‘Twas a lovely surprise a few weeks back, to receive…by way of a thank you of sorts…a package from Matthew Stackpole. He, by way of Martha’s Vineyard and Mystic Connecticut, and a lifetime of service to both seafaring villages and museums and maritime history everywhere.
He had sent me a copy of the book, The Charles E. Morgan – The Last Wooden Whaleship, written by his father Edouard A. Stackpole. It’s a lively in depth history of the ship and her adventures published in 1967. I’m only part way through and it has me hooked. Great sky chair reading. Thank you so much Matthew.
Matthew and his brother had the run of the Morgan when their father was at the helm of the Mystic Seaport Museum.
So he had fond memories to share when looking at the paintings I had done from the museum and the ship for last years’ Granary Gallery Show.
We have returned to terra firma after an extended excursion to Martha’s Vineyard. We usually let the unpacking phase linger long enough to keep some sand between our toes… as a reminder of all those walks on the beach, but there are wonderful things about coming home too.
Somewhere in the mountain of mail we returned to, ( thank you Sue for sorting it all out for us ) , I found my November issue of American Art Collector Magazine, and was pleasantly surprised to see my pal Ted there…
Humble thanks to Master John O’Hern for his ever so kind words about my work, and my muse. The memory I have of the twinkle of humor and love in Ted’s eyes is almost matched by seeing that rakish draping of jeans over boot.
It is a grey soft day here as November creeps upon us. The apples have all been picked up, but the grass is well over the tops of my boots, and the leaves have only just begun to fall.
Inside the studio, the furnace has begun firing up for the season, and so too have the brushes. It’s a good opportunity to work on the stack of commissions that have been piling up. In this time, between working on major bodies of work for shows, I can give undivided attention to those special projects and, after a long hiatus from the easel, my creative energy is restored and ready to rock and roll.
In the days ahead, I plan to show up more often here on the blog with progress notes and ramblings on creativity and studio happenings.
Today it feel so good to be able to say…back to the easel for now.
As in, my painting of The Captains, is on the Cover of this month’s American Art Collector Magazine…
Blog readers will remember the recent entry about my pals Ted and Pete leaving the planet this winter. Being left here without them was not an option, so I took a couple days off from the gallery work I was producing to do a painting of them, on the bluff, looking out over the ocean, on a distant afternoon, when we all shared some sweet simple time together.
Thanks to gallery owner Micheal Sugarman (Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe), the magazine tasked John O’Hern to write an article on my work. In talking with Micheal, and then John, interesting questions arose about what an artist paints “just for themselves”.
I have been working up to taking the challenge of figurative paintings, and when I looked around the studio it turns out that I have already begun that process. The ones which John features in the article are all very personal studies. My Captains leans just to the left of my easel where those two can continue to keep me on my toes.
I’m still shaking my head at the certainty that Ted and Pete had everything to do with nudging the painting on to the cover. It’s a very big deal for any artist and I am completely humbled, but oh how I shake my head in wonder each time I walk by the mag (which I have perched on a weaver’s chair in front of the other painting I did of Ted, The Teacozy)…just shake my head and smile from ear to ear at the folly of those pals working their magic from beyond.
The magazine should hit the newsstands soon. Here’s a link to their website, AAC Magazine.
Here’s an excerpt of John’s writing for the piece, Neill’s paintings of props, fishermen’s shacks and the landscape are finely rendered and often full of humor and subtle associations that enrich the viewer’s experience. She paint’s her emotional response to her subjects. Full figures and portraits, however, have only appeared recently in paintings that she painted “just for me,” paintings that are “very personal and straight from the heart.” Her partner Pat Lackey has been urging her to show the paintings. When her Santa Fe dealer Michael Sugarman asked her about the paintings she is most proud of she replied, “I have rarely taken the time to do work that is just for me. It is interesting because if I had to answer honestly, these portraits are the ones I am most proud of because they are all about love at the deepest part of my soul.” Aren’t we aging well is a carefully composed double portrait of the artist and her partner. They vacation on Martha’s Vineyard every summer. The bluff overlooking the ocean has always been a favorite spot. It has eroded away but remains significant in their memories.
We will be up there soon. And I know it won’t be the same. There are many friends from that island who have gone on to other shores of late. But holding them close is part of growing up and growing old and we are doing both.
I was going to continue with the Apple Series for the unveiling of today’s painting but …there’s an outrageous assault on artistic expression raging on Facebook as I write so I’m switching gears a bit.
Last night John O’Hern posted this photo on Facebook which is the announcement for his latest Re-Presenting the Nude show at Evoke Gallery in Santa Fe.
Within minutes of his posting… facebook removed the image from his page. Yes, that’s right…censored. A few of us were able to repost it on our FB pages and the Evoke Gallery responded by posting the individual images of the paintings up on their website starting last night. I just got word from John that the Evoke Gallery has now been blocked from posting for 24 hrs.
Below is John’s posted response to the initial censoring on his page…
It amazes me that an organization like Facebook, begun by people of obvious intelligence and sophistication, should hire creatures who have only recently slithered onto the shore to control its department of censorship. I’m grateful for the many “Likes” and good wishes posted in support of the artists in my exhibition “Re-presenting the Nude II” before the announcement (with pictures!) was removed… from my profile page. The Roman poet Juvenal wrote in his Satires: “Quis Custodiet ipsos custodies?” (“Who will guard the guards themselves?”) It’s a question that is as true today as it was then. Who knows what Neanderthal censors might have ordered their artist kin to scrape off the wall? When more secure people occupied the ranks of those directing our society, the historian Henry Steele Commager wrote: “Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” More chillingly, the African American scholar Henry Louis Gates wrote: “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” I’ll give the last word to someone who knew the subject well, the buxom bombshell Mae West, who said: “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.” May all Facebook-censored artists do so as well. (And the curators.)
The original reason I signed up for Facebook was to keep track of the fast paced thoughts and lives of our grandchildren. It has become a valuable resource for connecting me to friends, family, and ideas and is an integral part in promoting my artwork and keeping in touch with patrons and introducing me to new artists and their work. Frankly I’m shocked that their “censors” have decided that any of these artistic representations of the human figure are too risky for us to lay eyes upon…when they so freely allow the children to post obscene and offensive language defining the explicit parts and usage of those parts of that same human figure.
So… my response to the environment of repression, discrimination and censorship in this year of political discord… is this…
It’s been a couple of seasons since we had the pleasure of John O’Hern’s company in our little corner of the planet. As part of his east coast travels, he came to the studio to interview me for the American Art Collector Magazine. John is one of those rare humans who has a thriving curiosity, the intellect to follow where it leads, and a profound peace at the center of his core. The combination makes for stellar conversation and his rapier like wit always keeps me on my bog-Irish toes.
I’m so grateful to John for his continued support and to Joshua Rose, the editor of AAC for profiling my work in this issue. The magazine is my go to source for the latest from artists and galleries and I’ve found something new and important for my work in every issue.
The February issue will be out soon, if not already, but here’s a peek at the first page of John’s article…
Many thanks to John O’Hern and the editors of the American Art Collector Magazine for showcasing the painting Temple of My Familiar in their latest issue. You can access the magazine on line if you are a subscriber or find it at most book stores to read the entire article. Above is a link to the AAC website and below is an excerpt from the article. The painting is on exhibition at the Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard.