Category Archives: Transitions

Star

David Bowie, Queer Star, Jimmi Schrode

Queer Star, David Bowie and Gender Anarchy

by Jimmi Shrode

At the age of 10, I had discovered David Bowie in the pages of 16 Magazine. The wholesome safe pop idols; David Cassidy, The Osmonds and The Jackson 5 were giving way to the Glam Rockers; Lou Reed, Alice Cooper and David Bowie. Bowie was the ring leader with a shocking vermillion rooster cut and tight satin pants. With shocking blue eyeshadow highlighting his mismatched eyes and lipstick, he lead the way for the Sexual Revolution by way of Gender Anarchy and Queerness.

As David Jones, young Bowie couldn’t get arrested with a string of forgettable Anthony Newley meets The Beatles songs that were too twee. Later he would don a maxi dress and sing folkish rock songs, some notice but not quite. The novelty of ‘Space Oddity‘ coincided with America’s Moon Landing brought minor fame, introducing us to Major Tom, an astronaut lost forever in the stars. It was Ziggy Stardust, a rock and roll messiah who came just in time for the end of the world to lead us to Mars, the world of Sexual Chaos. David had announced he was Gay despite being in a marriage with Angie Bowie and son Zowie (now filmmaker Duncan Jones). Bowie was launched into the stratosphere.

David Bowie, Queer Star, Jimmi Schrode

Bowie became godlike and seduced the teens of Britain and America. A clever ruse in an age where news traveled slowly. Bowie arrived on the shores of America with an entourage, claiming great status abroad in Europe. The record executives bought it all. Global success at last. Bowie’s androgyny smashed into the world of suburbia here in the USA and abroad. Queerness was on sale in a record shop near you. Boys dressed in make up and mom’s cast-offs, skinny jeans and experimented with each other leaving lipstick traces. Girls swooned for this Queer Elvis. Adults were dismayed. What was dirty and whispered about in secret was now wrapped up in Japanese Modernist Fashion and Kabuki via the LSD dreams of Timothy Leary, strutting under the spotlights for all the world to see.

Bowie rediscovered Lou Reed, Andy Warhol’s Superstar and leader of the Velvet Underground. The Velvet Underground had inspired Bowie when the Exploding Plastic Inevitable made it to the UK. The psychedelic multimedia show of music, lights and art inspired David Jones. Ever the avid student; he absorbed it and made it his own. His alchemy would extend into the music world and reinvent others as it had himself.

Iggy Pop, the sweaty, muscular singer with a proto-punk band The Stooges, was now clad in tight Lurex pants and had black eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. Bowie took Iggy into the studio and allegedly into his bedroom. Bowie’s aesthetic wiped off onto Lou Reed who now dressed in makeup and leather. Reed had taken a walk onto the Wild Side.

As he retired the glitter and paint in favor of Soul Boy clothes, the label of Queerness became an albatross. While good for breaking through indifference into Rock and Roll, rock was still a boy’s club. Even though some of them adopted Bowie’s fey ways, they were still hetero-normative. Bowie, addicted to cocaine and becoming increasingly paranoid retreated further away from Ziggy Stardust. With slicked back blonde hair, classic 30’s suits and a cigarette, he became the nihilistic Thin White Duke. Then Bowie made the famous Hitler Salute in Victoria Station, casting up shadows of fascism. It was apropos. Fascism had destroyed the Weimar Era Drag for the sturm und drang of masculinity.

David Bowie, Queer Star, Jimmi Schrode

As a chameleon, Bowie further reinvented himself and in the 1980’s had a renaissance into New Wave Music. Still, the shadow of homosexuality clung to him. Disavowing and ignoring it, yet, always present. Some Gay People felt betrayed that their idol who led them out of the closet had returned to the closet. It was a fearsome time when Reagan and Thatcher conservatism and AIDS ravaged Gay Liberation.

David Bowie always endured and was relevant in every decade nonetheless. The 90’s saw collaborations with Trent Reznor and Dr. Dre. In the Aughts; Bowie became the crooner he had been with his smash album Heathen. Then he dropped out of sight after a heart attack only to reemerge in time for his final curtain calls with his albums The Next Day and Blackstar. Blackstar saw the artist use his own impending death to craft his final statement, dying soon after.

