Friday, September 25, 2009

"Hey James....I really like your art. The abstract nature of your art makes it difficult for me to see and understand...just like all those chord changes. So maybe you need a blog to give people and introduction to those little squares and rectangles."


"Thanks Dan. The blocks and shapes aren't all that difficult to understand. Each block is like a note, chord, word, paragraph, minute, hour, life. Put another way, my mom and grandma make quilts and these are my way of continuing that patchwork."


Saturday, August 08, 2009

New York Art and Jazz

There she is over my shoulder, The Chrysler Building. The most beautiful building ever made, New York's finest architectural landmark and a shining example of our country's golden age where design met function and won. It only took me 40 years to stand on the Empire State Building's observation floor and take that photo.

I had an amazing trip to New York City a couple of weeks ago. Chris Minnis and I went up. All he asked was to go to Jazz Clubs at night and I was more than pleased to agree. That left my days free to do whatever I liked.

First day was the Empire State building and lot's of walking around Midtown visiting shops and local eateries. That night we went to the Village Vanguard to see the Fred Hersch Trio. NPR recorded it so you can listen for yourself:

The second day was filled with Art. We stayed in Chelsea so it was convenient to visit galleries. Many were closed in the morning. What I saw through the day largely met expectations: creative, cerebral with splashes of energy but no great surprises. My work holds up very well thank you. :) The best part of the morning was meeting two locals, Jack and Danny. They're in the quarry business and were both born and raised New Yorkers who very generously spent more than an hour talking to me about the city, growing up there and how things had changed - for the better. Danny's wife served me a great cup of coffee. It was his 45th birthday. On their insistence, I did the touristy stuff on Broadway, visiting the Ed Sullivan Theater, Central Park and 30 Rock. I capped my daytrip with a very satisfying visit to MoMA, noone to rush me. Feeling guilty afterward, I spent way too much time shopping for my family in the shop!

That night we rode the subway to Little Italy for dinner and accidentally went to Brooklyn. All ended well and we made it back for dinner at Angelo's. We got two shows in that night. The first was beyond belief, in part because I didn't know what to expect from Terence Blanchard's Quintet. Shame on me. NPR comes through again with a downloadable mp3 of his Feb show at the Vanguard.

We finished the night catching the legendary Pat Martino at the Iridium on Broadway playing with Tony Monaco. His story speaks volumes about the human mind and spirit. Check his National Jazz Museum of Harlem interviews out on Youtube.

All in all, a very inspiring two days. I videotaped constantly, people on-the-street, accidental angles, construction, traffic, things I never saw before in films.... and have been reviewing those tapes for painting ideas. So much more to see and do but it will have to wait till next time. My wife and girls will join me next summer when we visit again. Anyone want to give us their Letterman tickets?


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Speaking Engagements

I hope everyone's having a great summer. The Art market is obviously slow at the moment but I've participated in a few shows and am otherwise staying busy with teaching and playing in a small Jazz combo I put together. Life is beautiful.

The Bowling Green Public Library is presenting a series of workshops and public presentations as part of a summer cultural program. They've asked me to speak twice. I tried to pick two subjects that are close to my heart AND timely.

June 25 6pm Main Branch
The Art world shift post World War II.

July 14 6pm Kirby Branch
WPA art and influence

Both are free and available to the public. Seating may be limited so come early. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Like Someone In Love in the opening song on my favorite John Coltrane album, "Lush Life". The first three tracks are just sax, upright and drums. It's an amazing recording - exposed and harmonically rich. This is a close to being in the room with John as you're going to get.

I often listen to Jazz while I paint, favorites being Monk and Bill Evans. Some have commented on the correlation which seems very obvious to me. Rhythm, melody, counterpoint and abstraction are fundamental concepts I continue to enjoy exploring as a musician and painter.

