Category Archives: Painting and Sculpture

Anthologies Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Books Painting Painting and Sculpture

Beyond Baroque — Sabrina Tasaroff’s Installation at the Huntington and Hammer

I have twice visited the Hammer Museum in the past month, both times shortly after a visit to the best dentist in the world, Dr. William Chin. I owe the good fortune of having a dentist worth a 30 mile drive through Los Angeles freeway traffic to the recommendation I got in the 1980s from my dear friends, Bob and Judy Chinello. So much of life is the odd chance meeting. My recollection is that I met Bob and Judy through Sandi Tanhouser, who had known them through her own job. One day in Ocean Park she went to vote and told me when she returned from the polls that she had bumped into friends who turned out to be living just down the street. Over the years, both Bob and Judy were among the handful (along with Brooks and Lea Ann Roddan) who encouraged me when things often looked bleakest, especially in the 1990s. I suppose it’s hard not to get sentimental in one’s old age, but I remember visiting Bob and Judy when they had moved to the San Fernando Valley and going out to the front yard to rake leaves and how it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

The first time I went to the “Made in L.A. 2020 (a version)” show I expected to see the installation created by Sabrina Tarasoff, but it turned out that her work is only at the Huntington Library. There is, however, a plaque on a wall at the top of a staircase that provides information about her project. The museum was more crowded than I expected it to be and there was a line to see one of the exhibits that was long enough to make me want to get on the road back to Long Beach before afternoon traffic got too dense.

The second time I went to the Hammer was this past week. This time it was Linda who had the dental appointment, and we dropped by the apartment of our long-time friend Laurel Ann Bogen, on the way to the Hammer and picked her up, too. On my first visit it had occurred to me to return with copies of several anthologies of Los Angeles poets that could help “frame” Tarasoff’s project. Linda took photographs of Laurel and me holding up anthologies along the plaque listing the Beyond Baroque project.

I was grateful that attendance was much lower the second time so that we could enjoy Brandon D. Landers’s paintings, which I want to visit for a third time. The three of us stood in front of one of them for several minutes, noticing how the man and the woman who were portrayed in the painting were not alone. There was a third figure who had been “painted over,” but whose clothing was still faintly visible under the layer of black paint. I need to spend yet more time with this painting to be able to write a proper appreciation, but it is worth a trip to the Hammer in and of itself to see it for yourself. I usually look at work first before I read any notes put on a museum’s walls, and I had already noticed the frequent appearance of wall sockets in Landers’s paintings when I read a comment on a wall plaque that Landers made in response to a question about them. “I am the outlet,” he said, or at least that’s the way I remember his quip.

We were also impressed with the large-scale paintings of MacArthur Park by Jill Mulled as well as the recreation of Nicola L.’s sculpture that was meant to be interactive, but which we had to refrain from coming into contact with due to the lingering pandemic. Her sculpture, with its inversion of interior and exterior points of view and participatory subjectivity, would earn my vote as my favorite piece except that I think the vote would better serve a living artist, such as Landers.

I have jury duty this coming week, so I will not be able to schedule a visit to the Huntington until I have that obligation cleared off the table.

“Five Anthologies at the Hammer” — Photograph by Linda C. Fry

(Part Two)

Sometimes an anniversary happens to coincide with the cycle of one’s ordinary appointments in such a way as to give the interruption of routine an almost jovial hint of coincidence’s blessing.

This past week marked the 20th anniversary of Linda and me getting married, and I did not want the occasion to be reduced to a dinner out on that evening, so I proposed that we get away from the filthy air of Long Beach on our anniversary and we drive up to Santa Monica to enjoy some fresh air on the beach and get to hear the sound of waves. (Long Beach, contrary to its name, has only a long embankment of sand as the actual figure of its name; the breakwater in the bay forestalls any meaningful surf, and the water is disgustingly foul.) I furthermore proposed that we spend the night at the hotel we spent the single night of our honeymoon at twenty years ago. I was still a grad student back then and had to hurry back to the campus from our wedding in Thousand Oaks to resume my job as a teaching assistant as well as grading papers; so one night was all that could be spared.

We first went to Bergamot Station, where we saw a couple of galleries still very much in business. The painting that impressed me the most was Steve Galloway’s. I am familiar with his work, but want to see more of it as soon as possible. We then went to the beach, my first visit there in quite some time. Whenever I am there, it’s hard for me not to reflect on all the years I lived in Ocean Park and how frequently I would walk down near the spot where we were enjoying the mild sun and breeze.

The Embassy Hotel on Third Street in Santa Monica is now named the Playhouse, and we enjoyed our stay there very much. About a quarter century ago the Minnesota poet Jim Moore (whose book WHAT THE BIRD SEES I published in 1978) came to Los Angeles to read his poetry and he asked me to find a hotel that was not the standard cubicle. I don’t remember how I found out about this place, but he told me that it was exactly what he had fantasized. It’s been refurbished since those years, but it still retains a European ambience.

Staying overnight also had the advantage that driving to Dr. Chin’s office was a matter of a half-dozen blocks, after which we headed to the Hammer.

This is one of the photographs that Linda took of the room. This morning, the words “The Storyteller’s Chair” came to me as I thought about putting the photograph into the blog. And so it is.

(All photographs in this blog post are by Linda C. Fry, who retains the copyright and who has given permission for her photographs to be used in this blog post.)

Baseball Ground Level Conditions Painting and Sculpture

Sister Wendy Beckett; Jameson Taillon; Syed Ali

Wednesday, December 26, 2018



“I’m all for atheists. They have rejected the false god. Now it’s on to find the true one.” — Sister Wendy Beckett (February 25, 1930- December 26, 2018)

* * *

“The quality of your coffee sets the tone for the day. It’s the first moment you have to gather yourself, so why would you want to do it over a crappy cup of coffee?” — Jameson Taillon

* * *

Let us remember, too, that there are police officers out there demonstrating tenacious courage and extraordinary acumen in dealing with situations fraught with potential for tragedy. We should all give a salute of appreciation to NYPD officer Syed Ali, who certainly deserves better treatment he received at the hands of Trump’s bureaucracy.

Books Painting and Sculpture

On Painting, Poetry, and My Old Age (Part One)

Korean - I love you

Hye Sook Park returned from South Korea last week, and Linda and I were able to show the studio space we are going to sublet in San Pedro at The Loft. Someone had told us that the building was not earthquake reinforced, but unless the square blocks spaced several feet apart that gird each side of the building have been glued there for ornamental purposes only, it looks as if it will hold up enough in all but the worst smack-downs. So much of a building’s survival depends on the ground on which it is built that it is a bit of a crap shoot, no matter how much reinforcement you instill in a structure. Back in the mid-1990s, the major earthquake on MLK, Jr., holiday wiped out several buildings in the prosperous neighborhood of northern Santa Monica, whereas the much more working people environs of Ocean Park fared very well. It was mainly the firmer ground of Ocean Park that made the difference.

We went out for lunch together and talked about painting and the commitment it involves. Hye Sook said that my paintings might surprise me in their ability to attract an audience. Perhaps if I had chosen visual art rather than language as a primary means of imaginative work back when I was 20 years old, I might have a larger audience than I do now, but I doubt it. When one starts out poor, ugly, and not particularly gifted in terms of intellect, one should consider oneself lucky to have gotten as far as I have. (Recently, someone commented on social media on my physical appearance, “Not so pretty.” Things have changed much since I was elected “Ugliest Man on Campus” back in Fall, 1964.) It’s highly unlikely that painting would have had a different outcome than poetry. In my case, just as it seems I ended up writing poetry so that I could enjoy the full perplexities of reading it, I would guess that my attempts at painting will primarily end up expanding my capacity to read paintings by those who have devoted their entire lives to that art.

Towards the end of the meal, Hye Sook showed Linda and me a hand gesture that has become popular in Korea, and she says that it has caught on among the fans of a major Korean pop band. When I took out my cell-phone to take a picture of my hand making that gesture, our waitress came by to pick up our empty bowls and plates. She saw me taking a “selfie” of my hand. “I wish I had my flip phone back,” she said.

I wish we had print culture back.

Painting and Sculpture

Long Beach Open Studio Tour

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

For those who do drive to the Long Beach Museum of Art this coming weekend or the following one, I would check out a few of score of artist studios that will be open for a drop-in visit.

A list of all the studios and their addresses, with links to the artists’ work, can be found at the above website. This annual event launched itself this past weekend with studios in the Bixby Knolls area welcoming guests, but the studios most proximate to where I live are opening their doors this weekend, with a follow-up welcome being extended on October 27 and 28.

My spouse, Linda, will be showing her work at the Co-Op, at 1330 Gladys Avenue, Long Beach.

I would also recommend the work of Tina Burnight, Carol Roemer, Marka Burns, and Molly Schleps.

There is an extraordinary amount of painting and sculpture being produced in Long Beach. I may soon defect from poetry! “Why Should I Not Be a Painter?” might serve both as an homage and a manifesto!

Post-Script: For information on two additional artists (Cynthia K. Evans and Peter Zokosky) who are having their opening reception on Saturday, October 20. Their show runs through Dec. 21. For more information:

Get lost in the strange and beautiful paintings of these two contemporary artists on Saturday

Painting and Sculpture

A Major Debut and a Pair of Retrospectives at LBMA

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Long Beach Museum of Art had an official opening last evening for one of the best exhibitions of the year, featuring three artists at various stages of their careers. Substantial selections of their work will be up for view for the remainder of the year, with their shows all simultaneously closing at the end of the first week of 2019. Two of the artists, Narcisso Martinez and Jane Brucker, already had had their shows available for public viewing in the previous two weeks, but last night – as the first storm of the rainy season sneaked up on Southern California — John Sonsini’s portaits of day laborers officially opened, too, and every gallery of the museum is now filled with work that deserves your immediate attention.

The youngest artist, in particular, confronts us with a fact that Marxist theory won’t let us ignore, no matter how much we might want to pretend otherwise: “One cannot tell from the taste of the oats the conditions under which it was grown.” Working with the very materials handled and hauled by hands who have done the labor to bring us the food we eat, Martinez portrays field workers caught in the nets of harvest’s toil. It is important to emphasize that Martinez does not sentimentalize their exploitation. Regardless of whether their faces are enclosed by an improvised “hazmat” suit of baseball cap and bandana, or whether we can see them eating their midday meal, sitting on the ground at the end of a row, these individuals radiate a defiant optimism.

Some of the work on exhibit at LBMA by Martinez has been shown at other venues in recent months. Three large portraits. done in charcoal, of women, including one of his mother, have been on view at a gallery at CSULB, where Martinez received his MFA last spring, as well as at the cultural center of Mexico’s embassy across the street from MacArthur Park two months ago. Using his signature canvas material of “reclaimed produce cardboard,” Martinez’s newest piece, “Always Fresh,” is on the scale of a mural (doing a quick foot shuffle, I estimate it to be just shy of 20 feet in length; as to its height, my guess is around six feet). Its central figure is framed within an oval, as if to imprint upon the viewer’s privilege of consumption a medallion commemorating the anonymity through which the pleasures of hunger are sated. On the right side of this oval, workers have paused to eat a meal themselves, while on the left they are at work sorting the gathered harvest.

One particular detail stands out in Martinez’s use of cardboard that foregrounds the elusiveness of the economic transmission. Flattened out, the cardboard boxes retain the gaps and slots that enable the loaded boxes to be lifted and stacked for shipping, as well as to provide some aeration for the bottom layers of produce. In their literal figuration, these openings also figuratively serve as lenses to our own aporias, the blank spaces of our knowledge of the working conditions of this absolutely necessary labor.

The gap between labor, in which the dispossessed give of themselves with little remuneration, and those who come into possession of the harvest, is emphasized by the presentation of fruits and vegetables in the form of small canvases with images of various kinds of apples, as well as very small canvases (perhaps two inches by two inches) of blueberries. There is no sense that a flngerprint of any sort can be found on this produce. “Always Fresh,” in this case, is meant to ironically mimic the marketing erasure of those who make the most profit from the delivery of the food.

In this exhibition, we are fortunate to be given a chance to witness the emergence of a major new artist. At some point in the next decade, you will find Martinez’s work being exhibited alongside the work of such L.A.-based artists as Mark Bradford, whose “Pickett’s Charge” at the Hirschhorn is one of the most outstanding large-scale pieces I have seen in recent years.

Downstairs from Martinez’s single-room exhibition, another artist has several rooms of portraits of day-laborers, each still young enough to suggest that something unexpected might still occur in their lives, and old enough for the artist to detect the particular vulnerability that has already been wounded beyond any hope of ever being healed. With strident brushstrokes and a generous mesh of colors suitable for day laborers’ clothing, John Sonsini’s depictions of men isolated on an archipelago of economic and emotional dependency sustain our curiosity without ever becoming egregiously voyeuristic. However minimal the resources that these men might be able to call upon for help in getting through their lives with some measure of self-respect, the portraits deflect the uselessness of any temptation to feel sorry for them or to change the conditions of their lives without first making accommodations for the need for our lives to alter to a similar degree.

In Sonsini’s paintings, one absorbs the immediacy of their compositional duration: something has woken up and gazed out at a world previously asleep. The choice to remain in one world or the other seems to be weighing not only on the minds of those depicted, but in the extended trajectory of each enfolded blur of color grasped, then set aside for further meditation.

The retrospective of Jane Brucker’s work offers us a different meditation. She is quietly insistent on the temporality of preservation. One long table top, at least as long as Martinez’s mural contains a panoply of ordinary possessions delicately juxtaposed, as if in a procession towards some equally humble monument, some supplication with a whispered “amen.” Thread spools, chess pieces, eyeglass lenses without the temples, rosary beads, tiny cases of lipstick, forks and spoons that would only seem large if held by the hand of a two-year-old: all these things and much besides spreads out with one intent – to slow us down. Brucker’s exhibition, entitled “Fragile Thoughts,” reveals how little hold we have on that which can stir the strongest feelings in those who survive us.

Her “Memorial Project,” deservedly receives a very large room in which we are asked to ponder how what we are wearing as we visit the museum might well be turned into a work of art. Bruker has taken shirts and other clothes that form – and inform – the front part of the human body, the part where the heart and our breath is thought of in the most intimate fashion – and made that cloth that which embraces the canvas of the “painting.” There were one or two, in particular, that were palpably still extensions of the people who wore it. One sleeve of a shirt was folded in a manner that left its buttons in an open position so as to suggest a chevron. In looking at it, I could almost hear a voice recite John Keats’s poem, “This living hand,….”

All of this work is awaiting your perusal, the sooner the better. Perhaps I will see you there, for I certainly intend to visit it more than once in the coming months.

Long Beach Museum of Art
2300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90803

(562) 439-2119

Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Books Painting and Sculpture

COLA Awards Exhibit, 2018

June 30, 2018 — COLA Exhibit at Barnsdall Park — Municipal Art Gallery of the City of Los Angeles

Last weekend was the final chance to see the exhibit of artists awarded a recent fellowship from the City of Los Angeles, and the only day I was free to make the trip turned out to be on Sunday, since Linda and I attended a memorial service for the brother of one of her oldest and best friends on Saturday. The exhibit only included the visual artists, since the literary and performance awardees had presented their work in mid-month. I was pleased to see that Peter J. Harris had won one of those awards, and wish I could have attended his event.

Of the visual artists, I was especially impressed with the work of Guillermo Bert, Terry Braunstein, Sandra de la Loza, and Michelle Dizon, and the ways in which daunting journeys are undertaken by both imaginary characters and actual individuals. In evoking the social imaginary of public transportation in Los Angeles, for instance, Sandra de la Loza’s installation made use of redacted copies of newspaper articles about the labor strike in 1903 by several hundred Mexican workers, employed on the construction of the Great Pacific Electric Railway. Her redaction underlines the silencing of the workers themselves. According to de la Loza, not a single one of the workers was quoted in the newspaper reports of that labor strike. I hope that de la Loza is able to place a copy of her text at the Huntington Library, as a document that serves to contextualize the price paid by Mexican workers to help Huntington accumulate the wealth that established this cultural resource.

Michelle Dizon made use of written testimony, too, though in her case her imagined author is her great-great-great-granddaughter, Latipa, who shares that name with the artist’s great-great-grandmother. The temporal trajectory of Dizon’s project is over two centuries, from 1905 to 2123; her project brings to mind the ambitious scope of a writer such as the late Octavia Butler. Indeed, the letter in which the “mirror” characters serve as the imagined writer and reader is as eloquent as the best moments in Butler’s writing.

Guillermo Bert’s project was one of the most poignant testimonies to the crisis of migration and its harrowing risks. “Tumble Dreams” elevated over a half-dozen full-size tumbleweeds about seven feet off the ground and projected the face of a migrant from Guatemala as he spoke of the incessant uncertainties of traversing over 1500 miles to be with his sister and her family in Arizona. A small video screen provided a transcription of his words in the original Spanish as well as an English translation.

Finally, I want to give special praise to the work presented by Terry Braunstein, whose “Ladder” cyclorama exuded a magnetically charged dreamscape of people displaying the human impulse to stay upright, no matter how minimal the requital might be. Both clustered in mutual ascent and compelled to climb in solitude, the social life of transcendence has rarely asked us with such quiet resolve to turn from the meditation of the art to our lives and inquire exactly what it is we hold onto so tightly. In at least one way, Braunstein’s book art of “Broken Vow” speaks of the promises that may be next to impossible to fulfill, and yet we remain haunted by that possibility. It is worth noting that my brother-in-law, Vince, and his friend Marcie, met us at the exhibit, and afterwards they commented on Braunstein’s work was their favorite in the entire exhibit.

One might note a circle of women in the lower right hand corner of the bottom of the following two detail photographs I took of Braunstein’s “Ladder.” This circle reminded me of the meditation engaged in by the Living Theater at the beginning of their play, “Frankenstein,” in which the program noted that the ensemble is trying to levitate, and if they do, the play is over. That effort still remains a tantalizing perspective.

Braunstein - Ladder

Braunstein - Ladder Two

In order to give the recognition accorded to the above artists some context, I would note that these COLA awards have gone in the past to some of my favorite artists in this city, including Kim Abeles, Alison Saar, Luis Alfaro, Nancy Buchanan, Robert Flick, Laura Aguilar, Robert Nakamura, John Outerbridge, Jo Ann Callis, Lita Albuquerque, Fran Siegel, and Suzanne Lacy. The writers who have included Wanda Coleman, Katherine Haake, Eloise Klein Healy, Terry Wolverton, Gloria Enedina Alvarez, Jen Hofer, Fernando Castro, Sarah Maclay, Lynne Thompson, Claudia Rodriguez, Peter J. Harris, and Joseph Mattson.

Painting and Sculpture

Hyesook Park and Route 66 on March 31st

Friday, March 30

Hey Sook Wall One

In late April, the West Hollywood Library will host a follow-up reading to last year’s celebration of poems about Sunset Blvd. by asking the featured poets to conjure up the glory days of Route 66.

Linda and I will be making use of that historic road tomorrow afternoon as the final leg of a trip to San Bernardino to see a one-day exhibition of work by the painter Hyesook Park. If anyone wants to take advantage of the early spring weather we are having this week, I would recommend this drive as a chance to see some terrific new paintings and to enjoy the post-rainfall landscape on your way there and back.

Hyesook Park
A One-Day Exhibition
Saturday, March 31, 2018
2 p.m.

Loveart Studio
15551 Cajon Blvd.
San Bernardino, CA 92407

Hye Sook Wall Five

Hye Sook Wall 3

Hye Sook Wall Two

(All photographs of Heysook Park’s paintings by Justin Hahn. (c) Justin Hahn 2018. All rights reserved by Justin Hahn. Posted on this blog with his permission.

