Archive for the Me Category

On a personal note, a fellow(s) and his dogs

Posted in Me, Pugs on October 12, 2011 by babylonbaroque

For my Facebook friends, pardon the redundancy, but for my other readers, just a little snippet of my personal life. I live in a dog friendly neighborhood, so much so that my neighbor, the photographer Scott Witter  has put together a series entitled Dog People. My daily walks with the four beasts , two carried about in a flamboyant John Deere wagon aroused Scott’s attention. He graciously asked us to be part of his series. We of course were tickled, the result follows.

photograph by Scott Witter

Family Portrait

The Better Half, buddy the daschund, Rose the tripod  pug-dog, Speck, the most perfect chihuahua, and Viola the pug-dog


click on image to enlarge

Arts district , Los Angeles Not only was Scott gracious enough to include our little family in his project, he named us “Dog People of the Day”, blog post follows.

Thank you Scott!

The Cycle Continues, Vanitas, Aging and the Inevitable

Posted in 16th cent, Aubrey Beardsley, Death & the Maiden, Hans Baldung Grien, Me on August 15, 2011 by babylonbaroque

Perhaps it is merely a symptom of my summer holiday nearing to its close.

The Spouse and I spent several halcyon days in San Francisco , our daily anxieties pushed aside. But we have now returned to our regular concerns.

Upon this return,  I have been re-experiencing a bit of depression ; it might be a symptom of my own aging ( I recently turned one year shy of five decades). When I see myself in the mirror, it causes me pause. This reflection causes me to look more deeply at my situation. I attempt to avoid morbidity ( as natural an inclination as that may be for me) but one cannot escape the sand slipping through hourglass. This is a fact that I am becoming increasingly more aware of. The fortunate effect of this awareness  is that  I am now struggling with my own authenticity more aggressively. The notion of Vanitas, not merely personal admiration, but the silly distractions that seems to rear up time and again, is of pressing interest .

I am actively trying to recognize the temptation of such follies when they cross my daily path, with that in mind, my attention turns to Hans Baldung -Grien. I can think of few artists who explored the notion of Vanitas more thoroughly. I have taken impish delight in his menacing skeletal Deaths cavorting with oblivious Maidens for years; but  I am now  looking more closely. I have actually never seen a Baldung in the flesh (so to speak), only from illustrations; but even from such inferior sources I am aware of the richness of his understanding. This former apprentice of the great Dürer seems to have captured the universal struggles of Man: the conflict between  fragile beauty and pleasure and  the inflexible wall of eternity, our own  brief moment, and what we must do with it.

Baldung captured the gravitas and left room for a smile.

 Hans Baldung Grien



Death and the Maiden


oil on limewood

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

I particularly admire the theThree Ages being depicted in one panel, her infant self toying innocently with the veil (of Life?), her lovely Maiden self deeply absorbed in her  own beauty, how can one blame her?, her middle- aged, sobered Crone  rushing froward to fend away Death.

I find myself more and more identifying with the sobered Crone.

Death and the Maiden


oil on panel

 Öffentliche Kunstsammluna, Basel

Our fair Maiden seems to have lost the battle.

Three Ages of Man


oil on panel

Museo del Prado

I find the landscape of particular interest, the owl such a curious figure.

One of my own paintings has been accepted in a juried show; in order to avoid further Vanitas it is worth noting that the show is in Glendale California at the Brand Library and Art Gallery.

Glendale is perhaps best remembered as the provincial  backwater that drove dear Veda to distraction (and murder?) in the marvelous Mildred Pierce.

That said I am of course pleased.

The painting is my own modest exploration of Vanitas, it is about two years old; at the time I was a bit intrigued with LA’s Low-Brow movement, that interest has passed, but the painting lingers, a testament to Vanitas on multiple levels. 

by the author

 Nod to Aubrey


acrylic and canvas, gold leaf

 As the title suggests, the painting it is my own play on the great Aubrey Beardsley and his fascinating depictions of fetus. They have captured my imagination for years and I wished to explore the theme myself. It of course was natural/predictable to include a Death figure.

By the great A.B of course , marvelous, creepy fetus and an odd-ball assortment of fiends.

I will close with a few more images of Baldung, he not only depicted the Three Ages with much understanding, he tackled the Fall of Man time and again. What I found so interesting with the following image is that instead of poor beleaguered Eve being depicted as the Eternal Temptress once again, Adam seems to be the culprit to our Downfall. He is at the very least a lascivious accomplice. 

Adam and Eve


oil on panel

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

I will close with one last image, a detail from another Adam and Eve (1524), because he is quite a fetching Adam.

I refuse to resist Vanitas completely!

Adam and Eve , detail of Adam


oil on panel

Szépmûvészeti Museum, Budapest

I appreciate your indulgence i f I tended towards the maudlin.

