On this, another wonderful trip to Tucson, I had a chance to sit in on one of Simon’s popular classes: Students would bring samples of their work, colleagues would comment, Simon would critique and offer direction. Foothills housewives, timid high-school students, established artists, the class attracted a mixed bag in terms of both demographic and talent. Miles, an experienced painter whose chosen medium was encaustic, showed his work that day. I’d met Miles during an earlier visit (he’d been inserting tens of thousands of toothpicks into Saguaro sculptures Simon was creating) and had liked him instantly; he was extremely nice, friendly from the get-go and welcomingly flirty, an unbeatable combo. After class, I accompanied Miles back to the gallery he’d opened, saw his work on exhibit, toured his studio and wound up buying a beautiful small encaustic from him, one that I now admire daily in my New England home. This photo, shot through a window during Simon’s class, seems to be framed by the vertical stripes that also boldly mark the painting I bought from Miles. Textures, colors, shapes and light -- it suggests so much that I love about the American Southwest.
February 25, 2017
February 24, 2017
February 23, 2017
I’ve heard that visitors to Italy divide naturally into two camps: those who favor Florence, those who side with Rome. I’m squarely in the earthier Roman camp, but that doesn’t render me immune to the charms of its more formal northern rival. The glorious Tuscan light, the Giotto frescos in Santa Croce, the vibrant student life in the oltrarno, the treasures of the Uffizi (uncrowded only during the lunch hour), the gritty communal energy of the no-frills working-men’s trattoria I’d discovered (pasta or soup? beef, chicken or pork? basta) and the serendipitous views, like this one, a fisherman I spotted by chance in the Arno late one autumn afternoon.
February 22, 2017
My first trip to Los Angeles, so naturally I wanted to see all the mythic places, fabled in legend and in song. Among them: the Hollywood Sign, Marilyn Monroe’s grave, Muscle Beach, Frederick’s of Hollywood, the stars along Hollywood Boulevard, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Fortunately my friend Artie, a transplant from NYC to LA, was happy to indulge me. And my proclivity toward jumping pictures, this example of which was shot at Westwood Mortuary. I stayed at the Chateau Marmont (before it got all glammed up after John Belushi’s overdose) as Gore Vidal had lionized it in Myra Breckenridge. Artie and his partner Danny took me to a genuine Hollywood party (where I was introduced to “Loretta Young’s decorator” and an out-of-it young lady who said she played “the nurse in American Werewolf in London.”) Danny, at the time, was working for Paramount, his main responsibility, he told me, making sure Cindy Williams “stayed sober and behaved” at events. They generously made sure their starry-eyed East Coast friend had the complete Hollywood experience, even taking me to a Mexican restaurant “where Jane Fonda eats.” And before I left town, I’d seen Jimmy Stewart on a streetcorner and Elizabeth Taylor in a car stopped at a red light. Hooray!