Thursday, December 31, 2009


December 31, 2009. The final image of the year is the starburst chandeliers of the lobby of the building I work in. It wasn’t until today that I noticed how much like exploding fireworks they are. When you walk into the lobby, you are on Christmas overload, thousands of sparkling and illuminated crystals – the buildings calling card. And it never made sense to me, but now, when I think of it as fireworks; I can imagine it for Chinese New Year or the 4th of July. Our lobby is a year-round celebration. How could you not want to come to work every day?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


December 26, 2009. The road to home, after a snowy night. Or the road looking back. No matter how I look, I know where I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going to, and to where I will return. This single road, freshly plowed, wide and white, has recorded countless steps of children on their way to school, like the grains of sand on a beach. My sister-in-law, who came from the northern woods, once remarked that this vast open sky could cause melancholy, by sheer dint of its scope. She might be right, and maybe that is what the settlers traveling over the prairie felt. How much warmer must it be to have trees overhead and sheltering. Alas, that was not to be in this fertile farm country, which was cleared to make way for farm after farm and small town after small town. But it is where I took my first steps and it is to where I am drawn from time to time, like a fish to its place of beginning.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


December 17, 2009. On the subway entrance outside my office building, this says it all. Love will save the day.


December 15, 2009. Coming back from Supreme Court I came across this sketch on a red fire department call box on the street corner. It immediately reminded me of a drawing I saw years ago on the sidewalk across from Cooper Union. Some kids had decided that they could make money by selling urban drawings of tragic, but to them comic situations. Tragic because of the humanity involved, comic because you wouldn’t dream up those scenarios. This sketch reminds me, in part, of their Crack Whore drawing. The comic aspect has long since stopped being comic, in light of the toll the epidemic has taken on people around me. The tragedy of the addiction looms much larger.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


December 13, 2009. My tree, decorated today. Taken in the dark of the early evening, in my apartment which my friend Keith says needs more light, and my friend Todd says needs less, this tree is reminiscent of the tree in an old picture from my childhood. There’s something about a tree made ready for the holidays – anticipation and nostalgia – but just about everyone loves it. I just like to look at it. I once took a nap with my head under the tree. It smelled nice.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


December 9, 2009. I was walking through City Hall Park when I had to stop to look again. These wonderful plants had been drenched in rain most of the morning, and then the afternoon turned sunny and mild. Beaded on these blossoms were droplets of water, reflective in the sun, almost like little ice drops.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


December 8, 2009. Centre Street is home to the courts, and urban art of the heroic variety. Four men are supporting something heavy, weighty, maybe the weight of the world, maybe its sorrow, maybe some other burden. But they seem resolute to me, united, joined in this task and able to do it. They stand, heads and shoulders burdened by this light to the world, maybe a light in the darkness, maybe a light to illuminate the surrounding gloom. I find their planed legs appealing, as in the beginning of abstraction, but not ready to go there just yet. And the silver in the light fixture against the brilliant blue of the sky was glorious. Added to it, I was released from jury duty and could return to my work.

Monday, December 7, 2009


December 7, 2009. As I left court from jury duty I came across this image on a building in the area. It won’t be there for long and clearly it isn’t meant as a permanent marking on the column outside the entrance doors. As little as someone might not have thought about this, they did! The rectangle is punctuated with the circles at the junctions, and in the larger rectangle there is the internal straight line and the wave. Each line is meant to cement the former sign to the stone. But the person who did this was not only thinking about adhesive, but something that was pleasing to their eye, otherwise why bother with the individual circles and a wave? It’s a wonderful design made visible by the tearing away of the overlaying signage.


December 4, 2009. I went christmas tree hunting with my friends TJ, Jeff & Jim. For the 2nd year we’ve gone to Pine Farm in Youngsville, NY. There are acres of trees, and while looking at them, you can also see many other wonderful things, like this moss with these red flowers growing over the remains of a stump. It was a little surprise in addition to the larger wonders of the woods and I didn’t see it until I was on the ground sawing the White Fir I took with me. The soft green of this moss, punctuated by the bright red of the flowers was unexpected on a chilly day in December.

