Monk’s Dreams

No, this post does not refer to the dreams of a monk, but rather to the dreams of one of my favorite artists, Thelonious Sphere Monk. By any measure, he is a giant of American music, but many listeners found his music dissonant and hard to listen to. Lorraine Gordon, his friend, and owner of the Village Vanguard, wrote of the disinterest she encountered when she took his music to record stores in Harlem. “He can’t play, lady,” one of the owners advised her, “the guy has two left hands.” Noted poet and critic Philip Larkin called him “the elephant on the keyboard.”

Monk’s music can sound discordant, as if he kept hitting the wrong notes. This is because he was dreaming. A piano has only 88 keys, but there are more than 88 sounds possible in the world; in fact, sounds are infinite. So how does one get around the limitation of only 88 sounds? One of Monk’s dreams was to catch sounds in-between the notes, often by playing two ajacent keys at the same time.

In many of my works, I try to paint the edges between the worlds we live in. We live our so-called “normal” daily waking routines of jobs and family. But we also live in other worlds: our daydreams, our imaginations and especially the worlds we live in while we sleep. Is it possible to paint the worlds between those worlds? The Threshold is one of my attempts to do this.
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La Partenza

Perhaps there are sadder words in the Italian language than partenza, but not for me. Partenza means a leaving, a sailing away, a goodbye. But more deeply, it implies a breaking-apart, a separation from something, or someone.

In the image, the boat is a ferry on Lake Lugano in the southern, Italian-speaking part of Switzerland on the border with Italy. Green mountains surround the city and the lake, and the beauty of the trees and sky and the light shimmering on the water make it feel like being there is living in the set of a magical film. Travelers visit Lugano and ask “why would anyone ever want to leave a place as lovely as this?”  But the woman is going to leave. We don’t know why; we can only imagine. Read More

World Of Wonders

On a late afternoon in October, like any other late afternoon in Autumn, I was driving home on a two-lane road from a temporary day job. As you get close to our town the road takes a long, gentle curve past a clearing, then a pond and a grove of pines that mark the edge the Fairgrounds. On the opposite side of the road a meadow sprawls over several acres. As I entered the shadows of the pines there suddenly appeared in my rear view mirror a plume of light and a wave of light, like silent explosions.

A road to Grass Valley is not the road to Damascus. There was no bolt of lightning, no one thrown off a horse into the dirt, no voice from the heavens demanding to know why I was persecuting somebody, just a middle-aged guy in a beat-up Datsun pick up truck enchanted by a vision of light. The vision became a revelation.
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