Until next time, I wish you well,

Babylon Baroque

Punch Amidst the Roses

Posted in 19th Century, 20th century, Babylon Baroque, Franz Bischoff, Kenny Scharf, Me on March 22, 2011 by babylonbaroque

A recent painting was accepted as part of a juried show here in LA at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, I was of course pleased.


by the author

colored pencil on paper

oil on canvas

Although only a student show, it is of course flattering to have your work hung upon  the unblemished white walls of a museum, a nifty nameplate puffs up one’s ego. Alas that was soon deflated.

The work most valued eluded my sensibilities, I do appreciate the notion of conceptual art, but I fear much of what is praised smacks of the Emperor’s newest wardrobe.

Or perhaps I am just griping about sour grapes.

Instead of being a pill I decided to explore the other galleries. I was pleased that I made that the decision, for I found a world quite separate from the bed-frames hanging from the ceiling, here in these empty galleries I found color, skill and the sort of painting that has long been out of fashion- the painting of lovely roses.

I know, rose paintings tend towards the insipid, but these were vibrant, strong, big juicy globs of oil truly capturing the essence of the rose.

These paintings were by an artist I was quite unfamiliar with, Franz A. Bischoff, an Austrian by birth, who  ultimately set root in Pasadena. Apparently successful enough with his lush paintings, delicate china decoration,  lessons to  society matrons and  even a line of supplies, that he was able to build a lavish neo-Renaissance home/studio enjoying fame and comfort.

Franz A. Bischoff

b. 9th January 1864

d. 5th February 1929

Tastes have certainly changed, but the Pasadena Museum put on quite a nice exhibition of his work, Gardens & Grandeur, porcelains and paintings of Franz A. Bischoff.

Unfortunately the show closed on the March 20th, but I revisited the gallery with the specific intention of sharing his paintings. He was known for his plein air work but I must confess I found them less exciting, at least en masse.

The roses seemed special.

They  reflect a time when painting for paintings sake was valued,when the craft of painting  was cultivated and admired.

Or perhaps I have adopted my grandmother’s taste…

Perla van Gadensberg Roses



watercolor on paper




detail of above

detail of same painting, I’m just very impressed with the thick use of paint and yet still a masterful control of his medium, tricky business.



A Bouquet of Roses


White and Pink Maman Cochet Roses


detail of above

Roses on a Tea Table


As the title of the show implies, Bischoff was gifted in the art of porcelain painting.

I admit, they may be an acquired taste.

Bischoff’s paintbox

Although the Bischoff show has ended, my painting, if you are inclined will be on view April 3rd through the 24th.


In some ways the museum’s  garage decorated by Kenny Scharf is as charmingly old fashioned as a Bischoff bouquet.

Difficult to not include it.

the author in a Scharfian fantasy

Wishing you all a pleasant evening,

Baroque Baroque

Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Posted in Alphonse Mucha, Blessed Virgin Mary, Chris Ofili, Me, Otto Mueller, Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Although it is difficult to forget Her feast day in this City of Angels, I did.

Driving around the streets of Boyle Heights , exploring with the Beloved, I stumbled upon many charming vignettes dedicated  to Marian devotion.

Somewhere in Boyle Heights

I particularly love the images of household necessities flanking the deity.

The tale of Juan diego’s encounter on December 9th 1531 is well known.In 1754 Benedict XIV declared the Guadalupe as Patroness of New Spain.

This official recognition of this unusual apparition would henceforth inspire fierce devotion and nationalistic pride.

If the Spaniards thought that switching the goddess Tonantzin with a brown skinned Madonna would secure indigenous loyalty to the Mother Church; they probably hadn’t counted on Miguel Hidalgo’s rallying his countrymen to revolution with his 1810 Cry of Independence, “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe”.

Standard of Miguel Hidalgo



It is difficult to not feel that Virgin of Guadalupe has been used as a political tool for multiple agendas.

She isn’t the first incarnation of maternity to have aroused controversy, Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary (1996) comes to mind. This painting caused a bit of a row in 1999 when it was part of the Brooklyn Museum’ s Sensation exhibition. Although the painting in my opinion is inoffensive, the controversy arose when area Catholics objected to Ofili’s use of elephant dung as one of the materials used to create the image. Ofili had used elephant dung in previous works as an exploration of his Nigerian heritage. That was not how the area Catholics saw it; the Holy Mother was being defamed.

The Holy Virgin Mary


Chris Ofili

b. October 10th 1968

Manchester, England


more info

Alphonse Mucha expressed his outrage at the cultural excesses of the Austro Hungarian empires desire to annihilate Czech culture. His 1912 poster the Lottery of National Unity was an elegant campaign for funds needed  to support the private schools devoted to preserving the Czech language in the face of Teutonic repression.

