Cakes & Drips / Drips & Cakes

I have been painting cakes in one format or another, on paper and canvas, tall and lean, square or rotund, light or dark since the mid-90’s when I was invited to show with jean Michel- Basquiat, Phillip Guston and Bill Traylor in New York. The question of drips or no drips in the cakes comes up quite often more often than you might suspect. The curious thing is that whether doing an abstraction of a cake, which in effect all of the Komarin cakes are large, small or lean and tall: some cakes have more drips, some have few and several have nearly none at all. A drip can mean many things to many people and there is something odd or wonderful in human nature that some see a drip as positive, a good thing, and others the opposite. Not just cakes, but in real life or daily life, that drip that occurs when the icing is perhaps too thin or too hot when applied, but when you think about it, all liquids drips, whether water, blood, milk or wine. A drip can be watched or recorded nowadays as it moves along a flat plane of a painting or a woman’s dress as a glass of wine tumbles about at a boisterous dinner party or a rocky ship. Humans weep and those tears are drips and water flows over steep rocks and those are drips too. Are they beautiful, ugly or somewhere in between? Deliberate or not, they have energy, they move, and they are unpredictable. A brand new Mercedes fresh from the factory does not want to have...

On the Surface/Under the Surface: What is Going on in Painterly Abstraction?

A painter, whether abstract or not, makes marks on the surface of the canvas. The brush hits the weave of the cloth and leaves behind marks of some kind, whether broad or short or drippy or creamy or wide or narrow, thick or thin. But what happens, often in a quite magical way, is that a certain drama begins to unfold ‘under’ the surface, in that repeated layers of paint create a whirlwind of forms and energies and swaths of paint, that can speak to the viewer, collector, and admirer……in ways that are somehow even more poetic and oblique than what sits on the surface. One thinks of a person, a human being who has an outer surface, a certain physicality, color, tone, texture, skin – smooth or rough , hair – long or short or in between brow furrowed or smooth, wrists thin or thick. There are nearly infinite possibilities. And yet under the surface, there are things seen but also ‘felt’ that have as well – a life of their own, and we as sensitive beings can feel and somehow know this under the surface world. It can be an angry person under a calm visage or a shy person under a rumpled outer layer…..or any number of combinations. An abstract painterly painting can in fact, have yet more going on visually and emotionally ‘under’ the surface than on the surface the viewer must engage with the painting, breathe a bit or a bit more slow things down and come to know the under layers where “life” with all its attendant joys and sorrows plays out for...

The Poetic Oblique and Abstract Painting

Collectors often ask about the titles of Komarin paintings, or more specifically the relationship between the titles and the paintings intrigues many and questions often arise. As mentioned in assorted interviews and catalog texts, I keep a box of titles in the studio in a plain hand built hand painted simple box. In this box are snippets of poetry, street names, sections of novels, and assorted words and phrases that seem to happily come my way. Recently while reading an email from a friend in the country, I realized that in her haste to write out the email she had somehow written the following “ever nice the last time you were looking for him.” This was a somewhat unintentionally oblique sentence that hinted at a meeting of two people, but poetic and somewhat hard to decipher at the same time. This is what I liked about the line! It reminded me of abstract painting in that a certain painting moment or phrase or form can allude to one thing and then another and then yet another. In an abstract painting, such overlaps and incongruities are part of the delight and charm and beauty of the piece, not the opposite. Complete clarity is not the desired goal at all. Hence this line, so very simple and poetic made its way to my hand painted box of titles and will soon marry a particular painting that may yet not have been brought as yet to...

Work or Play?

Many people, whether collectors, curators, art critics or simply curious individuals with an appetite for learning ask: is abstract painting work or is it play? Of course answering this question depends a lot on how you define work vs play as these terms often overlap and mean different things to different people. For me, painting is a lot about play. One gets into the studio not really knowing how the moments will go. The loaded brush moves quickly on the canvas, dripping this way and that, a form filled in with paint, scraped, removed, and then perhaps repainted in a different or parallel fashion, playful decisions keeping the too thinking brain out of the way. When a child paints, whether with fingers or brushes, they lose themselves in the painting. They tilt their heads, sometimes even resting on an extended arm and sing and dance their way into the painting. A child under the age of ten rarely cares about proportion or perspective. They are ever so free to deal with color and shape and this freedom is a beautiful thing to observe. Top and bottom, east and west, north and south all get happily lost in the painting process. Work for many individuals is a daily grind, something they dread or look to avoid and the term work implies seriousness, intention and a final product or series of decisions. For me while an adult with a ‘playful’ state of mind painting allows me for a time at least to return to a childlike state Picasso said, “when I was 14 years old I could paint like an old master. It took me the rest of...
A Conversation with Dick Cavett, Legendary TV Talk Show Host

A Conversation with Dick Cavett, Legendary TV Talk Show Host

I was honored to speak with America’s great conversationalist, writer, and television legend Dick Cavett for this installation of Questions from the Studio. He was kind enough to share a bit about his childhood growing up in Nebraska and insights into his process for the Dick Cavett Show, as well as thoughts on God…and Justin Bieber.   Gary Komarin: What did you dream about becoming…as a kid in Nebraska? Dick Cavett:  I knew, seemingly from birth, that I wanted to be in show business. I was, in a way, by doing magic shows during high school for as much as $35 a night. A fortune. And I dreamed of and yearned for New York. I knew I’d get there somehow and that something would happen there to make people say, “There goes Dick Cavett.” (When that happened, after a time, it proved a bit less fun than I’d hoped.) Gary Komarin: How did growing up in the middle of the country shape your point of view? Dick Cavett:  I’m not sure I ever formed what you’d call a Midwestern- influenced point of view. I didn’t feel any great affection for my Midwest upbringing – the elm-lined streets, the fairs, the prairies – until I left it all. Now I can’t get enough of it when I go back on visits and my affection for it looms. Gary Komarin: Do you believe that the better the question, the better the answer…or is that too simplistic? Dick Cavett:  If you mean in a talk show, it shouldn’t be a matter of questions. Jack Paar told to me never to do interviews. That’s Q...
A Conversation with David Leite, Culinary Icon & Author

A Conversation with David Leite, Culinary Icon & Author

David Leite is a memoirist, author, and publisher of Leite’s Culinaria – the first website to win a James Beard Award. Between writing his memoir, blogging and radio appearances we found time for a short conversation about food, grandmothers, Proust, Freud and cooking naked. Gary Komarin: When did you first start taking food “seriously” and why? David Leite: When my maternal grandmother died in 1992, all the foods of my heritage–the foods I grew up with–were gone. My mother had her versions, but they were just that: versions. So I set out to recreate as many as I could as a way of staying connected to her. The unexpected result was I fell in love with Portuguese foods and culture—something I’d been running from since I was a kid. All my life I had wanted to be blond and blue-eyed and eat bologna on white bread. Not kale soup or octopus stew or sardines. That changed in 1992. And that was the impetus for my cookbook, The Portuguese Table. The book is dedicated to my grandmother. Gary Komarin: Where do you see your talent residing? Does it lean toward the analytical, the creative or some combination? David Leite: If I could answer that, I could start my own foundation and become rich as hell. I have no idea where my talent resides. It’s just there. It’s an impulse, sometimes clouded, other times fully formed. But I don’t set out to “create something.” If anything, I follow prompts, whispers, nudges from within. When I act on those prompts, I find myself bumping around in the dark a lot, like when we...