David Bowie, Queer Star, Jimmi Schrode

To me and many others; Bowie’s act of Sexual Rebellion had forever changed us, bringing a deeper understanding of gender, sexuality and self-expression. Bowie’s image as Ziggy Stardust remains cemented in our psyche. Often copied and rebranded, a white faced Bowie with a bold red and blue lighting bolt in the center of his face crowned with orange hair is how we remember him most; the Queer Bowie. Our Queer Star.

Written by Jimmi Shrode

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Underneath

Underneath, The Life and Art of Gregory Gillespie

John Thornton Films

“A character in a Bruce Springsteen song sings, “Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife, the only thing that I got been bothering me my whole life.” The painter Gregory Gillespie was not that guy. He had a lot in his life including worldly success, loyal friends, a family, and an absolute genius for art. But I do think he also had something that bothered him his whole life.

I met him once when I was a drunken art student and he came to an opening of an important group show of realists that he was in at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I was in the men’s room, and looked over as I was urinating and there he was standing next to me. I yelled his name, stuck out my hand, and he shook it. He was the nicest famous artist I have ever met.

In 1977 when Gregory was only 40 years old, he had a retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. In 2000, age 63, he hung himself.” – John Thornton

Life and career

Gregory Gillespie was born in Roselle Park, New Jersey. After graduating from high school, he became a nondegree student at Cooper Union in New York. In 1959 he married Frances Cohen (1939–1998), who was also an artist, and the following year they moved to San Francisco where Gillespie studied at the San Francisco Art Institute.

In 1962 he received the first of two Fulbright-Hays grants, for travel to Italy to study the work of Masaccio. He lived and worked in Florence for two years, and in Rome for six years, studying the works of such Renaissance masters as Carpaccio, Mantegna, and Carlo Crivelli, who was a particular favorite of Gillespie. During this time he was awarded three Chester Dale Fellowships and a Louis Comfort Tiffany grant. In 1971 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full Academician in 1994.

He had his first solo show in 1966, at the Forum Gallery in New York. In 1970 he returned to the United States, where he settled in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. He exhibited in several Whitney Biennials, and in 1977 the Hirshhorn Museum organized a touring retrospective of his work.

Gregory Gillespie became known for meticulously painted figurative paintings, landscapes, and self portraits, often with a fantastical element. Many of his early works were made by painting over photographs cut from newspapers or magazines, transforming the scenes through photographic collage and by adding imaginary elements. In his later work he abandoned his early fascination with creating hyper-realized realistic imagery, instead focusing on a looser and more expressive style. He often combined media in an unorthodox way to create shrine-like assemblages.

He was found dead in his studio in Belchertown, Massachusetts, apparently a suicide by hanging, on April 26, 2000.” – Wikipedia

Gregory Gillespie, John Thornton Films, Forum GalleryGregory Gillespie, Self Portrait in Blue Hooded Sweatshirt, Forum Gallery

Thank you to John Thornton Films for permission to share this enthralling video.

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Flower Art

Art of the Flower, J D Mitchell

Art of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Donald C. Meyer Medal

Art of the Flower 2015 at The Philadelphia Sketch Club is a juried group art exhibition dedicated to florals in honor of Donald C. Meyer. Dianne Meyer presented the First Prize winner, Kimberle Nentwig for her watercolor painting titled Dahlia Darling, a golden medal in remembrance of her late husband.

The exhibition is an exuberant display of floral artwork, the jurors were Al Gury, chair of the painting department at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Lauren Sweeney, fine artist and Marylyn Waltzer, member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. The entry process is completed on-line at The Philadelphia Sketch Club website and hundreds of artists submitted images for consideration by the jury who then select artworks for the awards. The jurors selected an eclectic mix of media for the awards but being in the show is a goal itself for many regional artists.

View the on-line gallery here.