If you're in Nashville, come by the Rymer to see "Like Someone In Love" for yourself. If you're up for a drive to Franklin, KY, I'll be playing a mix of Jazz, Blues, Folk and Ambient Americana at the Brickyard every Saturday night this summer.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Show Reception Tonight at Rymer

I took some new paintings to the Rymer Gallery Friday afternoon and will be attending tonight's reception around 7pm. I'm not technically part of the current show but Herb has always been very supportive and generous.

In particular, look for "Treetops at Midday", which hasn't been shown in Nashville, "You and the Land Are One" which was featured in the Nashville City Paper guide for Nashville Cares and a new series of small canvases called "Rafts".

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Watership Galactica

I write to a few friends about geeky stuff. These final episodes of Battlestar Galactica have us going back and forth each week. The following letter summed my point of view up best:


I know I harp on it but you really should read Watership Down. It's been a favorite of mine since I was a kid but I reread it again about every other year.

While essentially another version of the same classic mythos as every other apocalyptic story, it stands apart in it's depiction of how social and political structures are formed in times of crisis.

The parallels to BSG are worth the read alone.

Spiritual / Paranormal cognizance and underpinning
Social decay and overpopulation are ignored
Religious teachings have lost relevance
Foreshadowing for select seers
Apocalyptic event
Small haphazard band escape
Political and social order is tested
Visionary leader recognizes value of individuals
Rules of society are adapted to new circumstances
Secondary leader with military experience supports new mobile government
Low resources and morale lead to compromised decisions
Leadership is challenged and undermined
Temporary refuge proves deadly
Escape strengthens cohesion among group
Former enemies are recruited and given safe haven
Paranormal visions of ultimate home give hope
An established paramilitary society threatens the group
Characters grow exponentially to meet new challenges
Final home is found but reproduction is impossible
A forward thinking leader strikes unusual alliances with enemies
Gambit is successful but brings wraith of enemy military commander
Final confrontation brings together various allied factions
Strategy, risk and sacrifice - major characters die
Dues Ex Machina - supernatural intervention
A new home is established
Formal religion is replaced with new direct relationship to God
Political society is reset as a theocracy
Formal relations are established between former enemies
Interbreeding leads to peaceful reconciliation between cultures
New generations enjoy prosperity and plenty under wise leadership
Original group are adopted into mythology
History is forgotten
Easy life leads to general mailase
The cycle repeats infinitely

They're rabbits, not cylons.

Yeah, I'm a fan! This book was my introduction to the myth. It's not a children's book. We all tend to love best the version we heard first.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Louisville Reception Feb 6th

I'll be at Swanson Reed Contemporary gallery next friday, Feb 6th for the reception so please come by, have a glass of wine, see the show and say hi. We had a surprisingly good turnout for the opening despite the weather. Here's hoping the snow and ice let up!

I'm also finishing up one private commission and contributing another to a new show in Bowling Green. The Rymer has a new small works show with a couple of my pieces in it and I hope to add a few more.

I'm looking forward to getting more paperworks on etsy in the coming weeks so look out for those as well. We'll send a newsletter when they're available. If you aren't on the list, send an email to with "join newsletter" in the title.

Take care,

Friday, January 09, 2009

Swanson Reed

Short one, more later....

The fall show in Nashville went great. Lot's of great press thanks to the Nashville City Paper. They really showed off my work in an article on the Nashville Artrageous benefit show. Thanks Herb, Jeff and Tonia!

New show at Swanson Reed Contemporary in downtown Louisville went up last week and opened Friday night, Jan 2! Thanks to the gallery walk, we had a great turnout despite the short notice and lack of promotion. The actual reception is Feb 6 so join us if you can.

A few words about Chuck Swanson...
He's a fixture on the Louisville Art Scene and now I understand why. Charming, professional, direct and consistently quirky are just some of the adjectives that come to mind. This show wasn't planned but he and I both put in long hours on New Year's eve and day to make it happen. Why am I surprised it looks fantastic? Thanks Chuck!

Finally, I'm working on a commission for a lovely couple from Manhattan so I need to get back to work!

Happy New Year!