Sunday, September 30, 2012



Saturday, September 29, 2012


  This was the weekend I was not looking forward to. It was time to empty out mom's house. When the old man died he left a pile of self help books, a very nice velore kaftan, a can of old watches and enough money to see mom through, and then some. He'd already given away his guns and the portable crapper is still up for grabs. He was not one to collect anything. He had no records, art, furniture, or treasures of any kind. Stuff meant nothing to him.
   But my mother was a way different character. I have her pack rat hoarder gene. We all knew of her good taste in clean line, well built antiques, as well as her obsession with shaving mugs. But what none of us realized was how far her china jones went. Once we started emptying the cabinets every horizontal surface was filled with breakable dishes, bowls, tea and coffee cups, platters (small and large) and yes.....gravy boats.
   I had decided early on to go for mom's every day dishes, a classic blue and white wedgewood pattern. At least I think that's what it's called. I have chipped cobbed together crap that I've gathered over the years. I would like nothing better that to toss it in the air and blast it with the 20 ga., instead of wash it one more time. A nice piece of fish and some rice and beans on mom's china sounds like heaven. But as soon as i made it known that I wanted the upgrade, everyone (esp. my sister) thought I should now have a full thanksgiving sit down service, complete with gravy boat. "Look here's another." My sister holds up another gravy boat. I resist. What the fuck do I need a gravy boat for? I know, come the holidays I'll regret this decision. Hell. I'm already regretting it. I probably do need a gravy boat.

That's the way it goes all day. We divy up all the spoils. When we come to her rings it hits home for me. I have to take a breath. I suggest we just sell her jewelry and split the cash. This is met with much disapproval. I just wanted to avoid this part. Too intimate. Seems somehow wrong to piece it out. But then I see how mom would like to see it being enjoyed by all of us. Then it makes sense. A little bling for Shewho and Teewho.
   So we pack up our trucks with her really nice stuff, some going back generations, some mom just liked and collected- clocks, maps, tables, chairs, jewelry, photos, spoons, shaving mugs, paintings, dishes, dishes and dishes.....The grandkids can have grandma's gravy boats. I'll make do without.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012




There's been a flurry of activity here at the shack. Bow season opens on Monday. There's camo to be washed, gloves to be found, branches to be trimmed and of course arrows to shot. It's been a while since I've put one on the ground with the bow. This year i vowed to practice more. My bow (a nice Browning loaner from Savage Lynch) feels good in my hands, but is failing me on delivering consistent groups. I'll thread two right down the pike, then have one go wild. It's driving me crazy. Out come the allen wrenches. I re-set the sights and it's worse. Then, as i pulled back the string i noticed the arrow slide, then drop into the rest. Could this be the problem? A pair of pliers and some fiddling later and damned if I wasn't holding the groups. I think I got it.
   Inside the shack, in anticipation of the long days in the stand, and early bedtime, I've done a thorough cleaning. One of the last messes was the closet. I seem to coming out of my forgetful stressed out state following mom's passing, but i can't go into the closet without remembering how I lost my old man's watch, after he died a few years back. The closet was the last place i remember seeing it. It wasn't a fancy watch, but it was the last one he wore. I didn't find it. But what a did find was a can containing a dozen old watches he had discarded over the years. I pulled one from the tangled mess, and damned if it wasn't still ticking! Could this one still work? I checked the time- ten minutes fast. I then pulled the stem and it came off in my hand. The old man had wrists like tree trunks. I stuck the stem back in, strapped the band on my girlie arm and once again wore my father's watch.
   About 4:30 (4:40 my time) I went in the woods to try to find my blind. Out of laziness, I'd left it out all year. To my surprise it was still there, and still in one piece. I unzipped the door, set up the stool and sat out the rest of daylight in the woods. It's hard to convey the sense of peacefulness that comes over you when you settle yourself into a blind and slowly scan the woods for movement. I had no gun or bow but THIS was what I had been waiting for. Was that a footstep? Did I see light bounce off fur down by the pond? I heard a squirrel behind me. A couple of hours of silent sitting and my neck ached, my ass itched and I hadn't seen a living thing. I checked my watch- 6:55pm (6:45pm actual time). The sun was dipping into the Neversink. I can't wait.    

