25 January 2015


A shopping list
Of complaints-
The new wife.

18 January 2015

16 January 2015

Boko Haram, beauty of the beast

Such a beautiful image taken by Samuel James for the NYT of a Boko Haram fighter leaves me breathless. The trail of wanton, and ruthless destruction in Nigeria is hard to fathom from this clean and peaceful home near the Pacific ocean. 

12 January 2015

Je suis Charlie, but maybe not too much, really....

Je suis Charlie, but maybe not too much, really....

It has to be said after all the emotions have died down, that Charlie Hebdo has been a newspaper hated by every Government as well as the Church, Mosque, and Synagogue. I rarely ever bought it myself, but would read it with fascination when I had to wait around the garage for my car to be finished. It was a sort of visual delight found among the usually boring variety of weeklies on a doctor's waiting room table. But it has what the French call 'une gueule' which is to say a 'strong character'. Fantastic graphics, as one can see from these covers.  And wit! What deliciously disturbed interrogations aimed at below our bourgeois belts!

In America, it would have been firebombed years ago by radical Christian fundamentalists,.. or right wing Zionists,.. or Islamists... Somebody like Timothy McVeigh for sure. As we know, many of us living abroad, Americans don't like this sort of ironic humor, c'est franchement trop! 

Charlie Hebdo clearly hated the hypocrisies of religious hierarchy, any religion in fact, and for that, I love them. But they are a French invention, and I cannot believe that they would have been tolerated in more Anglican-Christian cultures like the USA or Australia. Their humor goes back to Moliere after all. 

And, here in Australia, which recently endured its own brush with a kind of political terrorism, one which more closely resembled a fringe lunatic than a trained warrior from Yemen but a murderer nonetheless. And yet, I cannot imagine that Australia would have permitted, nor accepted Charlie Hebdo here any more than in America. Here, Political Correctness grows like weeds.  And, it often drives away any engagement with the dirty, visceral windows through which we still need to look into in order to find the elusive truth separating 'Them from Us', 'Us from Them', whatever these things really are.
As a progressive society (as Australia certainly is) many offensive ideas (to some) are still barred from real public discourse. 

We need to be careful not to hide behind the 'cliché' of free speech while most of us secretly still reserve such politically-correct notions of what we deem appropriate or not in the public domain. What might be hurtful to some or simply funny to others. After all, what others think of me isn't my problem, its their problem. And, ultimately, it is only what I think of me which counts.

The late editors of Charlie Hebdo would have really hated this sort of political correctness. So, yes, maybe 'Je suis Charlie' but maybe not, too.

Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, said the other night on television that he 'approved' of the newest cover  (out with much fanfare) in France the other day showing Prophet Muhammad, with tears in his eyes, weeping. The caption above read: "Tout est pardonné"
(all is forgiven). The irony of this new cover went completely by the Prime Minister who seemed to take it literally, Ha Ha. 

(On of my favorite covers)

11 January 2015


                                                                    11 January 2015
The frangipani 
Leaving snowflakes
In summer.

08 January 2015


Looking at these awful images of a policeman being executed at close range made me wonder if radical fundamentalism isn't the only killer here.  I wonder if video gaming hasn't contributed in making it so much easier to simply blow 'someone away' with a click of the thumb. Sadly, as the French say, it is an amalgam of two mindless behaviors. But  then,  in fact, these guys are just street criminals and thugs.

Below, Twitter world is ablaze with praise for this murderous act, alas.

from the New York Times
Twitter user who calls himself Abu Obaida al-Libi, borrowing an alias used by militants who have been killed in Libya or Syria, shared a photograph that appeared to show one of the Paris attackers pointing an automatic rifle at a victim, with the hashtag in Arabic, #WeAvengedTheProphet.
In another tweet, the same user hailed “a powerful operation in France” against “a paper known for its abuse of Islam” and said, “The next is worse.”
Many tweets seemed to indicate sympathy for the attack from people who admire the Islamic State extremist group, rather than any knowledge that that group was specifically responsible for the attack. One user seeking to draw a link posted a picture of a man wearing a many-pocketed khaki vest and said, “One of the brothers is wearing the Adnani ammunition vest. You pleased our hearts, one of the attackers is saying ‘God is Great’ (Allahu Akbar) in the middle of Paris.” (Abu Mohammad al-Adnani is an ISIS leader and spokesman who has been photographed in such a vest.)
An account that appeared to support Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also celebrated the attack, saying that those who insult the Prophet Mohammad deserve death: “Being executed was the light punishment. Next comes eternity in the #Hellfire.”

