Thursday, February 07, 2013

Halle's Zebra

My Aunt Joy gave me my first piece of art--a needlepoint abstract tree she created. When I told her I really liked it, she took it off her wall and handed it to me. I also have a painting Joy did of me when I was two or three. It's dark and moody and sometimes creeps people out, but I have always loved it and it's right over there as I type this. My grandmother, Tweet, was Joy's sister and pretty much every time someone comes in to my studio and sits on the chair next to me, they comment on the abstract, modern-art, needlepoint cushions she hand-made. Their youngest sister, my Aunt Pat, was a sculptor/painter/visionary who combined her interest in native American art and found-objects into the most beautiful sculptures and paintings most of the world never saw. Their sister, Pookie was the first person who ever bought any of my drawings and she covered her apartment in them--framed them and put them up right next to the Picasso print and the paintings she had picked up in galleries along her way.

I've got a sculpture by my cousin Peter in the window of my studio and a drawn Christmas card from cousin Amy up over there too. My cousin Steve recently told me he's returning to making his sculptures that are so large and intricately built, they're practically architectural. My great-uncle Norm wrote a Broadway play that played for a week.

On my father's side, my great-great uncle was an abstract painter and sculptor--a contemporary of Picasso--who was so ahead of his time that he's only now getting his due. One of his sculptures--it's in a museum somewhere now--used to be a doorstop at my Aunt Rose's house when I was growing up. My dad is an acting teacher and a director and my step-mother is an art-historian whose research on quattrocento renaissance frescoes had my brothers and me shuffling our feet in Florentine churches and museums when most kids are out playing baseball or something.

All of which is to say when I tell people I don't have any formal art training, that's strictly-speaking true, but far from reality. I was raised in a split family obsessed with artistic expression on both sides of the aisle.


My little cousin Halle came down with a serious case of flu the other week. She got so sick she took it upon herself to tell her doctor that she needed to go to the hospital. I don't know all the details, but I know that by the time she got to the hospital her lungs were so full of fluids, she had to be intubated and essentially placed in a medical coma for a couple of scary days.

She's been recovering this week at home and, from what I understand, there have been ups and downs in a general recovery trajectory that we have all followed closely via Facebook and texts and phone calls. Yesterday her grandmother wrote me to say that Halle had had a dream of a green zebra while she had been knocked out and was wondering if I would draw it for her.

So, here's your zebra, cuz. You're from a blood-line of people who work hard and dream their way through life. I hope you feel better soon . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

World Turning

It was pretty late in the night, after the show, after the strike, after we'd moved it a little further down the street and over to Bleecker and Bowery. Ray and I were at the end of the bar waiting for a drink. "Congratulations," I said.

He looked at me and smiled, "You too."

An hour and a bit earlier we had finished the two-hour-plus Motherlodge fund-raiser at Joe's Pub--what Ray had billed as a Fleetwood Mac Orgy. Ray sat stage-left, drumming most of the night and singing along on more than a few songs and I sat stage right, drawing. On the stage between us, we we were anchored by Louisville's Rumours band while--like a great parade where everything is sort of magic--an enviable string of guest stars that was jaw-dropping in scope and talent came through and shared a Mac Song. Ray and I were the co-curators of the show, so I guess you could say we were both responsible for the night, but really we just had the good luck to have great friends.

There were faces from television and movies, Broadway folk, musical geniuses, a few of the best cabaret performers of our day--one of whom also happens to be arguably the greatest playwright, songwriter and visionary of our galactic zip-code--a genius director who can rock, more than a few indie music folks with whom Ray and I often collaborate.

We had so many great people who could do so many great things in so may great ways, it's no wonder Ray wanted to call it an orgy.

Motherlodge is Ray's vision, a creative conduit of talent between Louisville and New York City that embraces theatre, music and visual arts and mixes them up together into a stew. Or, you know, orgy.

"This is what the world looks like to me," Ray said.

"Yeah, me too," I said as I paid for the drinks.

