Saturday, April 26, 2008

Across the Street

I was sitting out on my porch last week and started thinking about how people drift by out on the sidewalk. It seemed that after an hour, the view was populated with recent ghosts--the people who had just walked, scootered, and biked by. This made me think how false a single still image can be--no news there, that was settled last century. So I decided to photoshop in as many figures as I could from a couple of hours worth of pictures (about a hundred) done on last Sunday evening from about 5:30 to 7:00. All of the people are inserted exactly where they were in the scene. Everyone who walked by was alone, with a dog or child, or with one other person. Some people made return trips in the opposite direction.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To Jewishness

Here's my picture To Jewishness on the cover of a book! It's an English composition textbook published by Bedford/St. Martin's. The writing on the cup and background is a poem by Kenneth Koch. See below for a similar poem from the book New Addresses. The actual poem I used is called To Jewishness, Paris, Ambition, Trees, My Heart, and Destiny. I did the picture in 2004, shortly after Koch died. I was looking for a way to incorporate writing into a picture. My solution to this cornball-prone impulse was to make the writing illegible and the object graphically strong. Koch is one of my favorite poets--crazily inventive, funny, direct, and smart.


New Addresses

To Jewishness

As you were contained in
Or embodied by
Louise Schlossman
When she was a sophomore
At Walnut Hills
High School
In Cincinnati, Ohio,
I salute you
And thank you
For the fact
That she received
My kisses with tolerance
On New Year's Eve
And was not taken aback
As she well might have been
Had she not had you
And had I not, too.
Ah, you!
Dark, complicated you!
Jewishness, you are the tray
On it painted
Moses, David and the Ten
Commandments, the handwriting
On the Wall, Daniel
In the lions' den
On which my childhood
Was served
By a mother
And father
Who took you
To Michigan
Oh the soft smell
Of the pine
Trees of Michigan
And the gentle roar
Of the Lake! Michigan
Or sent you
To Wisconsin
I went to camp there
On vacation, with me
Every year!
My counselors had you
My fellow campers
Had you and "Doc
Ehrenreich" who
Ran the camp had you
We got up in the
Mornings you were there
You were in the canoes
And on the baseball
Diamond, everywhere around.
At home, growing
Taller, you
Thrived, too. Louise had you
And Charles had you
And Jean had you
And her sister Mary
Had you
We all had you
And your Bible
Full of stories
That didn't apply
Or didn't seem to apply
In the soft spring air
Or dancing, or sitting in the cars
To anything we did.
In "religious school"
At the Isaac M. Wise
Synagogue (called "temple")
We studied not you
But Judaism, the one who goes with you
And is your guide, supposedly,
Oddly separated
From you, though there
In the same building, you
In us children, and it
On the blackboards
And in the books Bibles
And books simplified
From the Bible. How
Like a Bible with shoulders
Rabbi Seligmann is!
You kept my parents and me
Out of hotels near Crystal Lake
In Michigan and you resulted, for me,
In insults,
At which I felt
Chagrined but
Was energized by you.
You went with me
Into the army, where
One night in a foxhole
On Leyte a fellow soldier
Said Where are the fuckin Jews?
Back in the PX. I d like to
See one of those bastards
Out here. I d kill him!
I decided to conceal
You, my you, anyway, for a while.
Forgive me for that.
At Harvard you
Landed me in a room
In Kirkland House
With two other students
Who had you. You
Kept me out of the Harvard Clubs
And by this time (I
Was twenty-one) I found
I preferred
Kissing girls who didn t
Have you. Blonde
Hair, blue eyes,
And Christianity (oddly enough) had an
Aphrodisiac effect on me.
And everything that opened
Up to me, of poetry, of painting, of music,
Of architecture in old cities
Didn t have you
I was
Though I knew
Those who had you
Had hardly had the chance
To build cathedrals
Write secular epics
(Like Orlando Furioso)
Or paint Annunciations—"Well
I had David
in the wings." David
Was a Jew, even a Hebrew.
He wasn't Jewish.
You're quite
Something else. I had Mahler,
Einstein, and Freud. I didn't
Want those three (then). I wanted
Shelley, Byron, Keats, Shakespeare,
Mozart, Monet. I wanted
Botticelli and Fra Angelico.
"There you've
Chosen some hard ones
For me to connect to. But
Why not admit that I
Gave you the life
Of the mind as a thing
To aspire to? And
Where did you go
To find your 'freedom'? to
New York, which was
Full of me." I do know
Your good qualities, at least
Good things you did
For me—when I was ten
Years old, how you brought
Judaism in, to give ceremony
To everyday things, surprise and
Symbolism and things beyond
Understanding in the
Synagogue then I
Was excited by you, a rescuer
Of me from the flatness of my life.
But then the flatness got you
And I let it keep you
And, perhaps, of all things known,
That was most ignorant. "You
Sound like Yeats, but
You re not. Well, happy
Voyage home, Kenneth, to
The parking lot
Of understood experience. I'll be
Here if you need me and here
After you don t
Need anything else. HERE is a quality
I have, and have had
For you, and for a lot of others,
Just by being it, since you were born."

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Here's another picture arranged in color order. (Click on image to make it bigger.)

Friday, April 18, 2008


For the eight panels above, I google-image searched for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and pink, one color for each panel. The last image, which is all text, is the title of the piece, a compilation of all the file names I found.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Art and Text, Ellensburg, WA

Here's the announcement for a show I'm in at Gallery One Visual Arts Center, Ellensburg, Washington. It's curated by Robert Tomlinson. I met him at photolucida last year and we hit it off. The show runs from May 2, 2008 through June 28, 2008. Visit for more information. My picture is the one of the two light bulbs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

108 Laurels

This is my thank you note to Laurel Ptak, the curator of "Is it possible to make a photograph of New Jersey regardless of where you are in the World?" at the Pierro Gallery in South Orange, New Jersey. That's Laurel in the center, and everybody else in the picture is named Laurel, except for the laurel wreaths, which are laurels. (detail above, complete picture below)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Triumph of Ptak

I was at the opening of Laurel Ptak's show at the Pierro Gallery in New Jersey yesterday. Aside from my work, the show was terrific and Laurel was stellar. More later.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Luxury Color People

All these people are named Gold or Silver. I'm going to do a special deluxe edition of Luxury Color People using real gold leaf instead of what you see here--found images from a gilding supplier. I think this whole project might end up being named Color People.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Color People

Here's another picture (and detail) in my series about color. These people are Color People because their names are the names of colors. I might call the whole series Color People, in which case this piece would be called Joseph Maroon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Is it possible to make a photograph of New Jersey from anywhere in the world?

I've got a picture in this show. It will be pretty big (40 x 80 inches), so I'm going to NJ to see it and meet Laurel, the curator of the show. My entry is New Jersey Teams (above). The show sounds like a great and funny idea. Can't wait to see it.

Is it possible to make a photograph of New Jersey from anywhere in the world?
April 6 - May 25, 2008
Guest Curator: Laurel Ptak (
Opening reception: April 6, 3:00-5:00

Baird Center
5 Mead St.
South Orange, New Jersey.