Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oh--and this one too...

Just so we're current--"The American Investor":

I've been working hard. My weariness amazes me. I'm stranded on my feet.

Actually the line goes "I'm branded on my feet", but what the hell does that mean? Is it a cow thing? Some kind of technical term? Feel free to comment--I'm going to bed.

B3, Volume 2

And this, finally:

This is "Barack 3", a small (2 x 2 1/2') commissioned piece.

Me? I like it. Just to the right of his mouth, in the little balloon? "Finally, some brains in [the] office."

Me? As Smokey Robinson might have said, I second that emotion. Of course, that said, we could have elected my daughter's Meaghan's puggle Chloe and we would have experienced an intellectual upgrade. But now's not the time to be bad-mouthing the Bush administration. I'm too busy painting them. We'll get to the nasty stuff later.

The commentariat weighs in...

A couple of posts below somebody offered the following comment:
SEO排名不好玩= =
I then tossed it into the Google Chinese to English translator and came up with this:
Second-hand furniture and cheap and easy to use
Introduce you to move the company well
Which tea tastes better buy it!
A sister film to look much better
SEO ranking is not fun = =
What does SEO rankings?
Parallelism on how fast SEO! You will not let you
Find a good moving company, please look at the Yellow Pages
Choose how to move the company is better
Farm Chingjing very suitable place for leisure
Really annoying
You do the math.

Me? I'm thinking it's about time, 972 posts into The Year of Magical Painting, that somebody offered something interesting in the comments section.

Scenes from Paul Simon's "Graceland" ...

Just so we're clear, as regards "Nipple/Schnabel" (formerly "Big Fucking Julian"), we started with this portrait of the famous plate-painter Julian Schnabel...

We then carved holes in the goddam thing where, for reasons that were important at the time but which are less so now, I had goobered big red dots on the face of the painting. We then inserted twenty traditional latex baby-bottle nipples (as opposed to the more "natural" nipples that companies like Gerber or whoever just made up out of whole cloth with the hopes that "new" nipples would be the windfall for the baby bottle industry that the invention of compact discs was for the record industry), one of which which you can see me holding here.

This, in part, parenthetically speaking, is why I got out of corporate marketing. I mean, really!

Anyway, once the nipples were inserted I took this big clump of Christmas tree lights that I had lying around the studio (one wonders why, certainly, such a thing would be lying around the studio but there they were and who, as Paul Simon might ask, am I to blow against the wind?) ...

... and festooned the the back of the goddam thing with them, more or less stretched and stapled in a grid designed to provide even backlighting for the nipples themselves.

Which then, provided you turn the lights off and allow for a long exposure on your snappy Nikon digital SLR, yielded this:

Oh my God!

It ended up way better than I thought.

I brought several friends into the studio tonight to take a look and render judgements. The most attractive one suggested that, when I do my gallery show of the Nipple/Bush Cabinet (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzalez), I turn all the lights off and provide little alters with votive candles in front of each one (much the way my main painting table functions in the photo above). People can then write shit on little bits of paper (a la visiting the Wailing Wall in J-Town) and tuck them into a bowl next to the candles.

This idea seemed like a strong one. I could probably write a book about it.

She then asked "Don't I know you from the cinematographer's party?", which made me feel very lucky indeed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Having my portrait taken

I got asked the other day if I would mind having my portrait taken by a guy named Jason LeCras. You can see his work, although not, as yet, his work on me, on his blog, titled Wild Blue Yonder. Which is an excellent name for a blog.

This is one of his shots.

It turns out he had written something on "The Screaming Pope" (possibly on the same day he took this picture, since I would have been standing just out-of-shot to the left, with my painting propped against the side of a building you can't see but might perhaps have been able to had Jason used a wider lens. He appears to be a 50mm guy, for good or for bad.), so how could I say no.

I wonder if that's my foot.



Behold "Barack 3" as a work in progress. Having some camera-interface trouble so this image is a bit old. Much has since been done, although I've kept a lot of the roughness you can see in the image. That said, I cleaned up most of the white area, added a few details, gave him a lovely tie, inscribed the title across the top, etc.

FYI--B3 is a small painting, done on commission for a couple whose names--as is typically our wont here at The Year of Magical Painting--shall remain unrevealed. It measures 24x30. Inches.

Imagine how cool if it was twenty-four by thirty feet! Here's a close-up to help you envision:

Back to the roughness business, I like how this one reminds me, sort of, of that big bronze bust of JFK at the Kennedy Center.

An engaging juxtaposition, if I do say so myself.