06 January 2015

Beth Moon

Here are photos by Beth Moon who travels the world searching out the earth's oldest trees.

03 January 2015

Monterosso, Cinque Terre (happy new year part 2)

By the end of a session just before twilight, I had finished a medium sized picture of this peninsular meeting the sea and air. I wasn't happy but suddenly the sun crashed down into the sea, and it seemed like all hell broke loose. The sea had become a violent answer to the sky-shattering sunset above. I had not the time to mix new colors, I used what was left on the palette to almost scrub onto a very small canvas this tremendous display of clouds and sea, in fact. It was a scene for Turner, but I made what I could of it, and have treasured it ever since. I think I made it in 1988 (circa) when I had stopped to pass a few days with Francois De Asis on my way to Siena.  

Received the following from a painter in Paris Juliette Lemontey:

26 December 2014

l'air de rien #194 (Marseille et Le Marais) Happy Christmas!

l'air de rien #194 (Marseille et Le Marais) from cloudsandsea on Vimeo.

Because of a new copyright issue I was not able to credit Keith Jarrett at the end of this little video as I normally do. So I acknowledge it in this space outside of Vimeo. Thank You Keith Jarrett for Don't ever
leave me.

22 December 2014


The apricot tree
Overloaded, and begging 
For Relief.

21 December 2014


Heres a prayer
For the mother whose small chicks
Fell from their nest.

16 December 2014

Jackson Pollock, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Ian Fairweather and John Olsen

Curious to say the least, looking at these images together. The top two are Pollack, the third is by Emily Kame Kngwarreye (who began painting when she was 80 years old) the next three paintings are by Ian Fairweather, and the last is by John Olsen. All these painters  are Australian except Pollock. 

Initially, I was interested in just placing two images (Pollock and Emily) but then one of my favorite of Fairweather crept in, then  another and another. Olsen was added at the end.

These are images which share a great reverence for spatial unity. This is a very 20th century idea but one which can also be related to many images from previous centuries but this is more complicated to explain.

In the meantime, enjoy!

15 December 2014

Thorsten von Overgaard in Rome with a Leica

A Life With Leica from Northpass Media on Vimeo.

on the contemplation of suffering

I met this poor dog in the heart of Katamandu a few years ago. And, I met some pretty sad-looking creatures there during that visit. Between all the apparent human suffering in Nepal it seemed almost ludicrous for me to focus on the dogs of Katmandu, but that is what happened. I ended up just taking photos of dogs everywhere. Not many people had much sympathy for them, probably because being a Buddhist country they believed that dogs were payback for earlier lives lived in sin or sumptuous decadence. In any event I became obsessed and was on the lookout for them. I heard of a western woman who had created a sanctuary for them but I never met her. My friend who lived in Katmandu told me that her house was teeming with all sorts of dogs and cats in various stages of hospitalization and recovery. Rolling her eyes, she described seeing one dog which was missing its back legs and was scooting around on a skateboard. 

This poor thing (pictured above) broke my heart completely. Two of its legs which had ben broken had evidently set at odd angles so it hobbled around in a kind of stoic daze. I managed to find a small 'store' and picked up boxes of dry crackers which I mixed with water in my hand to feed it. It was delirious with delight, but of course I had to walk away afterward, quietly weeping all the way back to where I was staying. 

Thus, I have never quite forgotten this little dog (his photos are on my desktop) which seemed to have accepted its own condition with stoic resolve. If only I could learn this for myself as I contemplate "my own suffering" and that of so many others around me in the western world. How does one survive the great pains of Life only to be swallowed up by our own suffering, and adding our own story to it, which as the old wise guys say, is optional.

Welcome to Christmas. 

12 December 2014

fire truck

The small girl in pink
Imitates the fire truck
Wa wa wa wa wa.

10 December 2014

Einstein on God

'I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.

I am not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must  have written those books. it does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't knowwhat it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.'

07 December 2014

Katy Perry and Vincent Van Gogh!