Lottery of National Unity


Alphonse Mucha


Although I have little to substantiate the claim  I personally  believe the German Expressionist painting by Otto Mueller (1874-1930)  The Polish Family expresses similar outrage at injustice.

The Polish Family

Otto Mueller


The unconventional interpretations of the Virgin inspired me to create  my own, drawing upon my brief tutelage under the Russian iconographer Vladislav Andreyev I attempted to create a visual Act of Contrition for Western Excess. Upon a base of reclaimed plywood, I assembled a day’s worth of my recycled trash. It is telling that although the plywood was 4 feet by 3, I was unable to make use of it all. The following is the modest result of my efforts, I am afraid it was perhaps best left as a theory. I appreciate your indulgence.

Our Lady of Perpetual Refuse

by the author


Please enjoy this feast day as it draws to a near, if you are as fortunate as I am to be able to stumble upon impromptu shrines, enjoy them for their charm and heartfelt sentiment.

Take care, and have a marvelous week.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

Mucha Madness

Posted in 19th cent., Alphonse Mucha, Blessed Virgin Mary, Me, Mucha, Orientalist, Sarah Bernhardt on October 1, 2010 by babylonbaroque

It is difficult to not explore Mucha when discussing divine Sarah. The man was essential to her image of HighGlamour.

He has greatly influenced my taste from very early on.

As a boy of eight my wildly eccentric Nana presented me with a wonderful  Whitman’s tin, it bore the image of the familiar “Zodiac” panel (inside Nana had stuffed it with lead soldiers from WWI, marvelous toys). The tin was a wonder to me,   I probably loved it more then the soldiers ( as I said before, I was a sissy boy). This exotic box with it’s  scratched and rusted Orientalist decoration opened a world of beauty known as Mucha to me.

Thank you Nana, recquiscat in pace.

As I mentioned Mucha controlled, with meddling, Sarah’s image.

This famous poster of Miss Bernhardt from the production of Gismonda is well known.


1895 printed by Lemercier

It is one of my favorites.

The glamour shot that follows, it’s inspiration.

It is tempting to go on about Mucha’s work, but others have done a much finer job then I am capable of.

He is justly popular.

I will focus on the trivial, as that is where my talents happily  lie.

Let’s discuss Mucha’s pretty Studio, it’s a grand affair.

I’m thinking this is his second studio, rue Val de Grace, 1895. He had another,charmingly described as” above Madame Charlotte’s cremerie”. I  don’t profess to be a Mucha scholar, I just like pretty pictures.

Location may be uncertain, but it’s influence on my taste is abundantly clear. It is a magical place.

Mucha’s studio.

Anyone who knows my taste is aware of my affection for graven images, the Madonna front and center drives me mad.

I wish my own work warranted such brazen display.

Loving the stuffed pheasant, always room for taxidermy.

In my own modest way, I have attempted to recreate Mucha-stile in my own home studio.

Mucha-stile on a budget.

Authors home studio, my pugdog Daisy in foreground, dachshund  Buddy further on.

As I said Mucha still inspires, I still have the Whitman’s tin, more scratched and rusty as ever, but still treasured.

Nana’s gift to her sissy grandson.

The inspiration for the tin, the Zodiac panel.

Zodiac panel.

In addition to a shared love of writhing foliate bejeweled ornament and overdecorated studios, Alphonse Mucha and I share a birthdate. I am quite pleased with that coincidence.

Alphonse Maria Mucha

self portrait

b. July 24th 1860

d. July 14th 1939

(as I was born in “62 perhaps I will live to 2039 or so, hope so)

Mucha died in Czechoslovakia, a victim of Nazi harassment. Shortly after German occupation, they interrogated poor Alphonse. clearly a man capable of making such loveliness couldn’t handle the thuggery. He died shortly after the assault.

Although the Nazis had banned attendance to his funeral, 100,000 bravely defied the order and gave Mucha the respect due to a great genius.

Recquiscat in Pace

for further interesting tidbits, please check out  the Mucha Foundation site

Have a great weekend.

Good Shabbos!

A Little Birthday Ditty

Posted in Me, Rime of the Ancient Marinere, The Tiger Lilies on July 24, 2010 by babylonbaroque

As I have thus far not included music into my posts, I thought it time to do so.

To celebrate my birthday I have enclose this uplifting little ditty from the Tiger Lilies, based on the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, “Living Hell”.

It does NOT reflect my mood, honestly!

I do love this interpretation of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Marinere,

Of course I also love Dore’s spin on the tale,

I love the redemptive aspects of the tale, this man so out of touch, burdened by guilt and bitterness, he ultimately is indeed redeemed and is aware of the beauty about him.

“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”
I love the memory of Church, peacefulness, and optimism that the phrase evokes; “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, a childhood favorite.
Well, thanks for the indulgence, have agreat weekend.