Regarding the topmost image, I forgot to color correct it before posting it, but the white background is actually white. And the president is actually black. Despite the yellows, reds and blues.

Back to the purchasors. I like the "O" in purchasors even though my spell check doesn't. The way things happen is this: you get an email out of the blue; you have a telephone conversation; you meet for lunch or a snort; you schedule a studio visit; the studio visit goes well; you take a deposit; you paint the painting; you deliver the painting, heart in mouth for fear that they'll say something along the lines of "Your work is crap, my friend. Keep the freakin' deposit. No way we're taking delivery"; then you wait for the next email.

My first meeting with ... let's call her Simka ... happened at Elmo, by the way. Which, really, is the epicenter of much of what passes for the spectacle of Geoff Raymond these days. And I like the circularity of that.

And speaking of Elmo, I was eating brunch there on Sunday and an Elmo person asked me if I still wanted to paint her portrait (we had discussed the matter about six months ago and I had assumed she had decided to take a pass--which is okay, by the way). Now I haven't heard from her and I'm thinking she's still decided to take a pass. Which is okay, by the way.

Although I do have one recurring painting fantasy (actually I have a number of them, including painting my own chapel like my boy Matisse): I'd love to do a fourteen or so foot, two panel reclined nude (semi-nude) of an Elmo person, then talk them into a show called "The Women of Elmo."

The reclined nude might look something like this:

It goes over the bar. Can you imagine? I'd actually use this one (it has an Elmo connection), except it's too big. I do love this painting, by the way. Although, in a perfect world, I'd have given her breast just a skootch more fullness. The silhouette is too flat.

I had, by the way, just gotten back from seeing the Gauguin show in Boston when I painted this. If you use your imagination you can see his influence on the left panel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Have you seen this one?

This is "The American Investor" with one afternoon of annotation at my local watering hole.

A couple of annotations I like a lot:

"There are maggots in my portfolio!!!"--Which is a reference to the plot device from the original movie (Battleship Potemkin) where the sailors find maggots in their food and, push comes to shove, mutiny.

'The handle toward my hand"--this is, I believe, MacBeth seeing a vision of a dagger.

"I am Spartacus!"--self-explanatory.

and best of all...

"I made my bones when you were bangin' cheerleaders."--As noted a post or so below, I had the pleasure of watching the first two Godfather movies last week. The made my bones" line is a quote from Moe Greene talking to either Fredo or Michael Corleone. I think Michael. The actual line goes "I made my bones when you were dating cheerleaders" but, hey, who's counting. Later in the movie, in the famous baptism montage (montage being a concept developed by Sergei Eisenstein, director of "Battleship Potemkin"), Moe Greene gets shot in the eye. This is Moe, caught just as the idea of being shot through the eye is sinking in:

I think blood comes pouring out about a nanosecond later (although I think this image is a publicity shot, not an actual screen-cap).

Further to this whole montage business, Dan Shaw writes:
The careers of Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma, Nicholas Roeg, Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone (to name just a few), and much of the dynamism of the music video scene, would have been inconceivable without Eisenstein's ground-breaking experimentation. In Alexander Nevsky, he was one of the first directors to cut a film to the rhythm of pre-existent music, and not just have the music played or composed to match the film. Many of the most memorable sequences in film history (e.g., the final climax of The Godfather, with Al Pacino renouncing Satan at his son's baptism as his henchmen simultaneously enact multiple murders at his behest) would never have been shot had the Easy Riders and Raging Bulls of the 1970s not studied Eisenstein at length in the film schools of the 1960s.
So it's not just me talking here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wow--the pagans are stoning me

St. Timothy, just for the record, was stoned to death by pagans.

This by way of introducing an anonymous comment I just received for my "McCain and Obama" post of November 4th.

Here, for reference, is the post:

McCain and Obama

Here are photos of "The Annotated McCain 2..." and "The Annotated Obama 2..." as of late this evening.

As usual with my political paintings, red markers are for Republicans; blue for Democrats; black for Independents.

Each is for sale for $15,000 although the set (which is cool) goes for $25,000.

Push "contact me" or email me at to make an offer.
And the comment was this:
who the fuck are they?

that looks nothing like obama, learns to paint!

and the pathetic meaning that you put into your paintings to make them seem deep, to target more 'intellectual people' is also pethetic

And then Dealbreaker says "St. Timothy" doesn't look "anything like The Geith."

A note on the anonymous comment and, tangentially, the Dealbreaker business:

First, I find it interesting that people, here in March, are reading my November posts.