Friday, December 4, 2009


December 3, 2009. A view of green and terra cotta. What was once maybe cast-off has become a flourishing forest of leaves and blooms. From this desk, the world can always look lush, verdant and alive. People pass by in a blur - a glimpse in a busy day as you peer from behind the greenery.


December 2, 2009. Personal space as artistic statement. We each gather things around us and build a personal statement in our homes and where we work. I like to see the differences, from wild variety to smooth surfaces. These opposites are the fuel of fashion and style, the ideas that are seen in fabric design to home design and the inherent tension between them drives all sorts of compromises in-between.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


November 25, 2009. I wonder if the designer here was thinking like a whale. How do you corral your prey into a specific space so that they have to pay attention to your merchandise, all before you rise up out of the deep blue and eat them, like so many krill, or is it make that sale? Or was the idea more like a diver, searching for treasure, trailing a line of bubbles that announces to the surface that you are there, you are under the water, you are searching. It was a wonderful feeling, looking through the glass, reflections of light and color.


November 24, 2009. Early morning. I am walking out of my house. There it is, parked across the street. This little panel truck, graffitied to within an inch of its life. As I’m going down into the subway, I notice a man with painting supplies on the curb hailing a cab. I imagine this is the driver and artist. He found a good parking spot and is on his way to the job. I was on the way to mine, so I didn’t stop to say hi. My loss, I suppose.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


November 21, 2009. After my morning swim I was coming up from the 7th Avenue line, when I came across the first image. Completely random, a slip of the trowel, a whistle that signaled closing time, and the person on this job didn’t smooth the last of the cement where tiles will eventually cover this work. A ghostly image, a woman in a shroud, a priestly figure, a graduating student – I don’t know – but I stopped.

Moments later, walking up a street in my neighborhood, I passed by this tree. It has been there many years. I didn’t see it. Now look how the bark has separated from the trunk, wrapped around it, embracing, holding, not wanting to leave its source. The play of texture, the softness of the bark, like birch, against the smooth trunk, like a post readied for staking to make a fence on the farm.


November 20, 2009. Walking up the A line at the 59th Street subway station I came across this support bean, which is where it always is, I just never noticed its particular beauty. The layers of paint and glue, cement and rust, have been stripped away in patterns at once designed and random. Someone just walked up and stripped away the sign that had been there, and the rest was exposed. Maybe the person tried to scrape away some of what remained. I love the look of the oxidized metal. And the pink above it reminds me of another artist, Ellie Greenberg, from BWAC. The colors look at peace with one another.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


November 19, 2009. More sidewalk art on Church Street, near Worth. This is a beautiful array of circles and arcs, in colors, across the entire entry to the Insurance building. You are walking down a drab street of uninteresting buildings and grey sidewalks and then you happen across this work. How fun it must be to come to work and walk across this as you enter the lobby of your building. How often do you just forget about it and through familiarity, it becomes another sidewalk? I hope never.


November 18, 2009. It’s Verizon again. I don’t know what Verizon has to do with LeRoi, but this wonderfully powerful graphic is traveling around the City, courtesy of the telephone giant. The oversized paw indicating a ferocity that signals anyone thinking about it to not approach in the wrong way. Those mighty talons stretching out to swipe at any transgressors. And the tongue, is it that this lion is speaking to us with a loud voice, does it impress on us the mighty roar that causes us to tremble? Who was the passerby then that applied the neon blue dollar signs over this graphic? Applied more strategically this could have been a coat, but why so haphazard, as if in passing?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


November 15, 2009. Someone in NY isn’t a fan of cell phones. In this view, do they portend the end of civilized conversation as some of my friends believe, or will they result in some unknown cancer of the ear at a date in the future? These three skulls were part of a larger grouping of about 27, sinister, bleached white, and all talking outside the Puck Building. I was so distracted by them that I walked south to a destination that was north.

Then I found this, which helped to turn me back north. It immediately made me think of my friend Todd. Every cultural phenom has to have people who seek to satirize loyal followers. The colors are so neon, and the words almost leap off the page, they seem to be moving of their own volition.

Finally, outside my destination, stood this tower of cars. Parking space in NY is at such a premium. But I love the design of it, the idea of apartments for cars, next to apartments for humans. Some have better views. Others have garden apartments. Some appear to have tri-plexes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


November 14, 2009. One of the beauties of New York is its myriad sidewalks and the materials used to construct them. Outside of the Library at 5th and 42nd, the curbs are made of this beautiful red toned granite. It was raining today, and these leaves were aligned perfectly, matted to the stone and revealing the last of their glory before they will dry and be swept away.

And then there was this sidewalk on 50th, outside the Time Building. It is easy to imagine this in yellow, populated by lions and tigers and bears. It must have been conceived of in a much more fanciful time, and how thrilling it must be when you come upon it after treading over the usual cement sidewalk, easily traversed, excruciatingly familiar, but far less fun.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day

November 11, 2009. Who doesn’t love a parade? And who wouldn’t love a marching band in bright red uniforms, marching up 5th Avenue? These uniforms were in such stark contrast to the black, brown and navy uniforms of the other bands and groups. And the white plumes, fluttering in the wind, were bright and clean against the drab gray sky.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


November 8, 2009. Public walkways often meet with mixed results in their everyday application. This particular one is dark and dull with the exception of this water wall, where water glistens on the rock as it cascades from the ceiling. The light plays on the uneven surface, and the water tinkles as it falls into the pool at sidewalk level. It is a valiant attempt to bring life to a lifeless spot.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


November 7, 2009. So, like who really needs any encouragement? I like that there are four levels of work happening on this. Wood, tag, letting and wash. And I imagine that some student in his shop class thought this out and then cut it with a jig saw. Do they even have shop class anymore?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


November 3, 2009. After leaving the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we were walking south on 5th Avenue and came across this little gem at 79th Street. Ensconced in its own little garden, still in bloom, this vertical home belongs in this spot. Not as lyrical as Nevelson, but still reminiscent of style, this is filled with more whimsy, and is probably more accessible to people passing by. It’s themes of domesticity and community resonates easily in a residential community and welcome people to engage it on its own terms.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


November 1, 2009. Let’s look, Parker said. It’s just a jumble of weeds, Todd said. But what a jumble of glorious color on a fall day at the end of our NYC Marathon watching. A circle of asters around the fountain in the Conservatory Garden. Pink, white, yellow, magenta, violet, purple all jumbled into a blanket of color so dizzying in its fullness that it was dream inducing.


October 31, 2009. I collect them, I smell them, I like them near me. Most dogs chew on shoes. Then there are those with a collector’s instinct. Maybe it’s because they have shiny bits on them, or maybe the texture of suede is nice. But then it could just be the smell. For whatever reason, they are gathered and arranged as part of the feathering of the nest.


October 30, 2009. In Riverdale, looking across the expansive green of Van Cortlandt Park, beyond the trees on the horizon, stands a gaggle of cranes, construction cranes, as if in conversation. They stand straight and tall, and near to each other. I wonder if they discuss how much they lift, or how high, or if they are excited about what they are helping to build. A nest they won’t live in. These are their downtown cousins, fewer in number, and more focused on their tasks. They’ve grown accustomed to the people at their feet, pouring out of the Path Station and the subways. Are they equally at home with the giant buildings towering over them?

