A new year well underway, Lifeworlds continues

Hello everyone from frigid New York City on this Valentine’s Day 2016!

I’ve been retooling my studio set-up and finally (last weekend) completed the firstsecond oil painting of 2016 (and the next in the Lifeworld series).  So here we have it:

Lifeworld 36, oil/mixed media on canvas, 20x20" (51x51cm), 2016
Lifeworld 36, oil/mixed media on canvas, 20×20″ (51x51cm), 2016
A detail shot of Lifeworld 36
A detail shot of Lifeworld 36

Lifeworld 36 continues the adventure. I’ve also been exploring the ever important topic of studio safety and reducing toxicity in oil painting.  I’ll write up more of my findings on that topic soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the paintings and stay warm!

The new painting on the easel chez moi
The new painting on the easel chez moi

*actually, the first oil painting of 2016 is this little sketch (below) – a trial balloon for a suite of paintings I’m planning that are inspired by the Fontanelle cemetery in Napoli, Italy.

A quick sketch to check out the new painting setup, January 2016
A quick sketch to check out the new painting setup, January 2016

Gowanus Open Studios: A personal retrospective

Gowanus Open Studios is mere days away (you’re coming, right? – Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17, 12-6pm — details here)! Looking back, I’m amazed to see that this year’s tour will be the NINTH that I have participated in.  Yes, that’s a “9”!

So, in celebration of this big number 9, I thought I’d offer to you a little photo-retrospective of my past nine years in Gowanus.

It all started in in 2007, when I begin renting studio space in a cool place then known as “Brooklyn Artists Gym“.

Lifeform (polyptych), acrylic on canvas, 2003-2007.
Lifeform (polyptych), acrylic on canvas, 2003-2007.

That year I was bound and determined to complete an ambitious polyptych I had conceived and started way back in 2003.

In 2008, I continued the general theme with a new polyptych:

Me with new work at AGAST 2008.
Me with new work at AGAST 2008.  Damn, I look young in this photo!

By the way, back then, the studio tour was known as A.G.A.S.T., which means … what the hell did it mean?  Anyway, fun times and boy do I look young in this photograph!

2009 began a shift in my work toward single-canvas pieces, and the beginnings of an evolution in style:

AGAST in 2009. Individual canvases and lots of small work.
AGAST in 2009. Individual canvases and lots of small work.

During 2007-2009, I worked and displayed in BAG’s communal space.

Starting in 2010, I began working in the semi-private studio space you’ll find me in this year:

The studio tour set-up in 2010 -- my very own permanent (semi-private) space!
The studio tour set-up in 2010 — my very own permanent (semi-private) space!

At some point along the way, Brooklyn Artists Gym became Brooklyn Art Space, and A.G.A.S.T. became Gowanus Open Studios.  Exactly when, I’m not remembering — the years are starting to run together.  Here’s 2011:

Gowanus Open Studios in 2011. That year saw the start of the "Manomayakaya" series.
Gowanus Open Studios in 2011. That year saw the start of the “Manomayakaya” series.

2012

Open studios in 2012: Reach triptych, Manomayakaya #2 and Lifeworlds 1-4.
Open studios in 2012: Reach triptych, Manomayakaya #2, Lifeworlds 1-4 and lots of other good stuff.

2013

Open Studios in 2013.
Open Studios in 2013.

2014

Lifeworlds and Paysage planétaire (Colden) on display during GOS 2014.
Lifeworlds and Paysage planétaire (Colden) on display during GOS 2014.
Le Poulpe (the Octopus) escaped from the Gowanus Swim Society exhibition on Governor's Island and resurfaced during GOS 2014.
Le Poulpe (the Octopus) escaped from the Gowanus Swim Society exhibition on Governor’s Island and resurfaced during GOS 2014.

So there you have it!  I hope you’ll come out for this year’s Gowanus Open Studios!  This weekend, October 17-18, in Gowanus, Brooklyn!

Breaking News: De-Natured, at the Old Stone House

Sorry for the last-minute announcement, but this all came together very quickly: I’m pleased to let you know that I will have work included in a show at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  The show opens TONIGHT (October 15), 6-8pm.

