A Measure of Life, 2021

On one of my first walks around the neighborhood within the first couple of weeks that I was living in North Adams, MA, I took this picture. I was looking up the trunk of a fruit tree which had not yet blossomed. I printed the photograph and tacked it to my studio wall where I hang images that are interesting to me. The silhouetted forms outlined in the picture were bold and stark and invited understanding. I waited for months before I even approached trying to elevate the blatant linearity and the exquisite balance elicited within the natural forms to a piece of art.

One day, I rolled out a huge piece of paper onto a wall in the studio. I left it blank for weeks. And then one day, I took a medium width marker and just started sweeping it across the page in the rhythm of the predominant curve in the photo and I kept going until I had completed the drawing of what was in the picture. The image did not fit the size of the paper so I had to imagine how to complete the border that remained.

I used the outline of the template I had made from the drawing of the dead branch to fill the width of the outside margin beyond the large drawing. When I realized that was not enough to satisfy me, I stopped for working on the piece for awhile.

One Sunday afternoon, I was lying on my floor listening to music beneath the spider plant hanging from the trim of the window nearby. When I looked up, I could see the answer for how I could would complete the emptiness of the margins. I would draw baby spider plants growing off the unfinished sections of the main tree drawing. (Details One and Two below.)

The bottom section of the unfinished part of the tree drawing still begged for some other imagery.

The first ever outdoor show called Groundwork at the Clark Art Institute was open and I finally went to see it. On the hike around the exhibit near the trails that extend beyond the museum, I took the next picture.

This photo became fodder for how I would draw the bottom section of the tree drawing. (Detail Three.)

All the visual information I had collected from my new living environment had contributed to a major drawing, the one shown below.

A Measure of Life, 2021, 60 in h x 88.75 in w, ink and marker on rag paper, titled and signed on verso
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail One
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail Two
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail Three

Virtual Drawing, 2021

Carole Kim and I met in 2011 at the premiere of Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers at the RedCat Theater in Los Angeles, CA. She participated in the performance by contributing to the video presentation on the huge screens behind the stage where the musicians played.

Her work has always attracted me because she deals in the interaction of layers. In my own drawings, I think in terms of layers and outgrowths. In static drawing, in which I participate, I cannot create, motion and change and depth except in the act of drawing that becomes frozen and, in essence, unchangeable. Only in the viewing does the potential for an image’s morphing in the mind’s eye exist.

This video realizes a dream that I have had about how my drawings can be. Without Carole, I would never have been able to achieve that dream.

Branch Shadows 1-8, 2021

These black and white drawings are seminal to becoming settled in my new studio.

The branch from the dead tree outside the back door of my new abode was going to be thrown away. The person who sold me my living and working space was aware of my work; he held it up one day and asked me if I wanted it; I said, yes. And I drew a picture of the branch. It was the beginning shape to my new vocabulary.

Four Panels, Mountain and Branches, 2021

These panels reflect my new environment. The mountain “lines” represent the Berkshires in MA. And the branches images come from a template I made of a drawing I did of a branch broken off a dead tree/bush once planted outside my door.

The incorporation of the drawings into the panel format demonstrates the influence of Japanese panel paintings from the turn of the 20th century.

Four Panels, Mountains and Branches 1-4, 2021, 60 inch high by total 91.75 inches width, colored pencil on black rag paper
Mountain and Branches 1, 2021
Mountain and Branches 2, 2021
Mountain and Branches 3, 2021
Mountain and Branches 4, 2021
Mountain and Branches, 2021, detail 2
Mountain and Branches, 2021, detail 1


This drawing is called Uprooted. It is large, sixty inches by sixty-two and one half inches. In my new studio, I found a substantial piece of paper I had been saving from the roll of paper from which I cut a particular size for a recent commission for a collector in Washington, DC. and just pinned to the wall with bull clips on a wire in a kind of desperate, relieving act.

The “concept” inherent in this piece arose from the situation where I was compelled to sell my home of forty-two years; a home that was situated in the country on two acres of land on which a multitude of plants, trees, flowers grew and where a diverse group of indigenous animals lived.

My destination thankfully became a one floor condominium in a house in the city of North Adams, MA. The new abode is the size of one floor of my former residence. In fact, when I was still living in my house, I often imagined what it would be like to live on one floor. My imaginations came to fruition. I do not live in a loft. I do not live in a development. I live on the second and third floors of a house built in the 50’s.

The trip from beginning to end, from my house to my condo, took nine months.

Packing absorbed every day. It was my job.

I sent nearly fifty boxes and packages away, containing art books to an art archive, music books to those aficionados who would appreciate them, all my son’s belongings that he had left behind, and other objects which would have been useful to their recipients. Only two boxes of odds and ends went to Goodwill. A carload of plastic bins went to a high-end consignment store.

I made no art. Except for the commission arranged by my gallery. And even so, to do that I had to set up another workspace in the house because my studio was gradually becoming filled with boxes, so many that I could not easily walk through the room.

The moving experience drained my emotions and the clarity of my thinking “outside of the box.” I was doing it alone. With the valuable support from my friends in phone conversations that lasted an hour at a time.

However, my extraordinary capacity for organizing and being resourceful kicked in. That was the creative aspect of the whole venture.


Poetry on its own.

The energy expended to set up my new home drained me as well. My body and mind have to recover.

Much of the time the thought that this is the last place I will live haunts me. The notion of “finality” seems to be omnipresent. Perhaps it is for the reason that I have to work so hard to transcend it by merely going through the days and nights.

Uprooted embodies an aspect of the process of transcendence. It is an explosive description of the trauma that I underwent. Nevermind the pandemic and the horrors of 2020.

This drawing also embodies the beginnings of re-grounding without digging up dirt.

A period of decomposing and rearranging my chemistry to seize the life left to live.

I open the door and walk through it.

I find the water. I find the woods. I look up at the sky. I breathe. I elevate my senses. I recharge my consciousness.

I open the door and walk through it again.

This time I lock it and open the windows.

I eat chocolate.

I make art.