I watched a documentary on Katy Perry this week and found myself bewitched by her crazy and likable personality. Yes, its bubble gum pop and show business but I understand why she has captured so much adulation with her young fans. She touches them. I cannot really judge the music as it is way out of my cultural realm but I am sure that she has enormous poetic talent. What intrigued me is that she is so successful precisely because she has touched so many young kids. She gets them, they get her. They love her just as much as they love her music.
And after watching this documentary I can understand. She is a live wire of eccentric joy and angst, an iconoclast in a conservative and conforming world. She is really unlike so much else out there, and she doesn't try to be anyone else like the corporate music industry demanded.

Anyway, I write about her because the 'commodity of her music' is the opposite of the commodity of the Contemporary Art market.
The people today who buy pieces (over a certain price) are only in it for speculation, and most  probably oblivious to, or uninterested in even liking the work itself. It is an object, 'a commodity', like a treasury bond; a bar of gold, certainly an asset class in itself. 

And, as a painter who travels alone in a world of  obsessional research, the work is often particular, and hopefully original. The audience for painting is tiny and limited to other obsessional people who wish to live with a pictorial poetry. Who really likes painting nowadays? Who needs painting? What is painting, in fact? And, who are the fans (to put it into laymen's terms)? The painter himself, cannot indulge in any illusions about his own social importance because there is none realistically speaking. He/(she) plods ahead like a poet to paper into the unknown guided only by the mysterious scent of possibility. For most there is no fan base. So, I return to my amazement at the way Pop works in our culture today. Katy Perry and her work are both adored.

04 December 2014

Judith Scott

I had never heard of this incredible little, stooped woman who died a few years ago. Her acceptance and success in the Art world asks many to think hard about what it means to 'be an artist' or 'to live creatively'. I haven't a clue, but I love that she made these strange and personal pieces, and I am moved by her. There is so much 'Art' made by so many 'overly-educated' yet, under-cultured and eager people wishing either to make a buck or find meaning for themselves in a complicated world. Judith was shielded by all those complications.

30 November 2014

John Carter of Mars

I know,... I know, yes, it was panned by the press when it came out, and it was ridiculed by many, but I take the contrarian view after watching it the other night. Expecting a joke, I was pleasantly surprised because, as a crazy film adventure, it actually works in an even crazier way. I think it is saved by its own natural camp, and its lack of any pretension which seems to haunt so many sci-fi films of recent years. Nor does it suffer from that moronic sentimentality which plagued The Lord of the Rings (and neither, does it generate a headache from so much CGI (computer generated graphics) which left me feeling dizzy and cheapened watching it).

I could never make it through Star Wars so many years ago because I also found it so moronic but in that dreadfully smug Hollywood kind of way. It had a kind of antiseptic chilliness about it which never touched me.  
Too very slick like so much from Hollywood. And yet, I know that the story was supposed to be one of heroic Greek stuff lauded by the great Joseph Campbell, but, non! non! de tout!

Now, John Carter does not pretend to be a anything but a romp; a weird campy lark between comic book pages so unabashedly stolen from another era completely. The story is so wacky that it actually works. It manages to pass through unscathed, that delicate and surreal zone which can make or brake our tolerance in Sci-Fi. I found myself completely unhinged from reality after just 10 minutes into it. Embracing its abstraction it stays true to its B-movie integrity. I think what really saves it from many possible disasters is that the main characters play it cool and, they have a certain likable charisma, not a wink, but a subtle smile to the audience (and each other) as if to say: "Isn't this pretty wild and crazy?" without an cheekiness visible.

So, my advice is to watch it with the kids, or just alone, with a large bowl of chocolate ice cream, fudge, and sprinkles on top.

29 November 2014


Sometimes I wonder-
Do I want to plant palms trees
Or be painting them?

25 November 2014

morning piano

Summer crickets
Keep time with the metronome-
The morning piano.

21 November 2014

Emilio Ambasz (architect 1943- )

"In reality, some images or drawings have a greater impact than many buildings that are built."

13 November 2014

Giacometti's Comet....(!)

A remarkable achievement landing a 7X7 foot spacecraft on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. And what photographs taken from the mother ship 'Rosetta'! (These come from the NYTimes article today)

In the lower photo is the comet, and the tiny speck of white to the right is the lander named 'Philae' (after the Egyptian island below Luxor I presume, and Rosetta after the small city north of Alexandria).

To travel all that way only to find Giacometti(!)