About the show:

Nature is often bent to man’s needs and wants. The Gowanus Canal was once a marshland and now has been channeled and distorted into the managed and controlled canal that it is today. Once messy and natural, it is now contained.

Similarly, the paintings, collages, and photographs in this exhibit all begin with nature-based subject matter. Through the art-making process, that subject or motif is interpreted, distorted, and adapted to become something else entirely. In some, the original image is completely hidden, sometimes it is still clear.

All of these artworks grapple with the role of nature in our man-made world.

Curated by Abby Subak, Director of Arts Gowanus.

The Old Stone House is at 336 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215.

Lifeworld 21, oil on canvas, 20x20", 2014.
Lifeworld 21, oil on canvas, 20×20″, 2014, by John Azelvandre

Gowanus Open Studios is almost here!

Happy October everyone!  Gowanus Open Studios takes over Brooklyn in less than 2 weeks (October 16-18) and I’m involved in several exciting events during that weekend.

The Studio Tour weekend starts Friday October 16 with Beat Nite Gowanus, a Norte Maar production.  I’m pleased that Gowanus Swim Society – the neighborhood artists collective I’m a part of – has been included in the Beat Nite Gowanus Gallery walk.  The event runs from 6-10 pm Friday night.  Come by Halyards Bar to get a preview of Gowanus Swim’s show Telestrations!  See all the details on the Beat Nite Gowanus website!

Gowanus Open Studios starts in earnest on Saturday, October 17.  Studios throughout the neighborhood will be open from 12 noon to 6pm on both Saturday and Sunday, October 18.  Find me in my studio at Brooklyn Art Space, at 168 7th Street, 3rd floor (that’s between 2nd and 3rd avenues, Brooklyn).

"Lifeworld 33", oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2015.
“Lifeworld 33”, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2015.

On Saturday night Gowanus Swim Society hosts Telestrations, the official Gowanus Open Studios Saturday night party!  See more of my art along with work by all of the Swim Society plus specially curated video and performance and live bands!  The party runs from 6pm to 4am.  The party is at Halyards, 3rd Avenue and 6th Street (Brooklyn, of course).  All the details are on the Facebook event page.

"Transatlantic train to nowhere", mixed media, 20x20", 2015. Included in Gowanus Swim's show "Telestrations" at Halyards
“Transatlantic train to nowhere”, mixed media, 20×20″, 2015. Included in Gowanus Swim’s show “Telestrations” at Halyards

Whew! It will be a busy weekend!  I hope to see all of you somewhere along the way!

Upcoming: Gowanus Open Studios and a Call for Submissions!

Lifeworld 28 - detail

Wow, it’s already mid-September and Gowanus Open Studios is just around the corner, happening on October 16-18!  What makes this year’s Open Studios even more fabulous is an exhibition of art, video and performance at Halyards Bar on the weekend of the tour.  Our neighborhood artists’ collective, Gowanus Swim Society has put out a call for submissions.

Here are the details:

Emerging and mid-career video and performance artists are invited to submit their work for consideration in our October 17th exhibition and showcase, Telestrations, presented in partnership with Arts Gowanus and Gowanus Open Studios. We are looking for work that broadly addresses the themes of translation, communication and play. What does it mean to be misinterpreted? Misconstrued? Can it ever be a good or funny thing? All submissions will be considered by our Guest Curator Alex Sloane of MoMA PS1.

About Gowanus Swim Society: Established in January 2014, Gowanus Swim Society is a collective, guild, skillshare, crit group and social club. Comprised of a ten Gowanus based artists who meet regularly and provide a forum for sharing information and artist resources we have exhibited together throughout New York City. For the first time ever, we are presenting the general public with an opportunity to join us.