Second, you can tell who they are because I wrote their last names across the top of the painting. But more to the point--and this is important--the whole idea of painting, as near as I can figure, is that you look at the people, ingest the information, digest it, and then extrude, if that's the right word, your version of the facts of the matter. On a baser note, it's like shitting. On a slightly higher plane, I think they both look like the men I was painting. I am, in fact, particularly fond of the Obama one. I was asked to paint the images by Metro Newspapers to coincide with Election Day. I asked them if they cared how they looked and they said no. So I decided that on Election Day itself, in fact the day BEFORE you learn if you're gonna be the President of the United States, you aren't all smiles and joy. The truth must be, you're exhausted. And helpless, because there's nothing left to do, other than cast your own vote.

That's why they look the way they do. As if, I should add, they need an excuse for looking the way they do. In fact, I particularly like how the Obama painting has a mask-like aspect. The implication being that he, not even yet president, was changing. Probably for the worse. And I'm a fan.

Third, regarding the matter of learning to paint: Hey, I'm learning on the job.

And fourth: I assume it's clear by now, but that's not ME doing the writing on these paintings. I write one annotation on each painting. On this particular McCain painting I think my comment was "Sarah Palin is like Lehman Brothers--the first big mistake." The rest of the content is provided by whosoever feels like grabbing a marker and having at it. (Truth in blogging caveat: sometimes I solicit comments via the internet. I then transcribe them, verbatim.)

And, just for the record, I think the Obama painting looks JUST like him. Just!

All this said, I love it when people weigh in vehemently. You go, girl (or guy--hard to tell).

And regarding Dealbreaker: I love Dealbreaker and they can say anything they want. Although I think "St. Timothy" looks JUST like Geithner. Just!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The relativity of genius

For the record, the genius of the concluding episode of The Sopranos wasn't the final, unexpected cut to black. That was merely clever. No. The genius of the thing was the sequence with Meadow, running late--Tony, Carm and Anthony Junior already in the diner--trying to parallel park her car and get across the street. Now that was excruciating. DePalma-esque. Hitchcockian. Coppolish. I remember thinking Crikeys, they're not gonna waste little Meadow, are they? Genius.

That said, really, genius ain't what it used to be. People call me a genius all the time--an event that makes me frequently squirm but mostly just makes me reflect on how the term has experienced a bit of deflation. Or inflation--whichever means that it ain't what it used to be.

Me? I prefer the term idiot savant. Calling me a genius is like calling a shrimp jumbo. C'mon.

That said, I wonder how Frankie Coppola takes it when people call him a genius. I just finished watching both Godfathers (1 and 2) and I am here to tell you he is. A genius, that is. An unremitting fucking genius. Relentless. Like that Marshall Mathers song that he won the Oscar for.

Have you ever seen Casablanca? It's a movie. Anyway, one of the amazing things about it is that there doesn't seem to be a wasted minute in the 90 or 100-so that comprise the film. I was sitting there watching those Godfather movies thinking that, given the five or six-hours of combined running time, there was barely a hint of fat on the bones.

Which, oppositionally--if that's even a word--leads us to David Chase and The Sopranos. Not so much the genius part--there were numerous moments of genius in The Sopranos (like Drea De Matteo's projectile vomiting in the FBI office, or Uncle Junior saying "I got the Feds so far up my ass I can taste Brylcreem", Christopher telling Furio (maybe) that, after carving a dead guy up at Satriale's, he wasn't going to be ordering any sausage from them anytime soon, and Meadow's closing scene). But, push comes to shove, there was a lot of fat on those bones.

I never thought the level of excellence for which The Sopranos was touted justified the extended production schedule. I thought it was, instead, an act of selfish indulgence. I mean, you could argue that Battlestar Galactica was a vastly superior product than The Sopranos on a number of levels, and they churned the seasons out at about two times the speed with about half the sense of self-importance. And they were full of special effects!

How many Sopranos scenes do you think James Gandolfini shot against a green screen?

Likewise, while we're carping, the abandonment of Catholicism in The Sopranos thinnned it a bit. Once Carmela decided not to make out with Father Tim (or whatever his name was), they pretty much left the religion for others.

Whereas Coppola? Oy gevalt, do you know what Fredo's last words were, sitting in that little boat on the lake?

Before watching the video, write your answer here: ____________________

It's the Hail Mary, if you're not familar. I rest my case.

I love this one. I wonder if people are going to be looking at my religious paintings in 2276 (which is the same number of years into the future as we have to look backwards to find the Madonna by Pompeo Batoni pictured above).