Books Bookstores Los Angeles bookstores Painting and Sculpture Performance Poetry

Past Lives: Poet, Editor, Publisher, Continuation School Teacher, and the Beat

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Although I am working on new poems and thinking about which of my past academic talks I should begin revising in hopes of publication, the challenge of setting aside time to make those endeavors my sole concern remains as complicated as ever. A year and a half ago, one of the members of Beyond Baroque’s Board of Trustees asked me to join the Board, a move that I can hardly afford to undertake on a financial level, let alone how much time that requires. Even during times when the GDP of the United States indicates the system’s general economic stability, non-profit arts organizations must negotiate and bargain with a culture that did not particularly want them to last more than a decade or two. To attain the half-century mark is no small achievement, but Beyond Baroque is hardly assured of a sufficient budget for its future programming.

This weekend has been one of the highlights of the spring season. Funded completely out of his own pocket, S.A. Griffin has organized a celebration of the Beat movement, which concludes tomorrow evening with a musical performance by David Amram. Yesterday afternoon, I gave a talk on Venice West, and then moderated a panel at which two of the original members of that community recalled their experiences in considerable detail. Frank T. Rios Joseph Patton, and Gayle Davis talked with each other in an honest manner about the glorious sense of freedom that Venice West exuded along with the eventual confinements of drug addiction. Paton acknowledged that Rios has pulled him out of addiction. Rios, in turn, credited the Poem with saving his life.

Fortunately, UCLA had sent out a camera and a one-man crew to record this conversation, so future scholars of Venice West will understand how much visual art mattered to this scene. It was a pleasure to hear the work of Don Martin and Saul White cited so frequently. I am not certain when the tape will be available for viewing, but I hope that someday it can be posted on-line so that scholars and students have easy access to it.

Oddly enough, Venice West often gets summed up by a quick reference to a handful of poets, and yet the conversation yesterday barely got around to discussing John Thomas, and William Margolis was not mentioned at all. Margolis, who was a close friend of Bob Kaufman’s when he lived in San Francisco, is hardly neglected this weekend, though. He is the subject of a documentary film by Don Rothenberg that will be shown today from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. There will also be a discussion of the Beat and Buddhism with Marc Olmsted, who was also read with Steve Silberman and Tate Swindell in a segment on Gay Beat writing (4:30 – 6 p.m.).

Considering how skittish L.A. residents can be about a rain storm finally showing up after months of a renewed drought, the audiences have been surprisingly large enough to make this festival of the Beat a satisfying occasion and more than worth S.A. Griffin’s extended efforts in putting it all together. Paul Vangelisti, for instance, was supposed to be part of the panel on Venice West, but a dead battery kept him tethered at home. He told me, however, that 30 people had shown up for his reading with Neeli Cherkovski.
About three dozen poets will have read their poetry or talked about the Beat and the Neo-beat by the time David Amram gives a musical performance tomorrow night (Monday, at 9:30 p.m. I truly wish that I had enough time to have been at all the events of this festival. I regret especially not being able to attend the opening ceremonies featuring Frank T. Rios and George Herms, as well as the “Women of the Beat Generation Reading.” I would have loved to have heard Yama Lake, Larry Lake’s son, read, too, as well Marc Olmsted. In addition, Michael C. Ford and Will Alexander were giving talks.

One of the highlights of this festival, however, was probably the “Punk & Beat reading” by Linda J. ALbertano, Iris Berry, Jack Brewer, Michael Lane Bruner, S.A. Griffin, Doug Knott, and A. Razor. All I can say is that I want an extended encore presentation at a time that allows me to absorb the full ramifications of these lifetimes of contumacious poetics.

It was perhaps appropriate that I began the day by meeting with Pedro Paulo Araujo, who is working on a short animated film based on the final two stanzas of Leland Hickman’s poem, “The Hidden.” That poem was one of ten “Elements” that was published in Hickman’s Great Slave Lake Suite in 1980. I met with Pedro at 10:00 a.m. at Portfolio Coffeehouse in Long Beach to discuss Hickman’s poetry in general and that poem in particular. I gave him a copy of “Lee Sr. Falls to the Floor,” which Lee had written in the mid-1960s, as a means of providing some background for Lee’s life-long wrestling with the sudden death of his father. Pedro became interested in Lee’s poetry because his film company is working on digitizing the audio tapes of readings at Beyond Baroque. One recent tape he worked on was a reading Lee gave with Barrett Watten in 1984, on one of the coldest nights that anyone in Venice could recall. The audience was very small – maybe about eight people – and almost all of us at one point or another had to get up and walk around the read area of the folding chairs in order to warm up. We were bundled up in sweaters and jackets, but it wasn’t enough. Still, it was one of the best readings I ever attended.