About Gowanus Open Studios: Now in its 19th year, Gowanus Open Studios is an annual open studio event in which over 300 artists open their studios to the general public for the third weekend in October. Artist studios and other sites will be open from noon-6pm both Saturday and Sunday. Evening events are scheduled Friday through Sunday. Gowanus Open Studios 2015: October 17-18th About the Curator: Alex Sloane is a Curatorial Assistant at MoMA PS1, NY where she focuses on the Sunday Sessions performance series, a weekly presentation of performance, moving images, dance, music, and discursive programs that embrace live arts as an integral aspect of contemporary practice. In addition to Sunday Sessions she assisted most recently in the organization of the exhibitions like Anne Imhof: Deal (2015) Retrospective by Xavier Le Roy (2014) among others. Prior to joining PS1 in 2011, she was co-founder of the Lower East Side artist-run project space 1:1. She received her BFA from Parsons The New School for Design in 2011.

If you are an artist working performance and/or video, please check out our Call for Art!

Lifeworld 28 - detail
Lifeworld 28, oil on canvas, 20×20″, 2014 (detail)

Recently sold

It’s been a busy summer and I’m pleased to have recently sold some paintings.

oil on canvas, 30x30", 2012
“Manomayakaya #2″, oil on canvas, 30×30”, 2012

First Manomayakaya #2 (pictured above), was sold, then this lovely watercolor:

"Red", Watercolor on paper, 6x6", 2011.
“Red”, Watercolor on paper, 6×6″, 2011.

There are several places online where you can see my artwork, besides this blog: First my website, then for a more comprehensive catalog, my flickr page.  I am offering smaller, more affordable works, such as “Red” pictured above, through my Etsy store.

Check out all the great work and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, or info about pricing or availability.

Featured Painting of the Week: Lifeworld 2

My apologies – It’s been quite a few weeks since I’ve posted a “featured painting.” Life has a way of happening.

But better late than never! This week I’m featuring Lifeworld 2, an intriguing work from 2012 — one of the very early pieces in my ongoing Lifeworld Series.  Lifeworld 2 is now available in my Square store.  I am offering free shipping anywhere in the United States.  If you’re in the New York City area and would like to see the piece, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Lifeworld 2, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2012.
Lifeworld 2, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2012.

The Lifeworlds Project

Lifeworlds is a long-range painting project I started in 2012.  The project started initially out of a desire to explore the square format in painting. The inspiration for this was not Instagram as one might easily suppose, but the square format Landscape paintings of Gustav Klimt.  I then chanced upon the evocative term “Lifeworld” in the philosophical writings of Edmund Husserl and from the confluence of these two streams the project was born.

"Lifeworld 1", oil on canvas, 20x20" (approx. 50cm2). Summer, 2012. The project starts here!
“Lifeworld 1″, oil on canvas, 20×20” (approx. 50cm2). Summer, 2012. The project starts here!

Now, three years into the project, Lifeworlds continues to evolve and develop. I decided early on that I would continue to make square format paintings under the title of “Lifeworld” until I felt that I had exhausted the possibilities of the format entirely.

In reality, the possibilities of this form may never be exhausted.  Therefore, I thought it best to put a cap on it: so the idea arose to work toward the completion of 108 paintings.

Lifeworld 14, oil on canvas, 20x20", 2013
Lifeworld 14, oil on canvas, 20×20″, 2013

Why 108? Those who know me and have followed my work for a while will also know of my interest in Buddhism, and the influence it’s had on my work.  108 is the number of prayer beads in the Buddhist japa mala (a Buddhist rosary). The number is given various meanings in Buddhist cosmology and additionally simply refers to any proverbial big number in the same way that a “myriad” (literally Greek for “10,000”) has come to stand in for anything large and virtually uncountable.  So, instead of making some infinite number of paintings, I will make 108 to represent that infinity.

Since one of the uses of a rosary or japa mala is to count repetitions of chants or prayers, a nice thing about the number 108 is that it emphasizes how the project becomes a kind of prayer or meditation on the artistic process, and on the artist’s relationship with his environment — what I’m calling a Lifeworld.

"Lifeworld 12" mixed media on canvas, 20x20", 2013.
“Lifeworld 12″ mixed media on canvas, 20×20”, 2013.