All of which brings me to this afternoon. With a few things pressing on the back of my mind I arrived at church early. I sit about fifteen rows back on the inside of the right aisle. I'm listening to Missa Solemnis, Beethoven's sublime Mass in D Major. It, along with with Bach's Mass in B Minor, is thought to be the most significant mass in the popular canon. Whatever that means.

Anyway, so I'm sitting there, having arrived early, listening to The Big B on the headphones, reflecting on what I'd said to my friend Shannon earlier that same day. "Shannon," I said (approximately), "the cool thing about Mass at St. Xavier's is that the choir is full of frustrated Broadway singers."

So the Mass starts and I, of course, take off the Beethoven and start listen to the general goings on. The Cantor is the cutest little button this side of that girl from Wicked. 'Cept when she opens her mouth and starts to sing I get the feeling like, if I close my eyes, it's the Little Mermaid singing. Or Belle from Beauty and the Beast. One of those Disney sopranos.

Agnus Dei, I say to myself. Or Madre Dei--whichever is the one you don't eat with haricot verts. Which, parenthetically, always makes me think of that Bob Dylan song about her sister Peggy. First Disney takes over 42nd Street. Then they grab hold of Catholicism.

Me? I liked it better when it was all in Latin. Now that was genius.

St. Timothy, complete

Ahhh, victory. Or at least what passes for victory in these parts.


I mean, really. Two weeks ago I thought this was a disaster. A colossal piece of shit. I rolled it up, taped it shut and labeled it "Flawed Geithner." And now, honestly I couldn't be more pleased.

I mean, I don't usually get this pumped up, but I'm awfully fond of this painting. Awfully.

Surely you're familiar with the Harold Brodkey line that goes something like "To see her in sunlight was to see Marxism die"? Actually it goes exactly like that. But regardless, the point here is that you, dear reader, may be sitting in front of your computer, a shot of brandy in one hand and a nice fat cigar in the other, thinking to yourself something like "You know, he's right. That's a pretty nice painting."

But I'm looking at it in the flesh. In sunlight, if you will. And manomanoman, it is really something.

$35,000, in case you're curious.

Nipple/Schnabel--Volume 3

Here's Big Fucking Julian, nipples in place, sun shining through from behind. Proof, surely, here in the middle of Lent, of the existence of God. Look how they pop!

I'm now exploring artificial means of illuminating the nipples from the rear. Proof, surely, here in the middle of Lent, of the existence of technology.

There's a fine line between the two. Anybody who watches Battlestar Galactica knows this. I'm passing it along for the rest of you.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

That boy could sure eat some beets--Volume who knows

I said I wasn't going to explain the whole beet business. But I will tell you this--if you dial those very words into the search box of the blog you can read more about me and beets than you could possibly imagine.

I leave now, my work done, for the Peter McManus Cafe. Then, later, to walk the dog. Then, presumably, to watch basketball. Then, ideally, to eat some General Tsao's Chicken from the walk-in/walk-out Chinese place in Chelsea that's right next to the dry cleaning establishment--the one where all the food tastes like dry cleaning? Then more basketball.

Then sleep. Wake up. Walk the dog. Read the paper. Walk the dog again. Go to the studio. Go to McManus. Walk the dog. Read the paper...

Etc., until Bobby and Michele get back.

This is me and the dog:

I'm the one on the right.

This is another version.

My theory was that I would put the camera on the floor and the dog and I would scrunch down so we could get our faces int the picture. Jake didn't seem to want to cooperate and shortly after this shot I abandoned the project.

And furthermore...

A detail from "Nipple/Schnabel."

In a perfect world I'd follow up with a full picture, but I don't have one. Tomorrow I will, and that's something.

That said, and thinking ahead, I want you to notice the relative (and, to me, unexpected) lack of pop. Pop, in this case, is defined as the contrast between the nipple itself and the background color. So I'm thinking beet juice.
That boy could sure eat some beets.
This is an inside joke and I'm not explaining it. But the idea is to boil the nipples in beet juice to give them a richer, deeper red color. And to thusly achieve a bit more pop.

Work in progress...

Voila. St. Timothy -- a work in progress:

It actually looks quite a bit different as of now, but it was too wet to shoot.

Friday, March 20, 2009


My productivity knows no bounds.

Thus, by this time tomorrow, I will have re-stretched the canvas formerly known as "Big Fucking Julian", carved twenty 1.5 inch holes where the red dots currently reside, and installed the same number of classic baby bottle nipples ...

... yielding "Nipple/Schnabel"

And, of course, "St. Timothy."

And, of course, "The American Investor."

We, by the way, are having a Spring Sale. So make me an offer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Naked Me--Volume 2

And not just to beat the damned thing to death, but consider this apt juxtaposition:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit A is, of course, moi (circa 1980). Exhibit B is the cropped upper pelvis and belly of Michelangelo's David.

