Tuesday, April 28, 2009

for Alex Eliot on his 90th Birthday - "Oriste!"

In Alex Eliot's marvelous essay in Frederick Franck's book, What Does it Mean to be Human?, Alex recounts his journey to the Greek region of Karoulia and his encounter with the "very holy fellow" Simon. Like many of his fellow Orthodox monks from Mount Athos, Simon retired to a cliff side residence in Karoulia. Perched high above the water, these monks spend their later years in solitude with the meeting of the sea and sky as their constant companion.

Alex was invited by a fisherman from Mount Athos, who spoke of Simon as a holy fellow, to make the journey with him by sea to visit the monk. With the fisherman's boat bobbing in the waves below, Alex climbed a series of steps carved into the rock face with only a series of chains spiked into the cliff to hold onto. The fisherman had said, "If those chains will hold you, it is as God wills" for Alex to meet with Simon. At the end of his climb, Alex explains that he lay drenched in sweat gasping like a beached fish until he felt a cool shadow break the heat and there was Simon, "sparkling eyed" with his arms spread wide, exclaiming "Oriste!" meaning "Welcome, what can I do for you!"

Forgive me if I break Alex's engaging narrative at this point. As I write these words, I am sitting in my studio surrounded by a series of new paintings inspired by a recent trip with my family to Japan. The siren of these images is calling me. And I can't help but wonder what Alex and Jane Eliot, who also traveled with their family to Japan, will think of this new work. I don't have to risk my life scaling a cliff to reach the Eliots. I just need to make my pilgrimage out my studio door and down Ocean Park Boulevard, Diebenkorn's old haunts, to Venice, California to visit this couple who always greet my friends and family with wide open arms and profound insights. Like Simon's greeting, Alex Eliot's welcoming words nourish and inspire me.

Gregg Chadwick's Studio with 13 Geisha (13芸者) - in progress

Alex Eliot will turn 90 on April 28, 2009. In his fruitful life, Alex has met with and written about the great artists of his age - Picasso and Matisse. One might think it would only be natural for a man of such wisdom and experience to be a bit haughty. Instead Alex shares the old monk Simon's gentle and generous spirit as well as his great wisdom and love for life.

While on that cliff in Karoulia, Simon offered Alex a piece of caramel candy. Alex, graciously accepted the gift and then when the monk was preoccupied, Alex, feeling that the seemingly undernourished monk needed all the calories he could get, slipped it under Simon's plate. Alex then bowed and scooted out to climb down the cliff to the boat waiting below. The sun was setting when Alex reached the fisherman who lay asleep in the boat. The sirens called. Alex disrobed and dove into the sea only to be startled by a basket hurtling down the old monk's supply cable which linked his aerie to the world. In the basket was the caramel. "My candy had come back! I put the caramel straight into my mouth and like a child once more I tasted its burnt sugar elixir right down to my toes."

And then Alex opens up to the mythosphere - "Never before in this life, possibly, had my poor spirit taken nourishment. I stood dripping upon the shore of time and Simon waved to me from eternity."

Like Simon's candy, Alex Eliot's friendship gives my poor spirit nourishment.

Let me break again from my essay to speak directly to Alex:

Alex, I thank you for your wisdom, your profound words and feelings, the inspired love that you show to your wife - Jane - and your talented children. Alex - you are a lifeline, an example, and a challenge. I am proud to be your friend.

Study for a Portrait of Alex Eliot
8"x13" oil on wood 2009

Throughout my years as I stand with my wife, MarySue, and my son, Cassiel, on the shore of time I will see Alex and Jane Eliot waving to me from eternity and exclaiming, "Oriste!"

More at:
Alex Eliot's Website
Jane Winslow Eliot's Website

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Los Angeles Times Festival Of Books at UCLA Today and Tomorrow - April 25 - 26, 2009

Author Wil Wheaton talks about writing, the sweet smell of bookstores and his Star Trek days as well as his excitement about the upcoming Star Trek film. See Wil Wheaton at UCLA today.

General Info

Saturday, April 25
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Sunday, April 26
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tickets are free!
Tickets will be available on April 19 through ticketmaster.com.
They are needed for indoor panels and speaker sessions.

Parking on the UCLA campus is $9.
Free shuttle bus services will connect the outlying UCLA parking lots with the main festival entrances.

More at:
L.A.Times Festival of Books Website

Thursday, April 23, 2009


(Click on photo to enlarge)

Springsteen and the E-Street Band cover the Ramones' "I Want to be Sedated" - Boston, April 22, 2009

Springsteen and the E-Street Band cover the Ramones' "I Want to be Sedated" - Boston, April 22, 2009

Springsteen and the E-Street Band cover the Ramones' "I Want to be Sedated" - Boston, April 22, 2009 (full song - another view)

On their current tour Springsteen and the E-Street Band are showing off their punk side. Last night in Boston, with a giddy Steve Van Zandt orchestrating the song, Springsteen and the E-Street Band covered the Ramones' "I Want to be Sedated". The video is a bit rough but in true punk form a manic energy is present. Enjoy!

Mike Ness, Springsteen and the E-Street band perform Social Distortion's "Bad Luck" - Los Angeles, April 16, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Holland Cotter awarded 2009's Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

Art writer Holland Cotter has been awarded 2009's Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

From the Pulitzer site:
The 2009 Pulitzer Prize for criticism has been "awarded to Holland Cotter of The New York Times for his wide ranging reviews of art, from Manhattan to China, marked by acute observation, luminous writing and dramatic storytelling."

Sun Zhijun/Dunhuang Academy
"Inside Mogaoku’s caves: A fifth-century painted Buddha, sprinkled with desert dust."

Holland Cotter's article from July 2008, entitled Buddha's Caves , is a nice introduction to his writing:

"Mogaoku is charmed ground. In late spring and early summer the air is fragrant, the sky a lambent blue, the desert oceanically serene. And there is the art and the soaked-in atmosphere of devotion. The place leaves strong and alluring memories in the memories of visitors; in its caretakers it inspires lifelong loyalty."

Gregg Chadwick
Sketchbook Image of "Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture" at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
pencil and wash in bound volume 10/21/08

For those of us in California, Holland Cotter's review of the Getty Museum's exhibition of Bernini's portrait sculptures was required reading:

Bernini "adhered to the Renaissance model of the artist as polymath. In addition to being a sculptor, painter and draftsman, he had a major career as an architect; was a poet, playwright and stage designer; and still found time for a scandalous love life.

"Like other successful artists of his day Bernini was both a master and a servant, a celebrity and a functionary. He could be innovative to the point of sacrilege — one thinks of his orgasmic St. Teresa, or the crazed immensity of the baldacchino over the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican — yet his invention was almost always at the service of a conservative political and religious elite. He pushed the spiritual potential of art in radical directions but was a propagandist for hire to the Church Triumphant."

Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times
An installation view of "Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture" at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
(Both Monica Almeida and I were attracted to the same view of Bernini's portrait of his mistress Costanza Bonarelli with Cardinal Scipione Borghese looming beyond.)

The New York Times page for Holland Cotter:
Holland Cotter in the New York Times