So, I see each Lifeworld as a snapshot of a particular state of mind formed when the artist encounters his subject. Although frequently quite abstract, each painting results from the process of observing my surroundings. The square is both the container for the composition and also one of its principal motifs.

As of this writing, the newest Lifeworld pieces are numbers 32, 33 and 34, all completed earlier this year.  The precise imagery continues to evolve and shift, all the while remaining within the parameters of the project: square format and 20″ x 20″ (around 51cm2 — 50.8cm to be exact) in size.

"Lifeworld 32", oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2015.
“Lifeworld 32”, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2015.
"Lifeworld 33", oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2015.
“Lifeworld 33”, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2015.

A small note about the size: there are a couple of early Lifeworlds, numbers 5 and 7, that are actually 24×24″ (60cm2).  I was still experimenting with the parameters at this stage; I may end up going back and redoing these to fit the program.

Lifeworld 7, oil on canvas, 24x24in., 2012.
Lifeworld 7, oil on canvas, 24x24in., 2012.

So a big project like this needs help, which leads me to …

How you can help:

A big project and entails certain tangible challenges to the artist (not to mention all the intangible challenges!), not least of which are the cost of materials, the cost of studio space (ever-increasing in New York City) and the potential storage costs (108 paintings take up a lot of space!).

So I’m reaching out to you — dear audience!  There are several ways you can help:

1. Lifeworlds are for sale! Some have sold already. Prices currently run from $800 to $1,200 for each painting.  If you would like to see or purchase a painting (or two or three), contact me.  I do hope to mount an exhibition of all or a selection of the paintings in the future — and how cool would it be for you to have a painting that you own in a major retrospective of my work!

2. I accept tips, donations, contributions … etc. If you’re not up to purchasing a painting at the present time, you can also contribute any amount (no matter how small) toward the project through Venmo (the best! No fees for you or me!) or by clicking the paypal donate button below.  The arts has always existed through the kind generosity of its patrons.




Wow, if you’ve read this far, I really appreciate your interest.  A brief outline of the project (as well as some images) is available on my website, and all of the Lifeworlds can be viewed together on my flickr account.  I’ll continue to post future developments here.  Stay tuned!

Lifeworld 2, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2012.
Lifeworld 2, oil on canvas, 20x20in., 2012.

Announcing ArtWorks, a benefit for Arts Gowanus

Final Arts Gowanus: artworks
As many of you are aware, my studio is located in the Brooklyn Industrial neighborhood Gowanus, named after the infamous creek/canal called Gowanus (once upon a time it was a salt marsh estuary/creek, but it has been a rather filthy industrial canal for at least the past 150 years).  We have a vibrant community of artists in Gowanus, with many arts events happening each year, including the annual Gowanus Open Studios studio tour, in which I have participated every year since 2007.

Arts Gowanus is our local arts advocacy organization that puts together the studio tour.   Their mission is to support artists and the arts in the Gowanus neighborhood and to create a sustainable artistic community here. In addition to the neighborhood-wide Gowanus Open Studios, Arts Gowanus offers workshops to support artists, and they have built an incredible community of artists through their networking events.

In order to make all this happen, Arts Gowanus needs our support! Hence the benefit event, Artworks, happening Thursday, May 28 7 to 10 pm.  Here’s what’s going to happen, in brief:

The event: 50 pieces of art are offered for 50 ticket holders.  Each ticket holder will walk away with a piece of art.  You can buy a ticket (only $200.00) here: ArtWorks Eventbrite page

If you are unable to make the event, but would like to support Arts Gowanus anyhow, you can also make a donation here: (same eventbrite page for buying tickets: but notice 3rd option to make a donation.)

I am donating my piece “View from beneath the surface 2” (pictured below).  It can be yours for the $200.00 ticket price!  You may remember that this piece was in the Gowanus Swim Society installation on Governor’s Island last fall.

View from beneath the surface 2, oil on canvas, 12" diameter
View from beneath the surface 2, oil on canvas, 12″ diameter

To read more about the event, visit the Arts Gowanus website.  There is also a Facebook event!

I will be there Thursday, May 28 (7-10) and I hope to see you then!