Art of the Flower, Alice ChungArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Alice Chung, Spring, oil, 17″ x 15″

Spring is all everyone is thinking about, The Art of the Flower show excites the desire to preserve some of that delightful satisfaction of better days. Alice Chung captures a moment of quiet and warmth in her composition, the balance of color, tone and brushwork feels satisfying and serene. Flowers have always been used for decoration, welcoming guests, gifts of love and adornment for sacred ceremonies. Alice Chung‘s Spring is naturally atmospheric, defining a magical moment in time with loose, liquid strokes, empathetic marks and gestural cues to an energetic concept of a space and time of renewal.

Art of the Flower. Doris PeltzmanArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Doris PeltzmanA Cup Full of Peonies, oil on plexiglass, 10″x10″

“I am a direct painter, painting from life to capture the moment. The excitement of the moment and the immediacy are what drive me. It is that total impression that creates the completed painting. focus on color, harmony, light, mood, texture, composition and the calligraphy of my brush strokes. I love to experiment with a variety of palettes and surfaces. It is the visual stimulation that drives and moves me forward.” – Doris Peltzman artist statement, Artists’ House Gallery

A Cup Full of Peonies by Doris Peltzman possesses a subdued yet elegant presence, the painting has an ethereal quality. Even though the palette is restrained, the alla prima mark-making expresses the subject though tone, light and action in powerful impressionism. Peonies are my favorite flower but they really only last a day, Doris narrates that brevity with experience and skill.

Art of the Flower, Suzanne ComerArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Suzanne Comer, Panoply, photo montage on archival paper, 21″ x 17″

Suzanne Comer was so sweet to me at the reception for Art of the Flower 2015 at The Philadelphia Sketch Cluboffering to take a photo of me with my accepted entry. She said people rarely take pictures of me with my work and we each took photos of each other with our artwork. It was a nice surprise to see that both of us had used digital photo montage to make floral artwork. While my composition has an informal composition, Suzanne Comer‘s Panoply is a formal composition with a coherent balance of shape, color and negative space with the charm of individual flowers emphasized.

Suzanne Comer regards photography as an art form, often expanding the boundaries by using portions of her photographs to digitally create a new and different whole or montage. With the perspective of a painter, Suzanne’s style stimulates the viewer’s own interpretation and feelings. Therefore, in full circle, creating new personal meanings” – Media Arts Council

Art of the Flower, The Philadelphia Sketch ClubArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Kimberle Nentwig, Dahia Darling, watercolor, First Prize and Maria Kurtzman, White Roses and Kumquats, oil on board, Second Place

Art of the Flower, Laura DucceschiArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Laura Ducceschi, Lotus in Repose, photography, Third Place

Laura Ducceschi’s photography captures the magical way natural light accentuates beauty in nature and in people. Laura’s award-winning fine art photography portrays an intimate view of our beautiful world. Her images reveal how natural light emphasizes color and texture._ excerpt Laura Ducceschi artist statement

As a photographer and painter I was particularly satisfied to see a top award go to a deserving photograph. Photography isn’t about just shooting hundreds of photos to find a good image, the photographer has to make it happen. The tools of a photographer are not unlike painters, the goals are similar, the time and effort equivalent. To have a jury of peers, experts in their field, select a photograph signals the change in acceptance towards the art form. There are a lot of photographs in the show, Philly is as much a photography town as it is a painters town. The history of photography in Philadelphia parallels PAFA and the influence of photography on modern painting is undeniable.

Art of the Flower, Gus SermasArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Gus Sermas, Morning Flower, acrylic, work on paper, HM

Art of the Flower, J D MitchellArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, J D Mitchell, Chestnut Hill Iris, digital print on 100 lb paper, 12″ x 12″ framed

The excitement of an opening, meeting the artists and their families, taking pictures, drinking and eating, is a social practice that is a reward in itself. It is so much fun to watch folks checking out the competition, eves dropping on critiques and comparing and contrasting the artworks with friends. One wonders why artists subject themselves to the process of acceptance and I think it’s the feeling of accomplishment, aside from the exclusivity, of being recognized for your hard work.

