Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Marsha and Stu, my Snowbirds from Chicago, winter in Newport Beach and my assignment is to find new and interesting things to do.  This years adventure began at The Broad and here you see the Jeff Koons installation ‘TULIPS’ hence the name for the third floor gallery.
Tulips - Jeff Koons
The Broad houses  2,000 works collected over a 50 year period by Eli and Edythe Broad who are among our modern day Medici’s, patrons of the contemporary art world. Of special interest is knowing only 10% of their collection is on view at any given time and the rest are held in ‘The Vault’.  More on that later.
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Since the beginning of time, well at least the Paleolithic period, man has expressed himself through painting.  The Lascaux ‘Cave’ paintings in the Dordogne region of Southwest France is proof of that.
Without the support of major patrons, most of what we know today as great art (I refer to all art forms) would be lost or never would have come into being.  The question arises then not so much what drives men to create but what drives some to collect and not just collect a few works but become a modern day Lorenzo de Medici, the Magnificent, called by Machiavelli the ‘greatest patron of all.’ The Broad collection while quite extensive might be outdone by Herb & Dorthy (Vogel) postal worker & librarian who crammed their 1 bedroom apartment in N.Y.C. with 4,000 Minimalist & Conceptual art pieces all on a postal workers salary!  Their collection is now housed in The National Gallery of Art. All this is quite something to think about and you might be interested in seeing the documentary on ‘Herb and Dorothy’.
Back to The Broad.  Although the museum visit is free, ticketing can be problematic as you have to reserve quite a bit ahead  and invariably stand in line for your entry time.  The current exhibits on the main floor are ‘Creature’ with the largest piece being Thomas Houseago’s ‘Giant Figure-Cyclops’ which you can partially see in the photo below. Another is Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ which you have to line up again for in order to get a time to view. (Only one person allowed in the room at a time.)
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 An escalator travels upwards to the third floor gallery where first you enter the ‘Tulip Room’.  As you ascend, you have no idea that you’re passing through ‘The Vault’.  More on that later.
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 I was taken by this Barbara Kruger work, ‘You are a Very Special Person’ because of the text that I want to shout out to everyone!
The Broad Museum
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Now this Conceptual piece by Jenny Holtzer, ‘Inflammatory Essays, 1979-82 is huge.  Offset posters on vertical rows of colored paper, each repeating the text from top to bottom of its row. You may find it interesting, depressing, truthful, shocking or just as it’s title, ‘inflammatory’! You be the judge.
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On to Jeff Koons…..IMG 0178
 A dog is a dog or something like that.  Draw your own conclusions.
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 Actually the architecture of The Broad is an artwork in and of itself!
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You may remember I call student Monica my Cy Twombly and wouldn’t dare to change a bit of her amazing style.  However, the works of Twombly that I have responded to in the past were absent here.
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 Marsha is not only a patron of the arts but also a well respected docent in Chicago.  Here she ponders the famous Jasper Johns ‘Flag’.
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 John Baldessari is in the ‘Sol LeWitt’ school of thought.  Just give detailed instructions and have someone else create the work. Hmmmmm...
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If you take the stairs down to the first level you’ll find you are in the center of ‘The Vault’ where there are two levels of windows through which you can view the vast collection in storage.
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If you’re still on the fence about Conceptual Art I have a wonderful book to recommend. ‘ART and PHYSICS: Parallel Visions in Space, Time & Light’ by Leonard Schlain.  Dr. Schlain develops the theory that artists in their time are prophetic and builds a strong case for that idea.
From The New York Times Book Review: “In eighteen years as an art critic I have not encountered more provocative, insightful writing about art."
Another must read if you have a mountain of time and a colored marker is, 'THE VOICES OF SILENCE' by André Malraux. (Translated by Stuart Gilbert)
Ah, this looks pretty ‘conceptual’. I wish I had taken a photo of the 100-year-old Barouni olive trees on the plaza next to the Broad.  So magnificent!
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 We’re hungry!  'Otium Restaurant' is right outside but I must give you fair warning.  Although the food is wonderful they ran out of just about everything we wanted to order.
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 Oh well, we managed to sustain life.
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On to the music!  Carol invited me to a lecture by James Robinson, the Director of the opera ‘Abduction From the Seraglio’ which opened Saturday evening.  It was held at The California Club and as we were driving there we were so hungry and started dreaming about the clubs yummy meatballs.  As soon as we walked in a young woman approached us with a tray of….wait for it….meatballs!
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 Sated we moved on to the discussion.
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 James Robinson, Director of ’The Abduction From the Seraglio’,  speaking with Christopher Koelsch, Pres/CEO LA Opera
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 Thank you dear Carol for a fun, informative evening!
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 Next day the Final Dress Rehearsal for 'The Abduction From the Seraglio’.
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 I invited Amy to go with me and as usual, this is about as close to photographing her as I can get……Talk to the hand! She’s holding the Production notes & synopsis.
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 Time for the Bella Voce Society Dinner…...
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At the Bella Voce Society dinner I sat next to Ellen Sondheim, quite possibly the sweetest woman in the entire world…make that the universe!  She is so in love with husband Harry that they acted like honeymooners.  It was a joy to be with them!
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I wish you great joy in every precious moment!

Saturday, January 28, 2017


….hosted by Lyn Campbell at the Los Angeles Country Club was just as sensational as the guest of honor, the Hostess with the Mostest, lovely Valerie!

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Our delightful table favors….

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I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and mentioned it in my last blog. It seems that the hallmark of an authentic person is their ability to maintain friendships over the course of their lifetime.  Well, when it was time to toast Valerie, there was almost a contest as to who has known her the longest and I think the winner was someone from the age of twelve on!  Remarkable.  Everyone admires Valerie as she hung the moon and it was a joy to hear about her acts of loving kindness and generosity through the years. Get the Kleenex ‘cause you’d puddle up!


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Valerie presented Lynn with an exquisite gift wrapped with two of the most beautiful Magnolia Blossoms.  Real, yes, real ones!

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I have to give a special thanks to Diane Jenkins for sharing her photos with me .  Diane has used my painting ‘Moonlit Roses' as the focal point in her master suite’.

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Vanya, Valerie’s sister, was so delightful and it was great fun to be able to see her daughter, Boyden, in from Washington for the special occasion!

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With beautiful daughter Vanessa!DSCN3723

Boyden, Valerie’s niece, daughter Vanessa and sister Vanya.  All so beautiful!

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Vanessa’s adorable sons showed up to celebrate!  With Auntie Boyden!

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Let’s open the presents.  I thought the hand painted bench with the chickens was adorable & most appropriate as Valerie has chickens and bees!  I’ve been a recipient of both!!!

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I think this is appropriate, don’t you?

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How about that beautiful gift bag?  Wonder who it’s from???

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Well maybe, in the end it’s all about the shoes…isn’t it???

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Wishing you lovely, joy filled days and lot’s to celebrate!

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.