So, thanks to Taylor Mac, Lady Rizo, Justin Bond, Nath Ann Carrerra, Bathrop, Alabama, Georgiana Starlington, Erin Hill, Adam Rapp, Michael Cerveris, Michael Shannon, Josh Kaufman, Dawn Landes, Alanna Amram, Doveman, L.P. Funk, Chris Buckridge, Alex Suarez, Aaron Latos, Corn Mo, Nate Martinez, Brian Kantor, Rebecca Hart, Rob Beitzel and all of the great members of the Rumours band as well as anyone I might have missed here. It was an amazing night and I can't believe I got to share the stage with all of you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Balthrop, Alabama at Littlefield!

Motherlodge Fundraiser at Joe's Pub!

I'll be drawing along at both . . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pen and Think

This might ramble a bit, because I have to get used to writing again.

Susan told me a long time ago that she likes my birds.

I don't think I was conscious of drawing many birds until Susan told me she liked them. It's a chicken or egg thing. Maybe I was drawing them a lot before but hadn't noticed or maybe her noticing them made me draw them more. Either way, when I think about the fact that I draw birds a lot, I think about how Susan pointed it out to me.

The fact of the matter is, I'm not very self-conscious about drawing. As I've said before, it's kind of a day-dreamy intuitive exercise for me; "thinking" usually gets in the way.

That said, I've been self-consciously talking about my drawing a lot lately.

A month-and-change or so ago, Dean Haspiel came over to my apartment and we talked for a little over an hour about my work and my process and the unique set of circumstances that moved me forward as someone who attempts to make a living by drawing. Then--early last week--I got to listen to our conversation as a pod-cast over at Trip City.

And then, because I liked it, I listened to it again. And then a few other people who listened to it kept referencing it in conversations. And that made me super self-conscious. But it was good self-conscious, I guess.

And then I spent the latter part of the week in Saginaw, Michigan as a guest artist at the American College Theater Festival's Region III events where--in addition to being inspired and humbled by amazing students, faculty and other guest artists--I ended up doing a talk on my work and my process and the unique set of circumstances that moved me forward as someone who attempts to make a living by drawing. And I got really self conscious. But it was good self-conscious, I guess.

After my talk, a woman whom I assume was a faculty member came up to me and said she had a question, but she didn't. She told me she used to draw all the time and she got pretty good at it by the time she was twenty, but then she stopped and had wondered why she didn't do it any more. And I said everyone can draw but people stop because they come to think drawing is something special that only special people do. My questioner who still hadn't asked a question told me that she was thinking of drawing again and that if the drawings looked like a child's drawings, that would be a good thing probably. I told her that she should just draw if it made her happy and she agreed that she probably should. That's when she said she guessed she didn't really have a question.

At a party the other night, I told John I was going to start blogging again and that I had stopped because when I blogged before, it was usually because I was lonely and was secretly trying to find someone, But then I joined a band and met Laura and got opportunities to draw and share my work and I didn't have the time or need to blog so much. And he said being happy kills the artistic impulse. And that annoyed me like it does every time he says it because I think being a generally happy human being can lead to good art. I am not a romantic about misery, although I've put in my fair amount of time playing the part.

Anyway, I like drawing birds. I'm glad Susan pointed it out even though it changed things afterwards. I don't mind statements where the questions are implied. And, despite the fact that I am pleased by the sound of my own voice, I mostly just like to draw. Especially birds.

Monday, January 07, 2013


Yesterday, Laura, Amber, Laura and I went swinging. We saw Mike and Arian and Jean-Michel but missed Kara even though she was there. I think Jane was there too. And the lady sang.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

I like the idea of New Years Day more than any other holiday. It's so convenient, this notion that we can move from one period into another, over night. It's been a whirlwind of a year, so many new opportunities, so much sorrow, so much confusion and hope. See? Pretty much anyone can say those exact same things every year about this time and illicit visceral reactions, reflections, memories and hopes. So here's to the friends I made and the friends I drifted away from. Here's to the friends I found my way back to and all the unique new experiences. Here's to the things I hope to change and all the surprises I'll be reflecting on this time next year. Into The Next.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just Like Starting Over

This blog is coming back to life in 2013. Talk to you soon about that.