Driving Down a Road to Nowhere; Driving Down a Road to Somewhere

Driving Down a Road to Nowhere; Driving Down a Road to Somewhere

For an abstract painter, where nearly everything in life is abstract, painting is very much like driving down a road to nowhere. At the same time it is very much like driving down a road to somewhere. The distance between the two is thinly veiled. A slice in time and space. With no GPS to guide this way or that. There is no up and down, no left and right. Only space unfolding. Intuition plays a great part in all of this. But, if you listen too hard or too often, intuition will turn on you as well. It cannot do the work. It is not up to this enormous task. The painter must find the path. The painter must struggle through the reeds, the muck, the mire, the bramble. Torn and bloodied the painter crawls up from the slippery slope back onto the road. Sometimes you see something in the distance, but it is nothing. Other times you see nothing but your own hand, your own doubt and the painting appears before you. This is the magic of painting: it chooses you as much as you choose it. The road comes to a turn. One gets out and walks under a full moon. The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear;...
Embracing Beauty and the Dance of Life in the Face of Violence

Embracing Beauty and the Dance of Life in the Face of Violence

There is a great need within the human condition to embrace beauty in the face of horror. We live in a troubled world. It has always been a troubled world. It seems a bit more troubled, of late, with terrorist attacks upon innocent people by groups who are nihilist by nature and enjoy killing more than living. The desire to seek beauty in life goes back through recorded time. This desire precedes recorded time; far earlier cultures drew on cave walls and painted their own bodies and faces with the juice of berries and plants before written language existed. Killing can be traced back just as far. There is killing on a smaller tribal scale – where warriors in one tribe hunted down their tribal enemies, cutting off the heads of the opposition and subsequently kicking those heads around the campfire, or posting them on assorted spikes and trees. We have, as well, killing on a far larger scale in World War One and World War Two, clearly showing us that killing runs deep in human beings. The nearly successful attempt of the Nazi regime to kill all the Jews of Europe illustrates this point quite well. One must also consider the crusades, which ran for decades and in which many were killed in the name of this or that god. And yet, all through human development, individuals have sought beauty in the visual arts, music, dance, poetry and film. We are a complicated species capable of much love and grace and at the same time capable of much horror and destruction. When Matisse painted ‘the dance’, his great...
My Visit to See Francis Bacon Paintings at Gagosian New York

My Visit to See Francis Bacon Paintings at Gagosian New York

I recently attended the new Francis Bacon exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in New York. I was struck by how very powerful his paintings were and was unexpectedly pulled into them, having seen them many times. This most recent visit was intense in its grasp of my attention and emotion. Bacon is a most curious painter in that he combined a raw and gritty set of images against a beautifully painted and often serene backdrop. Combining the beautiful with the grotesque gives Bacon’s work an unexpected mystery and strength. Francis Bacon came from a design background and did a certain amount of set design early in his career. He had a way with color that was somewhat schizophrenic. The ‘set’ or ‘stage set,’ within which his figures writhe and twist and bend and scream, is painted in a fairly flat and beautifully coordinated way. It occurred to me during this visit how elegant were the backdrops, lean and clean and very much like a Motherwell painting in their sensitivity to flat planes of color and beautifully aligned edges. The creation of a proscenium sets the stage quite literally for the drama that is about to unfold. Within this ‘stage set,’ Bacon gives us figures that are anything but beautiful. Often grey and grisly, Francis Bacon’s figures are twisted and torn, whether sitting or stretched out on the floor. Bacon’s figures are bruised and bent, sometimes missing parts of their anatomy – as if the pressures of life have carved entire chunks of flesh away. Bacon was interested in diseases of the mouth and one sees in many of his paintings...
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...
A Conversation with Interior Designer Susanna Salk

A Conversation with Interior Designer Susanna Salk

Interior design expert, home stager, author and stylist Susanna Salk stepped away from her busy life of touring homes, both nationally and internationally, for her Quintessence video series to answer some of my questions about design. Join us for a conversation on inspiration, the process of transforming a home, and how Susanna would design her dream getaway cabin. Gary Komarin: What got you interested in design? Was it always in your blood? Susanna Salk: I dreamed of growing up and becoming a powerful woman who created sexy advertising campaigns in glossy magazines. My first job out of college happened to be at Condé Nast International helping head up the New York satellite office for all their international shelter magazines. From their Elle Decor and then House and Garden and onto my own design work so it was more like a transfusion. Gary Komarin: If you had a perfect client, how would you describe that client? Susanna Salk: Someone who can inspire me as equally as they can stay open to being inspired. Someone who can be fearless, honest and funny. Gary Komarin: As you do design projects on television, as well as books, how would you compare the two experiences? Does one feed or ‘speak’ to the other, or is it an apples and grapes comparison? Susanna Salk: If you love what you do and are open to anything, then all mediums – not to mention the people you meet along the way – start cross pollinate each other continually. Gary Komarin: What do you do with a client who likes your idea initially, but shows resistance overtime? Do...