Art of the Flower, Lauren SweeneyArt of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Lauren Sweeney, One Person art show, Observations in Watercolor,  in The Stewart Room Gallery (the pool room).

Dear Artists and Art Lovers,

Please join us at historic The Philadelphia Sketch Club for an ongoing exhibition of works by one of our professional member. Free and open to the public. STEWART ROOM GALLERY New works by Lauren Sweeney. March 7-30, 2015See her Online Gallery under “Sweeney” in our PSC Member Gallery HERE . Reception: Saturday March 21, 20152:00 – 4:00pm at The Philadelphia Sketch Club. Open to all.

A lifetime of scientific observation is the underpinning of the artist’s interest in capturing the essence of her subjects in watercolor. In her still life compositions, she focuses on close observation of the organic forms of flowering plants, vegetables, seashells and gourds for their exuberant variations in shape, color, texture and pattern.” – Lauren Sweeney

Art of the Flower 2015, The Philadelphia Sketch Club through March 28th, 2015

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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Art of the Flower #psc #philadelphia #sketchclub #art #flowers #donartnews

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Theodore J. Amick

Theodore J. Amick, The Plastic Club, Downstairs Gallery

Theodore J. Amick, The Plastic Club, Downstairs Gallery

Theodore J. Amick, The Plastic Club, Downstairs Gallery

Theodore J. Amick, The Plastic Club, Downstairs Gallery

Theodore J. Amick, The Plastic Club, Downstairs Gallery

Theodore J. Amick, The Plastic Club, Downstairs Gallery

DoN talked with Erica Amick, artist Ted Amick‘s daughter about her Dad’s memorial art show in the Downstairs Gallery of the Plastic Club.  “The memorial show for my dad, Ted Amick, is full of his life’s work.  He was always creative.  He was always happy.  He always had a good story to tell you and loved to be around people.  And loved a good time.  So, he would enjoy the show in the gallery, filled with people drinking and laughing and talking.”  So, what’s your favorite piece?  “I don’t have a favorite, it’s all different parts of his life and you can see the progression of his scientific alien stage to a more impressionist stage to just happy picture stage.  He did a portrait of me and my sister and I think that’s one of our favorites.”

DoN mentioned Ted in a blog he wrote back in 2009, the Red, White and Green show and Ted instantly became a buddy with lots of compliments and questions about photography at every Plastic Club reception.  At the awards ceremony February 5th for the current exhibition, Urban Observations, past president Mike Guinn said it best, “He was my brother.”

Ted Amick‘s on-line Guestbook

Plastic Club on Facebook

DoNArTNeWs Philadelphia Art News Blog

Jon Paul Hammond

I first met Jon Paul Hammond on an art crawl to the galleries one Friday evening a few years ago; somehow, without a car, he could travel to multiple venues all across the city in one evening and have a glass of wine with the art-erati, himself a visual sensation drawing attention from the art.  Jon Paul was a culture vulture, like me, and we instantly became confidantes, dishing the dirt on the pretensions and hoaxes we often encountered as well as superlatives for thought-provoking art we liked.  It was comforting to know that when I ventured out alone to an art show, I was sure to see a friendly face, a hug & kiss and a funny anecdote from a friend.  Jon Paul is missed in the Philly art community and his passing reminds me to re-invigorate my art adventures, support my artist friends, search out emerging talent, explore new neighborhoods and challenge my endurance because tomorrow I may be gone.  A lovely memorial webpage has been established in Jon Paul’s honor with thoughtful commentaries from his friends.

Jon Paul Hammond

DoN Brewer & Jon Paul Hammond @ The Warwick Hotel’s, The Coffee Bar, DoN‘s “light beings Art Talk“, Summer 2010.  Jon Paul Hammond offered me encouragement to continue making art and have pride in what I do; what is an art world without knowledgeable art enthusiasts?  I’ll miss Jon Paul’s exuberance and style and his insightful opinions as I explore and report on the Philly arts scene.

 

Photo by Danny Reilly.

light being (Jon Paul Hammond) - DoN Brewer Photography

light being (Jon Paul Hammond), digital photograph, DoN Brewer, 2010.