.jsp
Disclaimer: In case you were wondering, I do not endorse or receive any compensation from this company.
But it is a totally cool shirt!
Cold, windy and rainy...
It was a great day to stay inside and paint!
The result is another in the veil series... I love it when there is actually atmosphere. A gauzy effect rarely seen here in dry as a bone Colorado. The raindrops were adhering to the studio's north facing windows, creating a stipple effect against the low hanging overcast skies and the spring green and pastels of the newly leafing and flowering thees. When I was at the atelier in Boston, we worked strictly under north light. No artificial lighting was allowed. It was so overcast some days, we weren't able to work. Days like this make me feel very inner directed. And sometimes what's on the inside... just wants to come out! So, I give you: Veil Squares, 12x12 acrylic on canvas sheet. Available for $200.
At left is the work in progress. I was inspired by the atmosphere outside to double and triple glaze the 'veil' to create a more floaty effect, giving the squares a less precise whereabouts. Kind of like the 'truths' coming out of Washington, DC these days.
Veil Circles 1 is my latest in the Veil Series. It was created with free floating circles rather than an overlaying grid of stripes, a less formalist, improvisational composition. Veil Circles 1 is a 12x12 acrylic on a canvas sheet. Available at $200.
"And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring"
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Above is my painting: Crocus pushing through the Snow, 6x7", acrylic on gessoed museum board. Available.
"Your feet will bring you
where your heart is."
-- Happy St. Patrick's Day!
We have had some pretty interesting atmospheric phenomenon here in Denver the past couple weeks. The jet stream has been pushing the weather patterns to the north and east of us and creating newsworthy storms on the east coast and upper mid-west, while its been relatively mild here. In addition to snowing while the sun was shining, another effect I've seen recently is a Circumhorizontal Arc, which is caused by sunlight, and sometimes moonlight, refracting off plate-shaped ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, typically in cirrus and cirrostratus clouds. It is sometimes called a Fire Rainbow, but is actually in the ice halo family. Rainbows are refracted or reflected from water droplets in the sky. I usually see the arcs when I have polarized lens sunglasses on. The effect is harder to spot with the naked eye. This photo was taken from my study, facing west across the Highline Canal with an iPhone 7, (which you can see reflected in window at the lower right).
My painting: Lao Tzu - Looking Out Looking In, is now in CORE New Art Space's WOW! (Wide Open Whatever) Show. The juried exhibit runs from today, March 9th through Sunday March 26th., with the opening reception on Friday the 10th from 6-9pm. The painting depicts Mark di Suvero's iconic sculpture Lao Tzu on the Acoma Plaza. The view is 'looking out' from a 2nd story window of the Denver Public Library's central branch, observing a passerby 'looking in' to the Denver Art Museum's Palettes restaurant. Lao Tzu - Looking Out Looking In, is a 24x24 acrylic on panel and is available for $800. To learn more about CORE and the exhibit click: www.coreartspace.com
I was looking again at that powerful and hauntingly beautiful unfinished portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart that I posted on Presidents Day. We all project our own thoughts and feelings on what we are viewing, and I couldn't help but feel his strength, determination and maybe even his fatigue after his war time experiences helping birth our nation, and his terms as president. I look at those eyes and he seems to be saying across the decades, Yeh, I'm watching you Donald. On a lighter note, I thought I would post the first paid portrait that I ever did. This was after I had returned from Boston where I studied classical realism and was working at Wild Oats, which has now been absorbed by Whole Foods. (Interestingly, that little store at East Colfax and York in Denver is now Abend Gallery). The young woman pictured was a cashier there and mentioned she was looking for a gift for her mom. I offered my services, showed her my portfolio, and I'm grateful she took me up on my offer.