Is all I'm saying.

The Naked Me

I've been thinking about that whole flaws-in-the-painting-as-window-into-the-flaws-of-the-man thing and it put me in a philosophical mood.

And there's nothing like a nude self-portrait to speed that process. Thus:

It's a photo of a photo, but honestly--how hot was I? Somewhere between scalding and the temperature at which magnesium burns--in one man's opinion.

Flawed Geithner

Look at this painting of Fed Chairman Tim Geithner.

About a week ago I rolled it up and tucked it into the corner with the other rolled-up paintings. On the outside I wrote the words "Flawed Geithner." Because I hated the painting. Because it was flawed, and by being so served as testimony to my own flaws. So I rolled the fucker up.

Anyway, funny how a week away from something changes things. I unrolled it today, stapled it on the wall (unusual for me in and of itself--I almost always re-stretch 'em before I start painting again), and stared at it.

And then it hit me:

Picture yourself on a train in a station.

Okay, now picture this same painting with a host of minor changes here and there, with the top of his hair considerably trimmed by some white paint, his head surrounded by a halo executed in the very lightest of yellows. The title?

"St. Timothy."

If you'll allow me the briefest of thoughts on sainthood: Surely we hold these truths to be self-evident that every saint that ever was started out as a flawed man. Man, it should be noted here, is used in the gender-neutral sense. So why not the journey from "Flawed Geithner" to "St. Timothy"? Oy gevalt! There's hope for us all.

Could you just die?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ja wohl, Herr Producer

Hier I am with German television. Or rather, here's German television interviewing somebody who just wrote on my Bernie Madoff painting. This would be that.

I wanted to go with this--"The American Investor"--but the producer was hell bent on doing Madoff.

Turned out great, regardless. People are still really angry at Bernie so they had plenty to write.

That said, I think I'm going to leave "Seasons Greetings" alone until June 16th, at which point I'm gonna drag it out in front of 500 Pearl for Madoff's sentencing. Should, as perhaps has been noted before, be warmer than.

Although today was lovely. 62 degrees. Sunny.

Monday is supposed to be in the low 50s, and that will be my next day out. Either with "The American Investor" or a renewed version of "The Annotated Geithner." Who, really, is the man of the hour.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I'm on top of the world, Jerry!

This is line from either Titanic or Seinfeld. Also somewhat hyperbolic, since I'm hardly feeling on top of the world just now. But, that said, it is worth noting that if you stand at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 16th Street in Brooklyn (roughly where I live) you can stare down 16th St. and see the Statue of Liberty. And if you stare down 5th Avenue you can see the Verrazano Bridge.

So that's cool.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

These r times that try men's souls--Volume 2

Which do you want first--the good news or the bad?

Good--I found a way into my backyard. I had to penetrate the basement to find a way, but I believe I have done so.

Bad--the cable guy is coming back on Tuesday.

Really the cable guy business could go either way on the good/bad scale. I mean, at least he's coming--so that's good. But Crikeys I don't like waiting until Tuesday.

Additional good news is that Wednesday is supposed to be 60 degrees. Fahrenheit. So I may debut "The American Investor" to the annotating public that very day.

Additional bad news is that I won't be in my posting groove for another week, roughly. In response to this, dear reader, I would urge you to keep your shirt on.

Friday, March 06, 2009

These r times that try men's souls

"Men", as used here, is, of course, a gender-neutral term.

That said, these ARE times that try men's souls. That is to say, I remain mid-move, at least in the sense that the Time Warner guy--the man who holds in his hands my ability to view television and connect with the internet on a functional level--came and went today without successfully hooking me up. So I remain, to you, dear reader, elusive. Distant. Enigmatic?

I will say this: The summer of 2009 is no longer the year of the non-profit. I told the individual in charge of the Edwin Gould Foundation fundraiser (as distinguished from individuals who actually work at the Foundation, doing good work) to take the fundraiser and shove it. I'll share the reasons at a later date, but suffice to say they were legitimate.

Lord have mercy. As we speak I'm missing the third to last episode of Battlestar Galactica--a circumstance about which I am totally bugging. And by the time I figure out how to get the cable guy into my back yard (a task somewhat more difficult in NYC than it is in, say, suburbia), I would not be surprised if I end up being out of touch for another week.

Lord have mercy.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Can't post. Moving to 16th Street (Brooklyn).

Remind me to tell you about the Mexican restaurant on 9th Street (Manhattan) that I went to earlier tonight.