Monday, September 24, 2012




First let me name drop a little. Signaling the end of Sullivan County high society summer season, the Ethelbert B. Crawford opening at MO David North on Saturday was a big hit. Attended by such art world luminaries as Dr. L. Chua, Robin Winters, John Letourneau, the Druckmans, Julie Merhetu, Paul Pffeifer, Brett Budde, the Voegelins, Alan Barrish, the Markovitz's and many others, the work of Mr. Crawford was ushered into the 21st century in proper fashion. A lovely cheeze platter was provided by the Wray Voegelin Foundation.

     Like assholes and opinions of the work of a long dead artist- everybody's got one.  I came of age in a time, and amongst a group of artists in SF who were simultaneously supportive and critical of each other's work. Maybe it wasn't Paris in the 30's, but it was a healthy atmosphere within which we all worked out ideas, concepts and strategies for very disparate careers. Then i moved back to NY. NYC in the 80's (and I'm sure it is the same now) was completely the opposite. Any serious art dialogue was immediately squashed in favor of salacious gossip. How much was the work? How many sold? Where were they showing next? And who did they blow to get the show? So I was completely amazed the other night when all talk turned to the art of EBC.
   Of course it's easier to have strong opinions when the artist is long gone. But I was still floored at how much discussion there was over this work.  Here's a snippet:

Dr. Chua: "The man was deeply troubled. Look at the shore line. You can see, he just couldn't get it right. It obviously drove him to take his own life."
Brette Budde: "How could he leave that brush hair in the beach scene? HOW COULD HE?"
Robin Winters: "Yes, the work is strong. Maybe an older, more established critic should write on it."
Julie Merhetu: "Wow. This is incredible."
John Letourneau: "I think he was gay."

It went on like that all night. No one held back. I must tell you, it was so refreshing. Here was what would be considered a conservative, out of fashion, never seriously considered artist's work being discussed by a group of working art world professionals. I couldn't be more tickled. Don't miss what they are all talking about. Viewing by appt. 845 434 1918 until Oct. 19, 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I know there's been no talk of hunting or pics of supermodels for a long time in a blog dedicated to such. Patience. Bow season opens Oct. 1 and I have promises from my photog. friends that long legged, scantily clad supermodels are coming. Can't hurry these things. In the meanwhile it's art, religion, money and boredom that seem to be most on my mind. This summer has been a watershed. Both parents now gone, turning 70, a drained bank account, a small toe dipped back into the NYC art scene, and 7 churches now under our belt, from the Glen Wild sanctuary, finds me searching for a way to entertain myself, for how ever much time I have left. As always, in order to go forward, I look back.
    I started my career in SF in the late 70's. Frustrated with the limited opportunities available to me, as a young artist, I started to search out spaces within which I could reach the public directly. These were the days where this was a possibility for those of us on a shoe string budget. With a little digging you could get a billionaire on the phone and negotiate rent for a unique public space. Case in point were the large display windows of the old JC Penney building on Market St. Bob Lurie (owner of the SF Giants) owned the empty building. I made a deal with him (over the phone) for renting those big windows for $100 per month. I then curated a small group of artists to do pieces in the windows. Everything went well, until Karen Finley cracked one during a naked, lunch time rant. Years later, in NY, I got art mogul/billionaire Peter Brant on the phone and pitched an idea for "World's Smallest Museum" in an old Newsstand he owned, attached to the Downtown Guggenheim on Broadway and Spring. It took 6 months of meetings for him to say no. The point being, I still was able to get him on the phone and take me seriously, as late as 1992.

That was probably the last time I tried to rent someone else's venue for a public showing. From then on I knew I could never afford it. Rental real estate had gone through the roof in the city and I'd had enough. If one couldn't interest another in promoting one's work in an existing space, then good luck. Since then I've been in Glen Wild. At first it was just me and beefalo farmer Ray Gilkey. But over the years, by no effort of my own, a little artsy community has evolved. Even the "farmers" have big bank accounts and degrees from Yale. Famous artists live down the road and one would think that this, with emerging "foundations" and boutique operations, would be encouraging enough to keep me going. I'm sorry to say it is not.
   I am in the (local) public eye. I place billboards in my front of the church for the drive-by and Shewho and I re-opened MO David as MO David North. The churches are packed, youthful and chaotic. MO North openings are well attended. From time to time we get a little press. This should be enough for anyone, no? It would be, if not for one little I may have spent a career doing work that some would categorize as "difficult", yet there it is, stacked up canvases and sculptures ready for acknowledgement, appreciation.....and dare I say- sale. This is the bottom line, the words I dare not speak. Because as everyone knows you can't count on selling your work. But wait. Why the fuck not? Is this not the bottom line? How much time do you think I have left?
   So now I'm pondering a move back to the city. Recently I was in a NYTimes review of a summertime group show. To paraphrase the critic- "Mike Osterhout showed two 4'x7' billboards. One said GOD LOVES FAGS. The other stated "God Loves Dykes"." With art criticism like this, so perceptive and didactic, I feel I should strike while the iron is hot. This could be my big break- my come back. I have a suit and an old pair of black shoes. Maybe it's time to make the scene again. I bet I could find a little store front in the EV and set up shop. How bad could rents be?        


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Jesus, Buddha and Mohammad go into a bar.......Wait a minute! Can I tell this joke? A day after the 11th anniversary of 9/11, following the death of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats in Libya, is it possible that the telling of a joke in an obscure American blog will unleash some violent act a world away? I'm not taking any chances. Just Buddha and Jesus went in the bar. Mohammad stayed outside, stoning a hooker, while the joke continued.
    Once again, the thin skin of Islam has been scratched by a Youtube video called INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS. Like Florida pastor Terry Jones's threats to burn the Koran (as well as the US army's actual burning of the Koran) those sensitive Muslims are once again up in arms. In a post revolutionary, heavily armed place like Libya, where the folks don't need much of an excuse to pull out RPG, or watch Youtube, this can obviously happen at the drop of a prayer shawl.
   In our church we pride ourselves as an equal opportunity roaster of all races, creeds, and belief systems. That said, I am always conscious of those who can take it the wrong way. A case in point was Ku Klux Klown standing on the front lawn holding a burning cross. I realize that some of the cars driving by may not have seen (even in the flickering light of a flaming cross) the embroidered frowny face on my hood. Hey, I can be subtle. It was more a fire safety issue than a planned public performance. No offense meant. Then there are the Jews and the Gays. I know we pick on them more than the rest. But that's just because we love them, and realize how broad their shoulders are. We are nothing if not a bastion of theological humor. But then there's the Muslims.....
    Even with my constant reproach of the congregation NOT to tell anyone about the CLGM, word's getting out. Every service new people show up. You may not believe this, but I do try to reel myself in. I'm working on this skit for A PUSSY RIOT CHRISTMAS CHURCH involving Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, Putin, Mary Magdalen, Mohammed and Dennis the big dick donkey all in a manger scene. Baby Jesus (in Pussy Riot sock hat) is crying because he didn't get what he wanted for Christmas, when in comes Mohammed riding Dennis. Putin is showing MM some Judo moves as Santa watches intently. Mohammed bends over and picks up the Baby Jesus.....then turns to the congregation and says....."xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx." Don't you think that's funny?        