Thursday, October 29, 2009


October 29, 2009. Somebody really got this right. These red geraniums in giant dusty red pots are striking. And they are just sitting there as you come across a peeling pedestrian bridge over the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery tunnel, in a nondescript intersection of roadways at the tip of the island. But how pretty they are, and how dramatic. The sunlight was so warm on them after a few days of rain and gray skies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


October 28, 2009. Legs here, arms there. This box, opposite Bryant Park, might be part of a ghoulish Halloween spectacle, or it might be part of a complex catering affair. I didn’t see the box for arms or heads.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


October 27, 2009. Rescued, as it were, and left on a sill covered with raindrops, awaiting the return of its owner, someone who thought “oh, this looks pretty in my ear”. Now it is gone, lost, maybe forgotten, maybe regretfully so. Why didn’t I go back to get it? Where did I lose it? But then it is left here, by someone who thought it was too pretty to be trodden underfoot. It’s red and golden threads brighten an overcast day and a gray window.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


October 25, 2009. October 25, 2009. I saw a lot of art today because I went to BWAC, the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition. I usually try to go twice during the course of each show, and I am always happy I did, although transportation problems almost got the best of me. But hey, I’m a New Yorker, and a little thing like the subway isn’t running to where you want to go, just can’t stop you, especially when there is art at the end of the line. There are so many people showing their work, and each of them that I meet is so proud to be there, and they really want you to see their work, and they are really eager to talk about it. I didn’t take a picture, but if you follow the link to Philip’s blog spot, The Artpoint, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I have my favorites, of course, and some times I have new favorites, but that just means that I have connected to someone's work that I didn't connect to last time. It's always a delight.


October 24, 2009. When I first noticed this building, after years of walking by as I left Union Square, it was because the columns on either side of the door had been decorated with the standing figures at the top and bottom, along with the designs on the three verticals. It was striking in both its simplicity and its complexity. It was before the tags had been sprayed over some of the design, and before the crawling orange sprawls, like an awakening fungus on a tree, had grown into its space. There is something organic and natural about the orange, almost inevitable, evolutionary if left to its own devices. But I also lament the loss of the beauty of the original, still clearly visible on the upper left.

Friday, October 23, 2009


October 23, 2009. My subway Rothko. Over a black background is painted this blue rectangle – admittedly washed out, but blue nonetheless. Every day I walk down the stairs to the downtown C and I wonder who painted this, and why no one has painted over it in a single bureaucratic color. The black is shiny like hot black tar on a Minnesota roadway in July, and it makes me smile as I make my way to work.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


October 21, 2009. I have been trying to get this picture by the Library for weeks now, but it is too dark after I exit my acupuncture treatment. These tracks are the urban footprints of the dinosaurs of our time. What were the two trails paralleling each other? Were they heading to a watering hole, or on their way to shelter? What is the track that crosses both, and why does it head off in another direction? In the future will someone try to determine what the characters are and what they mean to tell us?

Monday, October 19, 2009


October 19, 2009. There’s so much going on in this little space – just a tiny sticker on a lamppost. The curves of the lines encircling the smaller white field remind me of the very small and detailed work of a woman named Margie Rubin. It is like a little surprised white fish with red eyes and a red nose. As it combines with the larger red field, it looks like a deranged bicycle messenger on the rush through City streets.


October 18, 2009. My friends Karen and Keith sent this. Which way I go depends on my day. This Westchester parking garage wins the day.


October 17, 2009. Here’s a bar & restaurant that wanted graffiti art to draw attention to its place of business. The flowers are so soft and round, even if they are neon, against the bold tag line. It’s hard to be on the side streets in Manhattan, so you need to use every tool at your disposal to drive or pull business to you. In this case it’s a small Indian restaurant.

Friday, October 16, 2009


October 14, 2009. What cleverness exists in the minds of humans. This sad figure looks like it is having a hard time climbing the stairs, and to make matters worse it is accompanied by a yapping dog. Is this a nod to the dog whisperer brand, is it the maker’s personal experience, or is it just a dog behaving badly? In the far future, when this plaque is discovered in some buried dump, people will argue over the pictograph of the dog and try to establish the exact breed, what it looked like, how it behaved, if it was an early warning system. We all know what it is though, even with its cartoon lines.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Subway Tentacle

October 13, 2009. What has happened to the person in the chair? This tentacle reaching up from the subway floor, angling to the opening in the border – maybe to the next frame – what is it reaching for? Was there a victim of this unseen monster? Is this what the person who stripped the piece out of the poster intended? Or is it just the latest round of movies that I’ve watched.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


October 11, 2009. I dream of antelope when I look at this. Not the leaping, bouncing antelope of National Geographic, but the staring, protective, silent antelope of my own vision. They watch, they wait, and they stand guard. I imagine they are protective of their own, against the elements and against the dangers that lurk in the high grasses. These are not the delicate creatures that spring about on pogo stick legs, but the great horned antelope like oryx, kudu and sable that dare you to challenge them. What wizardry of design brought about this creation?

Saturday, October 10, 2009


October 10, 2009. I’ve liked images of birds in a row ever since I heard Willie Nelson sing Cohen’s Bird on a Wire. And twice I’ve seen paintings of birds on a wire, that I should have bought, but didn’t. Curious that these turkey vultures were sitting on the roof of a church, now a restaurant in New Hope, next to the Addams Family house, also a restaurant. In flight, they had a wonderful circular, forward moving pattern over the Delaware River. And then some of them came to rest here, watching and waiting, but I don’t know what for.


October 8, 2009. Church & West Broadway. As much as I want to ignore work that defaces public signs and makes it even more difficult for people to determine where they can legally park, I couldn’t help but take notice of the face. Round and so heavily shadowed, so serious, but lit by color, and decorated by a vibrant blue tattoo. Is he being inspired by some illumination from above, is that what the blue lines are in the upper left corner? Was the artist faced with the same problem as ancient artists – how to depict divine inspiration? Is he contemplating why there is a sign for a farmers market, but no market and no farmers? Maybe he is conceiving how to create local sustainability.

I Dream All Day

October 7, 2009. Bryant Park. Carousels remind me of the fantasy of childhood day dreams, and even adult walking dreams. When you were mounted on that mighty stead, flying swiftly anywhere, even if it only went in a circle, you could construct a world where you could win, where you could enforce ‘right’, at least as far as you understood it. On the back of a horse, you couldn’t help but be victorious against the villainy of the tyrants. And then there they were, on the backs of horses. What tricks were played on those poor animals to put them on the wrong side?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


October 6, 2009. What a burden these weary caryatid bear here in the East Village. Their glory has faded, not only from the ravages of time, but from the neglect of man. They are now caged, hemmed in securely by railings, their curves in stark contrast to the straight lines of the door and structure, their griminess mirrored in the graffiti on the window. Did they offer shelter and promise when they first graced this building? I can imagine that they were welcome markers to children making their way back home. I would always know which door was mine.

Monday, October 5, 2009


October 4, 2009. Timber, logs, slashed together, pinned into place, rolling down the uneven shape of the supporting trunk, cutting the sun’s intense rays, but not blocking it from reaching to your face. They reach out to their neighbor birches, standing straight, giving shelter of another sort.

Red Green

October 3, 2009. Somewhere north, near Roscoe, lives a potter, Carolyn Duke, who we inevitably visit when TJ & I see our friends Jeff & Jim. I love looking at the ideas she explores in clay – the colors, the imprints of flowers, weeds and branches from her yard, and the firing techniques of her pinch pots. This red, against the darkened pottery, feels like an autumn day to me, the color of leaves about to fall, against an ominous sky about to rain, but with the sun not quite ready to quit the scene. It has an earthiness like mud and blood mixed together after you’ve fallen and scraped your knee, which I used to do often enough.

And then there is this undulating bowl with these delicate imprints of stems and dense flowers. The beautiful green that rings the midsection, shooting upward to the lip, contrasting to the crackled bottom, is another color that I love to look at in her work. Her pottery exudes a strong pull on me to want to touch it and roll it around in my hands. It overrides my concern about dropping it.