Archive for December, 2009

One Year Later

December 30, 2009

Asleep in the Forest

It’s been a year since I started doing this blog.  My general purpose and freewheeling blog soon followed as well as blogs on movies and music.  All of these can easily be linked to by going to the home page for any of the four.

I’ve been having a good holiday break.  I’m working on a text on trees for my “adventurous resources” blog.

When I get a break, I try to balance visiting friends and family with hard work and rest and relaxation.  I’m doing pretty well with that.  Make more art, promote art, live through art and try to see what art can be.   Best for 2010 and the year and the decade ahead. 

(Maurice Greenia, Jr.)

Curtis Cuffie, New York “street artist”

December 18, 2009

I remember Curtis Cuffie.  I probably saw him seven or eight times, while visiting New York.  Mostly, it was around Cooper Square.  He’d be building his wild constructions, often next to the chain link fence.

He made much of his art while he was homeless, living on the streets.  Sometimes he could be a little scary.  He’d seem to be angry or upset with you.  You could tell he didn’t want to talk.  Other times, he was a bit friendly.  It was as if he remembered me or saw I was some sort of “fellow artist.”

Sometimes he had a boombox playing various sorts of music including country music, Johnny Cash etc.

The last time I saw him, I gave him a few photographs I’d taken of Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.  He seemed to enjoy that.

I saw a number of other things he made, that I didn’t get to photograph.  Some amazing work!  There are always amazing and innovative street artists around New York, but he was one of the best.  I loved his artwork.  It was great to be able to watch him work a bit or to encounter one of his pieces.

Sometimes, I’d see it a day later and it would be way different.  Eventually, a lot of his street art ended up in the dump, carted away by the sanitation department!

2001  Exhibit at Intuit in Chicago:


Here’s more good information on Curtis Cuffie.

This is a photograph of him, below.  All photos were taken by me, except for this portrait.

Slim’s Bike

December 10, 2009


Restless Experimentation

December 4, 2009

There’s an idea in art that you need to throw yourself into the intensity.  If you’re going to find the magic, there’ll always be a few rough patches, a bit of trouble.  There’s a need to disrupt your life.  If you’re getting too safe or too comfortable, then maybe you’d better shake things up a bit.

I always say “forget the habitual short cuts.  They’re ok in their place, but it’s usually better to take the scenic route or the long and difficult path.”

I just started reading Ian Carr’s biography of Miles Davis.  Miles on Charlie Parker: “Bird used to play forty different styles.  He was never content to remain the same.”  Then, years later, Miles  said “That’s what I tell my musicians; I tell them to be ready to play what you  know and above what you know.  Anything might happen above what you’ve been used to playing-you’re ready to get into that, and above that, and take that out.”

Some of us live lives of restless experimentation, sometimes reckless as well.  This is true in music as well as in writing, in the visual arts and more.  Sometimes you just have to push the envelope.

the weight of thoughts and dreams

“Take your first idea and then throw it away.  Try to go against what is easy for you.  Test yourself.”  Will Marion Cook (to Duke Ellington)

I think I transcribed that off of a documentary film on television.  Thus the quote might not be totally exact.  Yet I appreciate the sentiments.

Cook was an influential early jazz musician and composer.  He was an influence on Duke Ellington.  You try to create the music you hear inside of your head (but can’t quite play).  You try to take the pictures you see in your head and make them visible.  Neither comes out quite the same as your initial vision, but it can be close to that.

You can try to turn your art inside out, upside down and backwards but sometimes you just need to let it play out as it is.  Creativity is a trip, a voyage, a journey and a quest.  It’s kind of like life itself, if you’re doing it right.