Monday, September 10, 2012


Friday, September 7, 2012


I'm clipping my toenails, catching the end of BABYDOLL on TCM, when the phone rings. You'd think this was a fictional statement, but it's the God's honest truth. Hey, i deserve a little pampering. It's 6:00 pm and I've been working all day trying to figure out where to stash all the artwork I have displayed everywhere in order to make room for Ethelbert. I'm doing pretty good considering I keep making the stuff and never seem to sell anything. Then there's the mice. The combination of bad eyesight, low lighting and and a general malaise when it comes to cleaning the kitchen, was just the opportunity the vermin of Sullivan County were waiting for.  A couple of days ago i'd had enough. I started a top to bottom, spiral approach, working my way towards the mouse crap covered table in the middle of the kitchen. Traps were laid and 4 trays of poison were consumed in one night. Where's the trail cams when I need them? Who's on the phone? Doesn't matter.
   My house is looking like a combination of TV's HOARDERS and a Natural History Museum. I got nowhere to put the stuff anymore and the mice sense this. It used to be just some seeds in my boots. Now i don't dare get in bed with the lights off. Last night I felt something on my foot and damn near broke my neck flopping out of the bed in terror. Turned out to be Shewho's discarded sock. Phew! Now that the poison is out it's anyone's guess when one will choose my Martha Stewart sheets to make their death print.
   We live in their world. I got something that's scratching in my wall, that sounds like a flying squirrel, raccoons and 'possums are stealing the cat food and spiders live in everything. In the old days it was cockroaches. Thank God they have yet to discover the the Catskills. Today I bought more poison, baited the traps with peanut butter  and am settling in for the night. The leaves haven't even changed and all the critters seem to be lining up for a room.  Winter's coming and I think I smell something coming from under the house......    

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


My entire career has been a search for material with which to make my art. In the early days it could be something as intangible as relationship. How could someone get to know another person and contextualize the experience within (art)? MISSIONARY (the extended family as sculpture) 1978 attempted just this. At 26 years old I picked a 12 year old boy out of the SF Examiner newspaper and "got to know him" through phone calls, a series of outings and letters. Then I documented the experience with objects and writings. I was still in graduate school at the time. When I presented this piece to the review  panel it was met with bemused dismissal. One panel member suggested I drop out of art school and join the Salvation Army.
   Along with relationship as material, the machine that creates art and artists' careers also fascinated me.   My little group of SF artist friends, Jose Bustos, Peggy Ingalls, Tony Labat, Bruce Pollack, Richard Irwinn, ....were all doing shows either still in school or just out of it. So I decided to invent a critic who would write about them. MO David started out writing about their work (not mine). In a short amount of time I was published in New York and LA magazines. Quickly tiring of this bald-faced promotion, I opened a gallery of the same name- showing these individuals and others. This was the beginning of the use of other artists, their work and careers as material for my own work.

  The gallery piece brought me to NYC, where I expanded my circle to include more established artists like Robin Winters, Les Levine and Stelarc, as well as up and comers like Tony Oursler and Karen Finley. Naive and clueless as to the workings of the NY art world, I hired Bob Nickas and Renee Ricardo to sit the gallery as i went out to make a living as a carpenter. Dumb move? 30 years later and I still don't know. My next use of artist as material found me creating a fictitious painter by the name of Kristan Kohl and showing her anonymous looking work in MO David.  Kim Levin of The Village Voice wrote- "A Neo-conceptualist in the era of the entrepreneur, this artist's documented acts of art range from a fictional artist who had an actual solo show, to buying a cow, attending seminary, and adopting a boy. Is he for real?"
   Having the gallery allowed me to trade services for art. I would frame pieces for a show and get a couple in return. It was then I began to actually paint over other artists' work with a viscous green called  IKG (International Kohl Green). Everyone hated me. Still, I limited myself to one per artist and stand behind this series. Artists like Finley were REALLY pissed. Others took it in grudging stride. How much is an Oursler these days? I can only guess. I got a nice green one I'll sell ya cheap.
Then came rock and roll, a church, a school, and hunting, killing, guiding, and another gallery, all "as art". So it goes from here. Carlo McCormick once wrote of my "self- abrogating" career decisions over the years. I had to look it up to realize he was talking about my constant foot shooting. And this brings me to PANIC AVERTED- Ethelbert B. Crawford. No, this is not another pseudonym. This is the use of another's totally obscure career of 100 years ago and trying to promote it through MO David North. The title is from a 1910 newspaper article declaring that the police had "averted panic" by the throngs of art lovers attending THE INDEPENDENT ARTISTS SHOW  of 1910, which Ethelbert was a part. The work is not for sale at this time, but may be someday. I love the stuff and just want to see it on my walls. I feel his ghost upon me. The title is fitting for what we all feel as artists everyday. Will this panic ever be averted? I doubt it. Now if I can just keep myself from painting it all green.    

Monday, September 3, 2012


We live in a society of rules, regs. and boundaries. In these days of rampant social media these can sometimes be a bit fuzzy. Just the other day I may have inadvertently crossed some lines. There's a great shot going around the web of the Russian punk girl band PUSSY RIOT kicking up their heels and kung fu fighting in front of an over the top gilded altar in a Russian Orthodox church. Since we are doing A PUSSY RIOT CHRISTMAS here at the CLGM I thought this was a good image to use to start the holiday hype. All the girls are hooded, so I decided to "tag" the band members with the names of female artists I knew and respected, as a kind of homage to their "pussy" fierceness. My original line up for PUSSY RIOT cover band was- Karen Finley, Kembra Phaler, Joanna Went and Alix Lambert. Within hours Ms. Went had removed her tag, quitting my fantasy band. Then Kembra jumped ship. Had I somehow insulted these women? Not to be deterred, I replaced Kembra with Linda Montano and then watched Linda walk. Too many Divas? I have no idea. Finally I had Polly Ester and Dreke Caprice join Karen and Alix. This line-up seems to be holding. Jeesh! Completely fake, FB dream bands are as hard to keep together as any working outfit.

This brings me to two recent instances of people overstepping their bounds here in the Socialskills. The other evening Shewho, Teehoo and I were enjoying pizza and beer on the deck when a mini-van did a U-turn and pulled onto the lawn. Just like one of those circus cars, people started to pour out. First came a little girl wanting to pet my cat. "OK. Sure. Be careful." I said not moving from my seat. Next came another little girl holding her father's hand, crossing the road to pet the camels. Finally a woman, dragging a frantic boy crossed the lawn, announcing herself. "We are friends of so-and-so.....we met you.....etc." Before the polite Shewho and Teehoo could rise from their chairs to greet them, they were upon us. I didn't budge.
   The kids were cute and cannot be blamed for their abrasive, rude parents, who proceeded to sit at our table without invitation and dig into our pizza. Shewho and Teehoo with shellshocked smiles, were obviously at a loss on what to do. I knew exactly what to do. When the woman asked "We aren't disturbing you...are we?" I responded. "Yeah, you kinda are." Meet rudeness with rudeness. I locked eyes with her. I was in no mood to quibble. The poor kids were embarrassed. The parents were oblivious, but got the not so subtle hint and left. I could only imagine how many times the poor kids had been dragged along on these rude excursions. They left in a huff. Without my direct (albiet nasty) approach, they'd still be here. Shewho and Teehoo thanked me for being such an asshole.

One more. I was in the church banging away at a new song, when I heard a distant voice. "Excuse me..... " I looked up to see a Hassidic man dragging a cast on one leg, limp in the church. " I don't want to disturb you. Can you tell me who owns the farm across the road?" I told him. "Do you have his number? I want to...." I cut him off. "Sir. If you don't want to disturb me, you'll leave." He didn't seem to even hear me. He stood there looking around. "What kind of church is this?" I'd had enough. "SIR! Puuuleeeze. Can't you see I'm busy?" "Sorry." he said and hobbled back towards the front door. Now I was flustered and after about five minutes, laid down the guitar and went to take a break. I headed for the door and found the man, still in the church, mesmerized by all the cards of Mystery Girl at the front table. I couldn't fucking believe it. I made him choose one and sent him packing.  I went back to the guitar, now even more distracted, and the phone rang. "Excuse me......." IT WAS THE SAME GUY! ".....are you having a service this weekend? I have a card........ " He'd misread the year.

I love summer. I love the Socialskills. But as I sit here on a cloudy Labor Day I gotta say I'm glad it's over. Bow season opens Oct. first. Now, if I can only keep the interlopers away from my tree stand....