Before heading off to my meeting with Pedro, I took a quick look at the first set of galleys for my forthcoming book from What Books. The typeface seems on the comfortable and familiar side, and perhaps that will work out for the best. The poems, which appear in both English and Spanish, are varied enough in their shapeliness that a more unusual typeface might prove distracting. I’ve waited a long time for this book and can’t wait to send my closest friends a copy.

Finally, I want to mention how much I appreciated seeing Carolyn Rios at yesterday’s event at Beyond Baroque. I worked with Carolyn’s students at Venice Continuation High School for several years (1989-1996). Most of the time I was an artist-in-residence funded by the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles. The CPITS (California Poets in the Schools) program had largely lost its impetus, at least in Southern California, by the mid-1980s, and I had turn to other sources for support in order to teach poetry to young people. Although I worked at other continuation high schools, too, Venice Continuation High holds a special place in my heart. I guess I have indeed aged, though. Carolyn at first did not recognize me, even though we were in Beyond Baroque’s lobby for several minutes before we happened to start talking to each other. On the other hand, until she took off her beret, I did not recognize her, either. Once memory had adjusted to present perception, though, we both felt as young as ever.

Birding Music Painting and Sculpture Photography

Ron Ozuna’s Photographs of Bolsa Chica

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bird Photographs and Other Links

Ron Ozuna has been traversing California’s wetlands for several years and taking photographs of birds, and I am delighted to have gotten his permission to share links with his work. The other links in today’s post have been chosen out of variety of my reading and listening to music the past couple weeks. It’s a cold and windy morning here in Long Beach, California, and it is supposed to get much more chilly tonight. I only wish that some rain would arrive.

Stream 74 Sun Ra Albums Free Online: Decades of “Space Jazz” and Other Forms of Intergalactic, Afrofuturistic Musical Creativity

If you want to see more of Ron Ozuna’s avian advocacy, see the following links:

Ron Ozuna at MONO LAKE and elsewhere:


2016_05_15_0wens Lake

2016_05_17_Hahamongna Devils Gate Dam:

2016_05_19_Central Park & Library Huntington Beach:

Piute Pond (near Lancaster)

Obituaries Painting and Sculpture

Domenic Cretara — Masterful Artist and Extraordinary Teacher — R.I.P.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Domenic Cretara (March 29, 1946 – December 22, 2017)

When Linda and I got home from Thousand Oaks last evening, we learned through social media that one of the professors I most admire at CSULB, Domenic Cretara, had died on Friday, December 22nd. The news put a very somber glow on the day’s festivities, for Domenic still had much more drawing and painting awaiting his pencils and brushes, and I am very sorry that his studio will no longer hear the quiet shifting of the models’ bodies.

I met Domenic when Linda was taking classes at CSULB to get her BFA. I would occasionally find myself in a Fine Arts building when he had his students’ work spread out along a hallway, and I always felt compelled to stand at the edge and watch him praise, cajole, and verbally nudge his students to aspire to the highest degree of their potential. He always made useful suggestions as to what the student should think about in continuing to work on a particular painting or drawing. There was nothing vague about his critique. He got right to the point, and it was specific advice that even I as a non-artist could see was exactly what the painting needed. Quite simply, he was one of the best teachers I ever saw, and I never left his presence without feeling rededicated in my profession as a teacher of literature.

Truly fine teachers are often at a disadvantage in having their work admired as much as it deserves. While Domenic was an internationally recognized and admired artist, he carried none of egregious aura of “success” as he went about his daily life. He was a rare human being, and I feel very fortunate to have known him.

If anyone who reads this knows of someone who studied art at CSULB, you might pass on the word that Domenic Cretara’s memorial service will be on Friday, Dec. 29 at 10:30 AM, at the Luyben Dilday Mortuary Chapel, 5161 Arbor Road, Long Beach, CA 90808.

Here are some links to learn more about his art and skill as a teacher: