November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Category — Painting

Hawk Alfredson, Artist/Interview


Icon for an Unknown Religion | Oil on Canvas | 39″ x 33″ |  1999

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But Not Sublime 

with Mike Foldes

If to describe Hawk Alfredson’s paintings as dreamlike goes without saying,  why did I bother? Because they’re his dreams, not yours. To those of us simultaneously inside and outside this Swedish-American painter’s world, the images reach far and wide, as far back as Scandinavian and European legend, as far forward as tomorrow when an understanding and appreciation of his craft and skill blend seamlessly with  the work itself. Easily recognizable are the armored knights and stone castles, but why then mix that into a visual cacaphony occasionally interrupted by the cold calm of river stones and embellished vortices.  These images derive from a wide-ranging portfolio of influences the artist says often come to him at the threshhold of wakefulness. It is this “awakening” we are fortunate to observe in Alfredson’s  art.

Alfredson was born in Orebro, Sweden in 1960. He arrived to New York City in 1995.  From 2001 to 2010, he and his wife, photographer Mia Hanson, were residents of the Hotel Chelsea, where his work was commonly seen in staircases and hallways. He was interviewed by  Abel Ferrara in “Chelsea On The Rocks”, and many of those paintings can be seen throughout the film.  Hawk and Mia moved to Washington Heights; the hotel closed in 2012. Neither of them has a studio at the moment; Hawk paints in a small area on the floor in the apartment, and Mia works where the jobs take her. Each has numerous commercial pieces to his/her credit, including book and album covers, magazine covers and advertising.

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Ragazine: What was your work like as a child, and how long did it take for you to actually develop drawing skills?

Hawk Alfredson:  I just returned from Sweden two months ago and in my mother’s attic I found an old suitcase filled with childhood & teenage drawings. Early on, I remember it was in school at about age six or seven years when I realized that I was more advanced at drawing than the other kids my age and I really enjoyed doing it. Every year in school thereafter the teachers would pin my work up on the wall and the other children would crowd around to look at my work. Relating to this somehow, I’ve believed in reincarnation since I was 16, and feel today that I must have been an artist in one or several of my life-times.  I guess it took a couple hundred years or many more to develop my skills, but I finally believe that I have become in this life the artist that I was always striving to be.

Q) Did you receive a lot of encouragement from your family? Were they interested in your art, or did they direct to other pursuits?

A) My father was a hobby painter and my mother and I spent a lot of time drawing and painting watercolors together when I was very young. When I was around the age of six, I vaguely remember watching a documentary about artists and realized then that this was to be my path…my calling. When I was seven or eight years old I announced to my parents that I wanted to be an artist after previously wanting to be an archaeologist. It was at this time that I finished my first oil painting, a black & white whale jumping out of the ocean. My father helped guide me through this. I remember thinking how much more difficult it was to paint well than it was to draw. It was a bit intimidating so I went back to drawing on my own for a couple years. Throughout school my teachers would often encourage my artistic skills to the point that it became natural for me to expect that I would move north to Stockholm to attend art school after finishing my compulsory education. And so this is what I did when I was 16. I left my small village in the south of Sweden and never returned.

Tight Antic II

Tight Antic II | Oil on Canvas | 59″ x 79″ |  1992-2007

Q) Your paintings remind me of Albrecht Dürer; perhaps that’s the Old World influence some reviewers have spoken about in your work. Was that an evolutionary or conscious process to arrive at that point?

A) I was never interested in artists who basically just throw some paint on a canvas & then smear it out with a broom or something. I’m always drawn to painters that work with a skillful technique. Because of this, very few contemporary artists really affect me. Visiting the great classical museums of the world, you come across great older works that share a commonality: technique.  However, sometimes a painter might have “it” but they might fall short on technique. Technique in general isn’t everything. Many times the most important quality an artist must have is a life experience that comes across lucidly upon the canvas. I enjoy being surprised by work like this even more. As Dali once said, “An artist must have hands that are guided by an angel,” or words to that effect.

Q) With which of the classical surrealists did you or do you most closely identify?

A) Back when I was in art school in Stockholm in the late ’70s, it was Dali and Magritte. Today, Magritte doesn’t do much for me anymore, but Dali’s strongest work (from the ‘50s and ‘60s) is still fascinating on many levels.

While in art school I traveled all throughout Europe. And in my early 20s I had a very profound experience in Paris when I saw a Giacometti painting. It totally mesmerized me, and put me in a ghostly, dreamlike hypnotic state of mind where time and space disappeared. No other painter has ever managed to do this to me. What is absolutely unbelievable to me is that he is better known for his sculptures.


V10N5 Hawk Alfredson

Hawk Alfredson Paintings, V10N5

These Senses Never Sleep
These Senses Never Sleep
A Dim Immortality
A Dim Immortality
Lost World
Lost World
Icon for an Unknown Religion
Icon for an Unknown Religion
Zen Window
Zen Window
Chance Meeting with Circlings
Chance Meeting with Circlings
The Dragon's Mreath
The Dragon's Mreath
The Presposterous Propos
The Presposterous Propos


Q) How much a part does music play in the formulation of your work?

A)  Music of all kinds has always influenced me.  If I hadn’t become an artist, I probably would have found my way creating weird, uncategorizable music. The past years I don’t listen to music very often while I paint. I’ve found it to be too distracting, especially if there’s lyrics. However, if I do listen, it’s usually ambient music.  The painting process needs total focus. Sometimes I get into a deep space within and nothing is of a distraction. It takes a good run of a couple days of intense work to get there, though.  Generally, I’ve noticed the surrounding cacophonous noises of NYC are enough of a distraction and take the place of music. Paintings are sensitive objects.  I believe they act as mystical recording devices soaking up the surrounding energy and music of their environment. If anyone can hear music seeping through my paintings, which some have said they can, then it’s most likely from all the sound energy involved in the painting process.

Q: I would imagine any artist coming to NY trying to make it in this scene would have great dreams, and unfortunately not everyone can make a living at it…. Who is  your dealer now, and what would you say to someone just coming to New York who’s looking to make that kind of connection?

A: This question is actually quite complex. Basically, things have changed dramatically in NYC since I first got here in 1995. For instance, back then I had a show going on every day of the year for the first two years I was here. I would hop from one show opportunity to the next. The underground art scene was vital and still alive in the 90’s, especially in the East Village. And SoHo was of course going strong with established galleries. The neighborhood wasn’t overrun with fashion boutiques and aggressively competitive rents. These days, it seems artists have no place in a city that is desperate to make money simply to feed a machine. It’s an entirely different situation for the young artist coming to NYC now. For success, the young artist depends on an art establishment that is open to fresh ideas and is capable of taking a chance on an unproven talent. This is not the NYC we have post 9/11. 

Q: Who are your current dealers?

A: I have kept an affiliation with my private art dealer in Stockholm since 1994. His name is Jan Linder. Here in the states, I’m represented by  Limner Gallery in Hudson, New York. I also work closely with a couple other private art dealers here in New York City.

Q:  How did you meet your wife, Mia?

A: We met at a gallery in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in 1997. I was having a solo show there and she walked in one day when I wasn’t around and took a good look at all the paintings hanging from floor to ceiling. She was immediately hooked and tracked me down. A couple years later we were living together in Stockholm. A Swedish journalist wrote about our meeting: “It was love before first sight. Mia felt Hawk’s presence, his language, yes his entire being just through studying the detailed paintings.”

hawkbookQ:  Your N.Y. history includes a long stint living at the Chelsea Hotel. In an artistic sense, I can only imagine it was a creatively communal experience. While you grew and prospered there, would you agree, “It’s not for everyone”?

A:  Nine years at the Hotel is very difficult to put into a nutshell.  We had insane neighbors sometimes. One actually accused me of painting her breasts when I had never even seen her naked… ever! I had a couple of my “Circling” paintings hanging in the 4th floor corridor where we both lived and she complained to the management that I was painting her breasts. The “Circling” paintings I had started long before I ever met her and honestly, I don’t even associate them with any part of the human form at all. For all of those nine years I had paintings hanging in the staircase, as well.  Also in the lobby and in a few V.I.P. rooms. There were over 50 paintings of mine displayed in the Hotel. It was an amazing and very unique situation. The owner of the Hotel, Stanley Bard, encouraged me to hang as many paintings as I wished throughout the Hotel. And so I did. Unexpectedly, I noticed it wasn’t too long after I started hanging my oil paintings in the open spaces in the staircase that other resident artists did so, as well. There were some few paintings throughout the 10 floors of the staircase before Mia and I moved in – this was in 2001 – but it was sparse and uninspiring to be honest. 

Q: Do you have any shows coming up?

A: I have work showing at Minerva Gallery, however outside of this I’m pretty open right now. I’m interested to hear from anyone who has an offer!

Q: Anything you would like to tell our readers that you always hoped someone would ask about but never did? 

A: Verbal communication is not something I usually put a lot of effort into when it comes to my own artistic process. You will never see me giving a lecture or teaching a class on the subject of art. It’s difficult to talk about the intuitive artistic process so I’m glad I haven’t needed to delve into that too deeply here. To be honest, the more time advances, the more reticent I feel toward verbalizing my art. What I can say about my artistic process is that I am always hunting for the mysterious while I paint. When I begin a painting I have no definitive destination. Rather, while I work I encourage subliminal ideas and cosmic forces to collaborate with the process. In any case, I’d like to circle back to one of my favorite quotes from any artist- it’s from Jean Cocteau: “An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.”

For more images, see, and facebook:

To purchase a copy of Alfredson’s book, click on this link:

Click here for Mia Hanson Interview and galleries.

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About the interviewer:

Michael Foldes is founder and managing editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in About Us.

This interview was conducted via email between February and May 2014.

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August 29, 2014   1 Comment

Now and Then/Steve Poleskie



“East Village” Painting by Raphael Soyer. Poleskie is in the foreground.



by Stephen Poleskie

I was lying in the chair, her hands in my mouth, when she asked the question. What did I think about my sixties? At least that’s what I thought I heard her say over the gurgling of the water rinsing out my mouth. We broke for air and I hurried to answer her before she began to pick and scrape again.

“I retired from Cornell when I was sixty. . . .” was all I got in before she went back to her task in earnest. Why do dental hygienists always start a conversation and then leave you hanging? “Snz den I kp bsy . . . I rt bks,” was the best I could manage, hoping she would ask me what kind of books I wrote.

“I meant the TV show,” she responded to my garbled response.

“Oh?” I mumbled, disappointed, and then had to listen while she described to me the television series about the 1960s that I had not watched.

As she turned to get something from the table behind her, my mouth momentarily my own, I asked if she had seen the episode about the Kennedy assassination. Yes, she said and asked had I. I told her that I had planned to as I was a bit of a conspiracy theory buff, having read Mark Lane’s “Rush to Judgment” when the book first came out. I remarked that I vividly remembered where I was the day the assassination took place.

“And where was that?” the hygienist asked, seemingly becoming interested, even briefly delaying her attack on my tartar.

“I was living in New York City, in a loft on Jefferson Street,” I began. “At the time I was a poor, struggling artist and couldn’t afford a telephone. I used to go down to the bar on the ground floor of our building to make calls. On that day I walked in to use the phone and found everyone glued to the TV screen.

“’Hey, hippie,’ the bartender yelled to me, at the time I had long hair and a beard. ‘Have ya heard? Someone’s shot da president. . . .’”

“Wow!” the young lady said, shoving her tools back into my mouth.

“n wnre wer u? . . .” I struggled to get out

“Where was I when Kennedy was shot?” she replied, a hint of incredulity in her voice, “I wasn’t even born. Neither was my mom and dad.”

I suddenly felt all of my full seventy-six years.

My “Sixties” actually began in 1959, the year I graduated from Wilkes College, where I had majored in extra-curricular activities. Nevertheless, in the middle of my senior year I had had a one-person exhibition of my paintings at The Everhart Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. For a young man from a small town across the river from Wilkes-Barre who had only been making art seriously for about three years, this was a big deal. I was sure my destiny was to be an artist. But first I had to experience a number of other jobs, which I must admit I didn’t try very hard at, and in a number of diverse locations.

In my early life, in the order they have occurred, as best as I can remember them, I have been: a stock boy, automobile repair shop assistant, sign painter, shoe salesman, men’s clothing salesman, summer stock actor, State Farm Insurance agent, designer of party favors, screen printer, and high school art teacher.

There were some high points. Working in the auto body shop, I learned to weld and after hours, made a series of steel sculptures, a few of which remain today, one in a museum collection. My “Whoopee Loot Bag” was a huge commercial success, sold in stores like Woolworths and stayed in production long after I had left the party favor company. As an artist for an outdoor advertising company in Miami, I had all the public swing-top garbage cans decorated to look like giant cans of Tropicana orange juice. This was years before Pop Art became the fashionable mode in the Big Apple. And teaching in Gettysburg High School, I had David Eisenhower as a student.

Leaving Gettysburg I went Mexico, thinking that there I might live cheaply on what I had saved. But the student art was so bad at the art school I had planned to attend that I left and drove to San Francisco, where exciting things were supposed to be going on. But, I couldn’t find anything interesting there, so headed back east. Why I went by way of Canada I cannot remember. At the time I had all my possessions and a young wife in my small car, an Austin-Healey Sprite.

I had a friend back in Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Rutkowski’s father, who at the time showed in a gallery in NYC and had gotten me accepted in several group shows there. Living near Wilkes-Barre, just two hours or so away, we often went down to “the city” on weekends. At the time the dominant art movement, Abstract Expressionism, was also referred to as, “The 10th Street School,” since most of the galleries that had shown this work in its early days were on East 10th Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. There was no place else I considered living. I would be on 10th Street.

Rutkowski, who had lived in Manhattan for several years, told me it wouldn’t be easy to find a place in NYC. I looked in the paper and immediately found a “studio” on East 10th Street, near Tompkins Square Park, just where I wanted to be. I rented it over the telephone, without even looking at it. After all it was a “studio” which was what I wanted. So naïve was I in those days that it was only when I got to the place with all my stuff and the super opened the door, did I discover that “studio apartment” was a euphemism for a small apartment that had the kitchen in the bedroom. But all was not lost. I moved in and the decision became one of the most fortuitous things in my early days in Manhattan, for reasons I shall relate in a later episode.

I signed up for some art classes at the New School: painting with Raphael Soyer, drawing with someone whose name I forget, and Aesthetics, with a professor who I remember well, except for his name. Although I was in the middle of the abstract expressionist’s neighborhood and my show at the Everhart Museum had been abstract paintings, I wanted something else. I wanted to paint “realistic” pictures.

I painted in the morning, worked at construction jobs in the afternoon, and went to classes in the evening. My wife, my first wife, worked as a doctor’s assistant. We occasionally hung out at an artist’s bar on Avenue A called Stanley’s, and frequented The Thomas Cinema, which showed experimental and indie films. One day driving down the East Side Highway, I had stopped to help a driver who was having car trouble. It turned out that the man was one of the owners of The Thomas. As a token of his appreciation for my help he gave me a lifetime pass for two to his cinemas.

I became very good friends with Raphael Soyer. One of the first things he told me was how to pronounce his name, explaining that he was not named after the great painter, but was a Jewish kid from New Jersey who preferred to be called “Ray-feel.” He came often to our apartment and did drawings and paintings of my wife and me. I also did a painting of him which you can see on my web site. My wife sometimes posed for his life drawing class.

Things were going well. I was learning a lot and making some nice paintings, quite different from the drip and splatter canvases that I had shown in Scranton. But money was becoming a problem. It is hard to believe that back then we were having difficulty paying the $85 per month rent.

The juried student show was coming up. Looking around I considered that my work was far superior to the other students, most of whom were not serious artists but house wives and professional men pursuing their hobby. I was sure that I would win one of the prize scholarships for the next semester.

Alas, it was not to be. My wife and I went to the opening only to discover that not only had I not won a scholarship, but also I had not even had my work accepted by the jury.

Raphael Soyer saw me standing there; he recognized the look of frustration on my face and knew what it was about.
“I voted for you,” he said. “But the two other jurors were abstract painters, so they rejected you.”

“But I need that scholarship. . . .”

“Don’t worry,” Mr. Soyer reassured me. “Go home and paint; I will come over and critique your work.”

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About the author:

Stephen Poleskie is a writer and artist. His artworks are in the collections of numerous museums, including the MoMA and the Metropolitan in NYC, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His writing has appeared in journals in Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, and the UK, as well as the USA. He has published seven novels, the most recent being Foozle Runs. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his wife the author Jeanne Mackin.

Web site:


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August 29, 2014   Comments Off on Now and Then/Steve Poleskie

On Location/France

Woman Informing Herself


An Interview

with Valentin Magaro

Digital & Analogue Explorations

by Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret 

Valentin Magaro fills up sketchbook after sketchbook, and many days he lets himself drift almost on automatic pilot guided by the image banks in his mind. He makes his compositions rapidly. They are inexhaustible exploratory pathways, sometimes pursued, sometimes abandoned along the way. Romanticism contrasts sharply with the thrilling styles of the scenes.  Each of his images works autonomously, but at the same time they irresistibly form a series and a narrative.


Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret: What makes you get up on morning?

Valentin Magaro: Our son. He wakes up early.

Q) What happened to your dreams as child?

A) I can’t remember.

Q) What did you give up?

A) My virginity.

Q) Where do you come from?

A) From the tummy of my mother.

Q) What is the first image you remember ?

A) The little forest in the garden of our house.

Q) And the first book ?

A) Wenn Kubaki kommt (a Swiss book for children).

Q) That is what distinguishes you from other artists?

A) An individual picture language.

Q) Where do you work and how?

A) I have a studio for my big acrylic-paintings and a little studio at home for my drawings ans my architectural models.
I create complex compositions. Every work always starts with a drawing in pencil. Later I transform the picture in many different technics.

Q) To whom do you never dare write ?

Q) What music do you listen to?

A) I listen to different kind of music. Music from the last 40 Years.

Q) What is the book you love to reread?

A) “Wahrheiten und Weisheiten”, a book from Beat Imhof with a collection of symbolic stories from the whole world.

Q) When you look yourself in a mirror who do you see?

A) A friendly young man that would help every old woman to cross the street.

Q) What city or place has value of myth for you?

A) Paris.

Q) What are the artists you feel closest?

A) Hieronymus Bosch, Willi Sitte, Hans Memling, Felix Vallotton, Michel Erhart.

Q) What film makes you cry?

A) Brokeback Mountain.

Q) What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A) That’s my secret (and the secret of my wife).

Q) What do you think of the sentence of Lacan: “Love is giving something that we don’t have to someone who does not want”?

A) Do you like Italian food?

Q)  And Woody Allen: “The answer is Yes, but what was the question?”

A) Is there life after death?


About the interviewer:

Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret contributes the On Location/France column to Ragazine. This interview was conducted in April 2014. You can read more about him in About Us.

August 29, 2014   Comments Off on On Location/France

On Location/France


Renate Buser, My castle my home“,
Festival ARTORT , Schlossruine Heidelberg, September 2013


What Is the Essence of Time?

by Jean Paul Gavard-Perret

For Renate Buser, born in 1961 in Basel,  a fiction as such can be real. In her use of fiction there is always a Buserspeculative dimension: the possible possible and the not possible possible. The Swiss artist instrumentalizes fiction in constructed situations in the same way others paint apples. However, she does not invite the spectator who is in front of her large images to take part. They are there, but they are more spectators of themselves than of the image the artist proposes in  her specific protocol . She is not interested in making a spectacle, even if the landscape is suddenly different.  But such photographs and “curtains”  tend to intensify the presence of the image. In front of these photographs it is probably the experience of duration, the passing of time, that facilitates the conscious thought that occurs in the gap between perception and the formation of memory. Buser’s views of sunlit curtains offer the possibility of a clarion explication brought by light as well as the knowledge that  present follows past, as day follows night and spring follows winter. Buser’s work enables new ways of thinking, making the viewer aware of the way he moves temporally through the streets and houses accumulating memory, perceiving life as mystifying images.

— Jean Paul Gavard Perret

JPGP:  What makes you get up on morning?

RB: I love my work and my life- that makes me get up in the morning.

JPGP: What happened to your dreams as child?

RB: My childhood  dreams still keep me going today.

JPGP: What did you give up?

RB: I have given up the idea of having children.

JPGP: Where do you come from?

RB: From a place called Barmelweid, 800 m above sea level and the fog belt, in the hills of the Jura, Switzerland.

Buser 1

JPGP: What is the first image you remember ?

RB: I remember being about 6 years old…, my friend and I climbed out on the roof top of our house, which was, for our parents, very scary.

JPGP: That is what distinguishes you from other artists?

RB: The size of my photographs.


JPGP: Where do you work and how?

RB: I work as much as possible outside, in big cities or historical sites , and inside in my studio, for  conceptual work and the execution of the final pieces.

JPGP: To whom do you never dare write?

RB: I admire a lot of artists, filmmakers, writers, architects,the list is very long. Cindy Sherman is one of them.

JPGP: What music you listen while working?

 RB: I dont listen to music while working.

JPGP: What is the book you love read again?

RB: Slightly out of focus, by Robert Capa.

JPGP: When you look yourself in a mirror who do you see?

RB: Me

JPGP: What city or place has value of myth for you?

RB: Magnesia, in Turkey

JPGP: What are the artists you feel closest?

RB: The one’ s who surprise me, for example:  Omer Fast.

JPGP: What film make you cry?

RB: This film makes me cry  – and laugh: Short Cuts, by Robert Altman

JPGP: What would you like to receive for your birthday?

RB: A trip to the North of Canada to see the northern lights ( Auroris Borealis)


This interview with photographer/artist Renate Buser by Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret, took place 7.September 2013.  See also: Renate Buser, “Photography in Architecture, Photography of Architecture in Pavilions”, Art in Architecture,  Edition Le Bord de L’Eau-La Muette 2013,  ISBN: 978 2 35687 245 6


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 buser a

Marc Desgranchamps, text Eric Verhagen, Fondation Salomon;
2013, Alex, France.

The Marc Desgrandchamps Experience

 by Jean Paul Gavard Perret

“What do you expect an artist to be? An imbecile who has only eyes if he is a painter, ears if he is a musician? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political human constantly alert to the heartrending, scalding and happy events in the world, molding himself in their likeness.”

Those words of Picasso could easily have been spoken by Desgrandchamps. Both are inspired by examples from the past, but powerfully engaged in its own present.



Desgrandchamp’s very engaged body of work is one with the man’s deep, powerful sense of the human condition. The painter’s practice embodies the belief that “existence precedes essence,” and that man is condemned to be free. He always allows himself to say what he feels and thinks, and to say it in his painting. His control of his actions and even destiny, as well as the values he adheres to, keeps both the man and the work free from parasites, independent of anything thrown at them by fashion or “spirit of age.”

With Desgrandchamps, painting has always the last word. It reaches beyond both the beholder and the painter himself, moving continuously from one canvas to another, yet without constituting a story. It conveys a power whose history can be realized as the consequence of its flight and its freedom.



About the reviewer: 

Jean-Paul Gavard-Perrett writes about music and the visual arts. Born in 1947 in Chambery (France), he was a professor of communication at the Université de Savoie. He has published several essays, mainly about Samuel Beckett and painting, and short fiction, most recently “Labyrinthes,” Editions Marie Delarbre.

December 31, 2013   Comments Off on On Location/France

Two Masters: Tagliarino & Chagall


Two Masters

of Angelic Painting

Dazzle Manhattan:

Salvatore Tagliarino & Marc Chagall

by  Dr. José Rodeiro, Art Editor, Ragazine. CC.

Photo-documentation and research

by Christie Devereaux and Sonia Ragir.


Clever people master life; the wise illuminate it, creating fresh difficulties.” 

 — Emile Nolde, Ungemalte Bilder, 1945.



In his 1933 essay Play and Theory of the Duende, Federico Garcia Lorca revealed three primary supernatural entities, which inspire all creativity: 1) muses, 2) angels, and 3) the duende.¹   Over the last eighty-years, since Lorca penned his insightful essay, much has been written concerning Art enthused by either the nine Greek muses, or, their complete opposite, the Andalusian duende.¹   On the other hand, very little has been published, concerning beatific (or angelic) inspiration.  This conspicuous lack of contemporary art historical analysis as well as art criticism, about what Lorca characterized as Art guided by Judeo-Christian angelic inspiration, is deplorable.   Yet, despite this glaring art historical or aesthetic oversight, in early winter of 2013-2014, Manhattan finds itself unexpectedly hosting two “dazzling,” beatific, and radiant painting exhibitions – bursting with angelic inspiration.²   One is uptown; where Marc Chagall’s prophetic images (created between 1930 and 1948), are resplendently on view at The Jewish Museum (1109  5thAvenue at 92nd Street).  Scheduled from September 15, 2013, to February 2, 2014, this stunning, emotionally intense, and colorful display (christened Chagall: Love, War, and Exile) was organized by Susan Tumarkin Goodman, Senior Curator Emerita at TJM.

Coinciding with Chagall’s uptown celestial banquet for the eyes, downtown in Greenwich Village, are four extraordinary angelic works extracted from a prodigious suite of fourteen other oils titled “The Labradorian Aspects of God Series,” by the Italian-American Radical-Postmodern master Salvatore Tagliarino.    His four “angelic” masterpieces are on view at New York University’s Albert Gallatin Galleries, within an intriguing 2013 NYU Faculty Show featuring eighteen distinguished visual artists who teach at the world-renowned Gallatin School of Individualized Study.   The exhibit starts Thursday, December 5, 2013 with a 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM opening reception.  

(The show continues until Thursday, January 16, 2014, at the Gallatin Building, 1 Washington Place (off-Broadway/two-blocks from 8th Street), NYC, NY, 10003.  The central gallery is on the 1st floor opposite Washington Place; additional ancillary galleries are on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floor.)




In order to unhurriedly (or “dreamily”) grasp Manhattan’s current “angelic” winter, let’s place our main focus on Tagliarino’s four valiant images on display at Gallatin Galleries: 1). The Creation of All the Animals;  2). The Cattle of the Field;  3).  In the Cool of the Garden, and 4). All the Fish of the Sea.  In both sentiment and aspiration, each of these visionary mystic-images are hot-on-the-trail of “The Great Cosmic Everything” and accordingly, each Labradorian painting alludes to sublime, numinous, and poetic works, by such angelic poet-painters as: William Blake, Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins (SJ), Florine Stettheimer, Charles Burchfield, Morris Graves, as well as the late-works of both Oskar Kokoschka and Emile Nolde.   And, as indicated by the series’ overall title The Labradorian Aspects of Godevery painting contains a striking portrait of Tagliarino’s beloved jet-indigo Labrador retriever, “Cobalt.”  Importantly, Tagliarino’s aesthetic fidelity to animal-subjects throughout the “Series” reflects his admiration for Italy’s patron-saint, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), who likewise serves (in the Roman Catholic Church) as “the patron saint of animals,” owing to his legendary championing of all creatures,’ asserting their innate divinity.

In this Franciscan context, Cobalt symbolizes the artist’s Assisi-esque immanentist animistic awareness, which combines the eternal presence and spiritual essence of the dog’s soulful canine-being,  consequently unleashing revelations, e. g., disclosing that the reverse (or ‘inverted’) spelling of the word “Dog” denotes “God.”  An insight discovered by T.S. Eliot, who in 1922 first divulged this “Dog”/”God” realization in the last three lines of the first section (“The Burial of the Dead”) of his epic-poem The Waste Land.    Both Eliot in his poem and Tagliarino in his “Series,” juxtapose or contrast human-longings for salvation against a verdant “Garden of Eden” that is circumspectly compared with a barren desert (a Waste Land), in which “a consecrated burial plot” is ceremoniously gardened (or tended) amid sacred vegetation.  For example, in Tagliarino’s  In the Cool of the Garden, a serene dark blue-tinged dog is depicted happily “present” beneath an unseen double canopy of shade provided by “The Tree of Life” and “The Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.”  Thus, the painting’s subtitle, Cobalt Talking to God” reaffirms Eliot’s prophetic caveat:

“Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,

Or with his nails, he’ll dig it up again!”

“You! hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblade, – mon frère!”

Tagliarino’s art echoes or reaffirms the collaborative effort of Ezra Pound [(Vorticist and US-expatriate poet)] when he faithfully mentored his fellow expatriate, Eliot, concerning the careful assemblage of each bit of literary pastiche that encompass The Waste Land.    As a result, both Pound and Eliot evolved the “Dog” line(s) from 17th Century dramatist, John Webster’s The White Devil;³ where, in Act V, Scene IV, Webster originally wrote the lycanthropic term “wolf,” for which Pound and Eliot substituted “Dog,”³ thereby, instantly converting Webster’s canine nails³ into the ancient Roman carpentry-nails driven into Christ’s wrists and ankles.   But, even more important is Pound’s/Eliot’s pilfering of the last line of Charles Baudelaire’s “The Preface” (titled: “To the Reader”), which introduces the audacious collection of Bohemian poems known as The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du mal, 1857):  “You! hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblade, – mon  frère!    Like Chagall (as revealed to him in 1977 by his brilliant friend Sidney Alexander(4),  in Alexander’s book “Marc Chagall” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978) (4), Tagliarino perceptively comprehends Baudelaire’s angry admonition to infer that art is ultimately about the viewer, the audience, the spectator, which is why Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Henri Bergson, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault insist that via contact with art, audiences are able to become completely transmogrified (“metamorphosed”) into “the” real (actual) “creator” of whatever ART they are viewing, reading, encountering or confronting, even when an unconscious hypocrite lecteur might be unaware of “her/his” divine transformation on the wings-of-art.

img225-3x5The theme of a garden persists in three of Tagliarino’s NYU images: The Creation of All the Animals; The Cattle of the Field; and the aforementioned In the Cool of the Garden. Throughout each of these paintings, layers of iconological strata are apparent, e.g., every animal connotes a symbolic signification, functioning like archetypes.  For example, in the work titled: The Cattle of the Field, the cow is crushing the head of a snake, an undertaking usually reserved for (or identified with) the Blessed Virgin Mary.   Also, the mother cow and her calf subtlety hint at the most pious of themes: “The Madonna and Child.”  In the image titled: The Creation of All the Animals, the orange triangle in the top center (signifying The Blessed Trinity) is lifted or held in flight by a lonely white dove: the Holy Spirit.  Or, in hyper-Romantic Labradorian seascape titled All the Fish of the Sea, Tagliarino draws crystalline attention to the ongoing 21st Century litany of natural catastrophes, predicted (in a cave on the Ionian Island of Patmos by the angel-inspired St. John the Divine in 97 CE) as harbingers of The Apocalypse.

According to Lorca’s 1933 essay,¹ angels² always direct their flashes of inspiration toward the future, igniting creative inspiration that is generally farsighted, prophetic, and telepathic. Angels² hover around certain visionary, playful, hyper-imaginative, or prophetic  artists (i.e., Fra Angelico, Fra Lippi, young-Botticelli, Cranach the Elder, Murillo, William Blake, Turner, Monet, Dufy, Chagall, Matisse, Delaunay, Miró, Reverón, Charles Burchfield,  Helen Frankenthaler, Elizabeth Murray, Dale Chihuly, Julie Mehretu, Ultra Violet, Peter Saul, Kenny Scharf, Duda Penteado and Salvatore Tagliarino, etc., etcetera), carefully guiding them to envision divine prophecies that reveal splendid unexpected breakthroughs, insights, and other unfathomable surprises.   Occasionally, despite their mutual revulsion, angels and the duende inadvertently and suddenly collaborate; yet, such odd or unwilling alliances remain an uncommon phenomena, and only visible sporadically among an anomalous handful of half-duende/half-angel artists, i.e., Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Soutine, Kokoschka, Nolde, Morris Graves, Malcolm Morley, Pablo Caviedes, Duda Penteado, as well as manifesting in several sublime works by Chagall and Tagliarino.  These atypical aesthetic occurrences are extremely rare given that the duende affords angels, as well as muses, little kindness, forbearance, or sympathy.¹


Visionary, virtuoso, and glorious art works simply pour out of him, making him one of New York’s most versatile artists (a painter, a poet, and producer, a free-lance set designer as well as a legendary teacher at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he taught for 40 years, achieving professor emeritus status).  Currently, he is on the full-time Art Faculty at the world-renowned Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  In 2005, he was honored with the highly esteemed “Premio Arte” award for his design-work.  Recently, he has been exhibiting nationally and internationally with the celebrated La Ruche Art Contemporary Consortium (5); and, exhibiting in NYC’s metropolitan area with ASCA (The American Society of Contemporary Artists).  Plus, he has worked with noted designers Wolfgang Wagner, Oliver Smith, and Josef Svoboda, and associated with Federico Fellini at Cinecittà, Rome.  His set-designs have graced Houston Grand Opera; Nevada Opera Association; New York Lyric Opera; Alvin Ailey’s tribute to Duke Ellington; Larry Richardson Dance Company; Rouben Terartunian’s productions for The New York City Ballet, and The Joffrey Ballet.  Plus, he designed productions for Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Alan King, Ben Vereen, Helen Reddy’s Home Box Office specials; Denis Roussos (at the London Palladium); The Manhattan Theater Club; the Westbeth Theater; The New York Shakespeare Fesitval, and Public Broadcasting System’s “Dance in America.”  He is currently a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (“The Emmy Awards”). For more on this creative dynamo, check: .

Lastly, since it is not every year that New York City allows two hyper-celestial, “ultra-angelic,” archangel-inspired² painting exhibitions during the same Vivaldian season, so (after December 5) please take your eyes uptown to see Marc Chagall’s ethereal flights-of-fantacy at the Jewish Museum and then dash downtown to see Salvatore Tagliarino’s sublime quartet of images from “The Labradorian Aspects of God  Series” at NYU’s Gallatin Galleries  —  as a reminder, Tagliarino will be on hand for the cheese and wine festive “holiday-season” opening on December 5 from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM, Gallatin Building, 1 Washington Place (off-Broadway/two-blocks from 8th Street).


1).  José Rodeiro’s essay What is Duende

2).   The names of prominent archangels include: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Sariel, Raguel and Remiel; to name a few.

3).  John Webster’s The White Devil, Act V, Scene IV:  “But keep the wolf far thence, that ‘s foe to men,/ For with his nails he’ll dig them up again.”

4).  Sidney Alexander. “Marc Chagall.” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978

5).  La Ruche Art Contemporary Consortium:




December 1, 2013   Comments Off on Two Masters: Tagliarino & Chagall

Gabriel Navar/Art-Interview




The Obsessions

of Gabriel Navar

Interview with the artist

by Mike Foldes

Q) Gabe, we first met a little more than a year ago at the closing party of the We Are You Project art exhibit at Kenkeleba on the Lower East Side of New York. You and your mentor, Mel Ramos, both have pieces in that traveling exhibit. How did you happen to get connected with WAYP?

A) We became involved because I responded to an exhibition (We Are You Project)  opportunity that sounded intriguing….  I sent an image and corresponded with the exhibition members, mainly Dr. José Rodeiro; he was (and is) very gracious and accommodating!

Q) Can you tell us a little about your background, where you grew up and went to school?

A) I grew up, primarily, in California; but more specifically, in Oakland, CA. I went to school at St. Elizabeth Elementary and High School. Then, I attended Encinal High School  (as a Junior and Senior) before attending College of Alameda (CA), where I earned an A.A. Degree in Social Sciences (1990), California University State University, East Bay (Hayward) (1992); and, finally, San Jose State University (MFA, 1997)


Gabriel Navar V9N6

Interview and gallery V9N6 2013


Q) Were your parents artists? Who encouraged you to pursue art as a livelihood? Couldn’t you have picked a more difficult career path?

A) No… My parents were not artists…. not sure how I became interested in art… must have been the local Catholic church, tv (cartoons, mainly) and/or the graffiti street walls… I remember enjoying crayons, “finger” paints, and spray-paint cans as a young(er) person.

Q) For the past year or so, at least, you’ve been generating a compendium of images featuring smart phones.  For awhile, I thought you were too much engaged with that core, but then I realized everywhere I walk, in New York, in Binghamton, Washington…. everyone is carrying on a romance with his or her phone. It’s frightening. Yet, your paintings go beyond just the image of a person with a phone to mix classical poses and pop articles, all representative of a special time, a peculiar renaissance of the 21st Century. How did you happen to become so obsessed? Did you have a series in mind at the beginning

A) Great observation…. I am not so sure that I am obsessed as much as what may be observed (in terms of obsessions… better stated as “addictions” to texting, facebooking, tweeting, blogging, and so on)… My paintings are,  more than anything, observations (even while observing my own obsessive “addictions”)… therefore, my work reflects not necessarily critiques, but, more specifically, observations and, in most cases, celebrations, critiques and  disappointments. By the way, I rarely think about a series in the beginning… I simply go with the flow and try to observe a connection in what I have been working on after a while (that means, for me, after perhaps 3-5 paintings).

Q) What is your preferred medium? What is it about that medium that “says it” for you?

A) My preferred medium is acrylics and pencils…..  the main reason for my interest in acrylics is that they dry relatively quickly and I am able to work and layer quickly…. I don’t have too much of an attention span ( I often am ready to move on to other ideas), patience and allergy-intolerance for oils…  I often use oil paints mostly for finishing glazes and details (due to my allergic reactions to them).

Q) I understand you recently moved and that it was quite a stressful time. What’s it like working in the new studio, compared with the old one

A) Fortunately, my new studio is just about the same (actually a bit bigger in square footage) than my former studio; therefore, moving studios is a sort of “non-issue.”

Q) How much has your heritage influenced your life and work? Do you consider yourself American-Hispanic, Hispanic American, Hispanic or American? Or, “None of the above.

 A) First and foremost, I simply consider myself a “citizen of the earth” and, simply put,  an artist. Any “heritage” influence is, of course, absolutely welcome and I am extremely proud (because it is “in my blood,” so to speak). Regarding “labels” and stereotypes (or, tragically, pigeon-holing), I only consider myself a Hispanic-American or a Californian, or an American artist for “marketing” and exhibition purposes, because, for an artist, being part of a group (or “clique”) may at times be beneficial.

Q) You also write poetry. Do you find the motivation or inspiration to write or paint are much the same, or is it a different force that steers you in one direction or another

A) Painting and writing have been a part of what I do for many, many years. However, I have been more enamored with painterly materials – more so than pens/pencils have been for writing.



G Navar 2


Q) What advice would have to offer a younger person considering a career in the arts?

A) The main thing that I would offer anyone considering a career in the arts is to pursue the arts not necessarily as a career, but as a life decision where one must see art and culture as a passion to pursue wholeheartedly (for life… not as a vocation or as a career).

Q) If you had to “do it over again,” would you take the same path? If not, what would you have done, or do, differently? 

A) My immediate answer is, no regrets! My only “stumbling area” is that I wish I would not have purchased a house at the “wrong” time” (in 2005, before the housing “bubble burst”), and not have taken a full-time teaching job that same year in a town so far from my beloved SF/Bay Area.  In retrospect, I should have stayed in the vibrant, energizing, culturally-rich and diverse SF/Bay Area and not moved to the Central Coast. On the plus side, since the Central Coast is very mellow, I have been able to concentrate and focus on developing my artistic “voice” without too many distractions. I am, by the way, still “searching”…. (it’s part of the fun creative challenge that I live for as an artist).

Q) Anything we didn’t touch on you’d like to comment about? 

A) No… but, perhaps, I’d like to say that I absolutely love what I do as an image-maker (whether it is through painting or through words).

Thank you very much!


Artist’s note:

“Regarding my wife, Heidi Schmitt…. she has been in my life for many years and has been not only an inspiration but also a great supporter and ally… there is much that may be said here, but the main things I wish to state is that she has not only been a muse, model, photographer, but also a web-site guru and mastermind (for, as well as social media comrade (mainly for facebook, twitter, tumbler, twitter, pintrest and wordpress)…. Regarding my parents, well, they were always pleased as long as I “stayed out of trouble” and pursued my education…. no matter what the subject (they, once again, were not exposed to “art”). Regarding my writing, I’ve been doing it as long as my poainting (the late ’80’s)…. however, I have not had the same discipline for writing as I have had for drawing and painting. As far as teaching is concerned, it may be fun at times… I’ve been teaching since the Summer of 2000. ) I’ve been teaching at the College level courses that include Painting, Drawing, Art Appreciation/Survey, Mexican Art History, Design, Color Theory… teaching is inspiring for me because it is usually and often a stimulating and inspiring opportunity to not only learn something new (from history, current-events, students, etc.), but also an opportunity to engage with a handful of up-and-coming, moitivated individuals who are absolutely interested in pursuing art! This milieu is invigorating to me!”


sky’s streams

swim, swim open flow
wavy stream dizzy streak
wet, lazy lake throw
moon beam goose beak

gravy stream fashions crow, so sleek!
Pleiades-gleam, life-tree freak
crocodilian, red-eyed, red-lined escrow
moss-pebbled twigs, mud-creeked, gray-slicked
tumbled, liked, un-liked, poked, tweeted, pinned, googled, youtubed,
huddled-down, heavy rain, perpetual seeking,

yet unsought, fleeting thoughts,
but not lost, just unrest…
when lost, though, found,
then lost again

words are seedlings, forests over forests

a sea inside claws away
at the belly, the cheeks
tongue licks the eyes, wandering pink
swim stream dizzy, night’s thousand creeks

sky screams
blue then white then gold
swim swim, flow moon’s hold
sing, muse, sing love-long beams
string string along life-strong dreams

strong dreams…
app 4 better days

the dream I swim is a moonless
marmalade of purple hues,
a limp proxy for night,
shove down the cave-throat
of a day dried weary…

throw a color-bomb at me, yes !
directly at my rain-craved brain,
because these days have been khaki-washed,
graffiti-less and chewed,
not unlike decayed, carved pumpkins…
pale-orange, gray and dreary…

drenched and stormed under
a star-rise spell, twitter-ville
is streaming, spinning, new bull-shit
has gone viral,
shoved down the cyber-throat
of consciousness gone
humorously eerie…
© G. Navar 


About the interview:

This interview was conducted via e-mail in September and October 2013. Mike Foldes is founder and managing editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us”.



November 2, 2013   1 Comment

La Ruche’s Ponce Exhibition


The original LA RUCHE, Circa 1918


Past, Present, Pa’lante # 2

by Dr.  José Rodeiro, Art Editor 

Photo documentation and research by Christie Devereaux

As part of fall’s seasonal celebration of Hispanic Heritage,  El Museo de la Historia de Ponce (The Ponce Museum of History (“MoHP”), Ponce, Puerto Rico, will present  a groundbreaking trans-cultural art exhibition titled “Past, Present, Pa’lante # 2.” curated  by Robert Rosado, Director of La Ruche Art Contemporary Consortium (“LRACC”), Union City, New Jersey. The show features contemporary artists from New York City’s metropolitan area.  Selections address the exhibit’s main curatorial-theme: imagery influenced by art historical references to radical Postmodernist neoism, anachronism, eclecticism, mannerism and pastiche. 

The MoHP is housed within the famed Casa Salazar-Candal, an elegant 1911 neoclassical structure similar to the many 18th & 19th Century buildings that mark this  Caribbean port-city, called since Spanish colonial-times as La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South).

A Matrix of Beehives: the Early-20th Century Paris “La Ruche” & the Early-21st Century Union City “La Ruche:”

2405a1The “working-theme” of the show evolves from an art historical adage attributed to the Spanish “Father of Modern Art,” Pablo Picasso, asserting that, “Mediocre artists borrow, while great artists steal.”  Picasso’s maxim was originally avowed by T. S. Eliot in 1921,¹ when the poet wrote, “Immature artists (“poets”) imitate; mature artists (“poets”) steal.”¹ The bookends of matching quotes were recently rearticulated, in a razor-sharp assertion by the late Leo Steinberg, who declared, “All art is basically about art!”  The Ponce exhibit ingeniously links a plethora of early 20th Century “avant-garde” artistic allusions germinating from the original Paris “La Ruche,” a dilapidated “beehive-shaped” 3-story circular edifice on the Passage Dantzig, an Art Nouveau building designed by Gustave Eiffel. The area where it stood was considered in 1919 an outlying quasi-suburban neighborhood on the southwestern edge of Paris’s 15th arrondissement. There it was that, between 1908 when Fernand Léger first arrived until the tragic death of Modigliani in 1920, numerous revolutionary visual-artistic styles emanated from a stable of  luminaries, later to provide an aesthetic platform for the 21st Century La Ruche Art Contemporary Consortium.

Puerto Rican Metaphorical Realist Gerardo Castro perceives “Past, Present, Pa’lante” # 2 as a celebration of a coterie of artists who share collective experiences rooted in today’s Hispanic cultural boom, what Castro calls, “Echar pa’ lante,” a 100% commitment to success. For Castro, the Ponce show embodies authentic “mestizaje,’’ a multilayered, multifaceted cultural exploration. “This exhibition is about knowing our past, as a way to assure a better tomorrow.”

La Ruche’s “New” Aesthetic Vision & Benedetto Croce’s “Four Denials:”

The main thing that binds the original 20th Century La Ruche to the “new” 21st Century Beehive is Rosado’s bizarre amedeo_modiglianiinsistence that art should be a vehicle to express ‘Strong Feelings,’ ‘Love,’ and ‘Beauty.’  In the 21st Century, this peculiar aesthetic ideal is something refreshing, “new,” and in complete violation of Picasso notion that modernity is, “The aesthetic of ‘The Ugly.’”   Driving Rosado’s passionate need to reenergize 21st Century art is his tragic awareness that in the early 21st Century, politics, as a theme in art, has unfortunately become the tail that wags the dog.   Thus, in his attempt to separate art from politics per-se, Rosado unearths unlikely allies in the wise 19th Century aesthetic advocated by both Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. 

For example, Engels in his 1885 “Preface” to Marx’s “Poverty of Philosophy,” revealed a prophetic pro-art notion, averring that, “The first condition of all art criticism must be freedom from any form of bias.”   In 1913, in “The Breviary of Aesthetics,”  Benedetto Croce, the Italian Marxist aesthetician (extremely loyal to Marx’s and Engels’s non-dogmatic “art-for-arts-sake” approach ) attempted to define what ART is by carefully listing, (in what he called “The Four Denials”(5)), all the things that ART is not.  But, significantly, for Rosado, Croce concludes his well-developed argument  by offering a clear conclusion (or idea), which divulges the “true” essential nature of Art.

Finally, after stating clearly his “Four Denial,” Croce brilliantly arrives at the sublime realization that ART is innately and truly comprised of only two conjoined things: 1). TRUE Art is always “merely” or “only” a FICTION, a fabulation (an Amnesis fabulation²);  2). TRUE Art is always “merely” or “only” a unified intuitive vision that expresses feelings derived instantaneously as an un-pondered immediate aesthetic intuition, which is why the greatest art works of true artistic genius (i.e., Mozart, Raphael’s Transfiguration, Coleridge, Keats, Turner, Poe, Van Gogh, Pollock, etc.) pour forth in astonishing virtuosity.  Croce states that, “An intuitive vision is not known unless it is expressed.”  Ideally, Art serves a sacred obligation to express intuitive visions as fictional fabulations.  Thus, this type of rarified sublime aesthetic is visible throughout much of the work in the Ponce exhibit.

Rosado’s founding of the LRACC provides an amusing narrative, and peek into the mind of the Puerto Rican-American art impresario.  While watching Scottish writer/director, Mick Davis’s 2004 film Modigliani, there is a key moment, when Modigliani (Cuban actor Andy Garcia) is at La Ruche and Chaim Soutine begins firing his gun at Polish art dealer Léopold Zborowski, simply because the dealer had not sold a Soutine work in days.  Remarkably, this scene inspired Rosado to become an art agent: a Zborowskiesque-impresario.   It astounds me that a confrontational scene conveying a violent gun-toting altercation between an artist and a dealer would inspire someone to create an effervescent successful art institution that has lasted for over ten years. And, like the original Parisian La Ruche, LRACC is attracting many of the most important emerging “world-class” 21st Century Metropolitan-area visual artists, described below in alphabetical order.


The Art


Images for the Ponce exhibition piece by Jose Rodeiro for V9N5


The Artists:

José Acosta

Cuban-born José Acosta arrived in the US in 1969.  He is considered one of the world’s leading Neo-JoseAcosta-DancingNeoexpressionists, e.g., in 2010, he was inaugurated into the prestigious French Academy Arts-Sciences-Lettres, Paris, France, and received The 2011 Bronze Medal for Art. Due to his prominence in the art world, Acosta in 2012 was named U.S. delegate to the French Academy Arts-Sciences-Lettres.  His highly emotive art adorns the collections of Lancôme, The World Bank (Washington, DC), University of Pennsylvania, Touro College, The Rubin Museum, plus his brightly hued dramatic images have graced The International Caribbean Art Fair (NYC); Kenkeleba Gallery’s Wilmer Jennings Gallery. Acosta has participated in more than 400 group shows and 24 solo exhibitions.  In 2009, he was honored in New York City with the highly esteemed “Premio Arte” award.

Maria E. Aguiar

Chilean Nobel Laureate poet, Pablo Neruda once remarked in his Memoirs that the best art is often that deemed MariaAguiar6x4unprofessional, amateurish, and proletarian. An observant critic can detect authentic striving, noble aspirations and honest intent in such sincere, straightforward art.  This brilliant poetic insight is perceptively apropos regarding the charming images of Maria E. Aguiar.  For examples, in her image “Flowers,” the vibrant hues and the free-flowing composition depicts bright flowers as if seeing them for the first time.  The cool-hued whirlwind that Aguiar titles “Blue Swirl” hearkens back to the first completely abstract Modern works conceived in 1910 by Arthur Dove in New York, and later by Wasily Kandinsky in Munich in 1911.

Willie Baez

Puerto Rican American Willie Baez “always has a story to tell,” suggests Irish critic Tara Dervla, who associated him WillieBaez-GertrudisIIstylistically with the innovative African American painter Robert L. Thompson, and the great Uruguayan master Pedro Figari.     In his image “Gertrudis II,” he depicts a Puerto Rican doll reminiscent of Yoruba cloth-dolls, which are frequently employed throughout the Caribbean in sundry African customs and traditions.  As Baez explains, “Growing up, my mother kept a cloth-doll in our home for many years.  The doll was called la Madama, who was considered part of the family.  Hence, today, whenever I remember la Madama, it is like remembering my mother.” Baez’s “Sueño Caribeño” pertains to his father; who as a child grew up along the foothills of El Yunque in Puerto Rico.  The dream-like painting is a reverie about his father’s wooden zinc-roofed childhood-home that stood on a hill.  Baez confesses that, “These paintings are poignant memories that are perpetually within my heart.”Baez’s numerous exhibitions and a litshis plethora of collections are promulgated online at this URL: .

Walter Barco Bajaña

Legendary “Litopintor,”® Walter Barco is widely celebrated as a major figure in Ecuadorian contemporary art. Barco_Image_2 His extraordinary “rock-works” furnish nostalgic recollections of Guayaquils edifices, both its colonial architecture, as well as 19th Century home-construction, using an astonishing technique, which he has described as: la litopintura® (aka stone-painting).  Of interest to Barco is the fact several of the buildings’ walls consist of mud-and-straw (adobe) and then were traditionally painted white, or sometimes structures were made with wood and painted pastel-colors, i.e., pink, yellow, or blue — in addition, wooden balconies, porches, doors and windows were affixed to both types of buildings.  Each of these architectonic elements, Barco expressionistically paints on stones.  His iconology explores the sanctity of “home,” by emotively portraying houses (wherein “life” occurs).   His barmy shamanic aesthetic, employs durable, weighty, and rough stones for concurrent “3-D”/”2-D”/”4-D” expressionistic depictions of buildings.

His brimming global exhibition record is readily obtainable via this BLOG: .

Gerardo Castro

The brilliant Boricua painter, Gerardo Castro summed-up the iconology of “Reflejando mis Raices” as well as his other "Ricky Sings Babalu" Gerardo Castro 2007 14"x36"painting “Traigo” in this remarkable eloquent and cogent statement,  “These paintings are basically about humanity’s three races (Negroid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid) which intrinsically comprise the ethnic-spectrum of Puerto Rico’s vibrant culture.  Hence, being “Boricua” is not only about being Black; just because you happen to have darker skin …. instead, being a full-blooded authentic contemporary Boricua also epitomizes being Taino, African, and Spanish.”  Not since the Italian Renaissance genius Andrea Mantegna as well as the distinguished Bavarian Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer has a painter poured so much craft, stoic-emotion, and imagination into a linea-pastica masterpiece as does Castro.  His vast exhibition-resume is available online at this URL: .

Pablo Caviedes

The imagery of  Ecuadorian-American artist, Pablo Caviedes, evokes a universal visual-language, which is PabloCaviedes-Past,Present..simultaneously both comic and tragic.  Through his imaginative arrangements of “intangible-relationships between discordant elements,” he has developed a unique Postmodern style that critics dub, “Conceptual-Figurative Art.”   For example, in the painting titled “Past, Present, Pa’lante,” he metaphorically simulates prehistoric ancestors unflappably hunting an extinct skeletal antediluvian leviathan, stealthily stalking whatever marrow the bones might possibly still contain, while peripherally a Thomas Nast-esque “Democrat” interferes with this vitally urgent Darwinian Survival of the Fittest imperative.  Hence, this painting is a metaphor about the state of 21st Century Art, Politics, and Economics, reaffirming the sociological ideas imbedded in English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s A Defence of Poetry (1821).  For more on this key figure in La Ruche’s pantheon of “bees;” visit:

José Cruz

The shamanic Puerto Rican/Columbian creative-dynamo, José Cruz is an award winning artist.  His Ponce works JoseCruz-2include two animistic images of primal masks painted in a frank, edgy, and energetic Neo-Neoexpressionistic style that unabashedly feasts on vibrant hues, reminiscent of the Prussian genius Emil Nolde’s compelling series of colorful Mask-paintings (c. 1911).  Cruz is also a prolific photographer, doing everything from fashion-shoots to nature imagery.  His work is owned by prominent art collectors, i.e., Wendy Williams, Blair Underwood, Grace Jones, Tony Braxton, Paul Mooney, Fat Joe, Savion Glover, Foxy Brown, and other major public figures.  He has exhibited in numerous art shows throughout the US and abroad, i.e., recently in Humacao, Puerto Rico.

Christie Devereaux

Devereaux’s Turneresque abstract seascapes(6) are sublime explorations of refracted light, achieved by creating ChristineDevereaux-Argento24dramatic coppery as well as silvery surface-effects which permit light to sparkle, shift, and change as viewers walks past her paintings.  Seascapes provide perfect subject for showcasing her Neo-Romantic bent that poetically cultivates the dynamic interplay of natural elements, such as waves and clouds, which magically disappear and reappear depending on luminosity. Considered one of the USA’s most important contemporary women painters, her extensive resume is available at the following URL:  Importantly, for the 1st Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, she is illustrating Michael Foldes’s The Sandy Poems, an inspiring collaborative “artists book” destined to support ongoing NY/NJ relief-efforts.

Susana Falconi

Born in Quito, Ecuador into a home wherein her father painted, which instilled a love of art from day-one; as she SusanaFalconicandidly reveals, “My father was a realistic painter. When he, for any reason, left his studio, I took full-advantage of the moment to discreetly place a few of my brushstrokes on his beautiful paintings — something that my beloved father never discovered.”    For awhile, she pursued a career in architecture and interior design, before focusing on painting.  In Quito, she attended two institutions of higher learning: Universidad Central del Ecuador, as well as the Instituto Tecnologico Equinoccial.  In 2004, she arrived in the US, studying at the Art Student League and at ParsonsSchool for Design.   She also attended Escuela de Artes Guerrero, Bogota, Colombia.  There is a philosophical side to her art, which she describes, “I see my life as a big canvas where I am painting every stage of my life . . . some parts are empty, some others are covered in black, but most of this canvas is filled with bright colors.”  An award winning artist, armed with great skill as a hyperrealist-painter (a branch of 1970s Superrealism greatly admired by Salvador Dali, which he renamed: “Sharpe Sybaritic Realism”(7)); she has accrued an illustrious worldwide exhibition-career,(available in this URL): .

Alfredo Gomez Jr.

Alfredo Gomez Jr. is a virtuoso visual artist known for his realistic figurative imagery with allusions to Baroque AlfredoGomez-PEGANDO.malerisch (“painterly”) traditions, reminiscent of Spanish “Golden Age” masters, i.e., the Andalusian School as well as the “Italo-Valencian” style.  In the image titled “Pegando Pulso Puertorriqueno,” Gomez creates a captivating self-portrait, although in the manner of Philip Pearlstein, cutting-off key physiological features, e.g., in Pegando, Gomez eliminates most of his face.   The image depicts a young man rhythmically playing bongos. Gomez believes that, “By hiding my portrait; I am making what would have been a typical self-portrait into something that suggests a universal archetype.” In his “Recordando a Ismael Rivera,” he employs a masterful alla-prima grisaille painting technique, which is sensitively used to portray one of Puerto Rico’s historically important contributors to salsa music’s worldwide triumph, the great Ismael Rivera, aka “Maelo.”

Myrna E. Micheli

Salinas” and “Llegando a mi Tierra” are the two poetic Neo-Romantic atmospheric-paintings, created by Puerto MyrnaMicheli-SalinasRican-born artist Myrna E. Micheli.  “Salinas” derives from a childhood reverie, recalling her trips to visit her grandparents, who lived near “Las Salinas” within close proximity to an abandoned salt production factory.  Hence, the image’s red hues and warm-colors illustrate the region’s constant inundation by crimson saltwater surges.  Micheli’s art reflects an appreciation of nature’s greatness, especially in Puerto Rico, as she describes, “There is no better place to be, than back in my homeland.  When looking through the airplane window, seeing the Island of Puerto Rico approach, that experience inspired: “Llegando a mi Tierra.”  This blue image, which means “Arriving to My Home Land” connotes palpable allusions to Philip Guston’s early “Abstract Impressionist” works, such as, his sublime 1954 painting titled “Painting” in MoMA.

Jose Rodeiro

In Rodeiro’s Café Els Quatre Gats, Pablo Picasso’s youthful light-gray ghostlike frontal-shadow enters the door of IMG_2454_good_CATSthe famous Barcelona café, while four cats pose around a table, which contains assorted bottles, glasses, and a hammer. A beaded curtain leads to secret room wherein three unseen Catalan painters (Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, and Isidor Nonnell) are drinking absinth, hidden from view, waiting for Picasso to join them. However, what would occur if the setting of this painting miraculously shifted from Barcelona to Havana (La Habana, Cuba), the title would be renamed: Bodegon: Rum Bottles with Cats. The “new” Cuban version would replace the absinth bottles with two rum-bottles without depicting any iconic Coca-Cola coke-bottles; thereby converting the painting into a pun on the two key ingrediants needed for a “Cuba Libre” drink: “rum” and “Coca-Cola.” But, no coke is visible.  The hammer left on the table suggests a “workers’ bar;” however, this tool is also a pun on Cuban Communism, because there is a hammer without a sickle.  Cats are animals that cannot be easily controlled.  Cats are symbolic of freedom.  Also, five-toed cats and rum are two items closely identified with Ernest Hemingway, who was a close friend of Picasso, by which the above Spanish-version merges with “this” improvised, subterfuged, and surreptitious Cuban-version.   Or, the image could be a tribute to Hanover Merz-Art master Kurt Schwitters, who said, “I am a painter, who nails my pictures together . . .” Hermeneutically, all Art is open to perpetual and infinite interpretation(s), as demonstrated above.

Salvatore Tagliarino

One of New York’s most versatile artists is Salvatore Tagliarino, (painter, poet, producer, a free-lance set designer and SalvatoreTagliarino-Immense_2legendary teacher at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts). In 2005, he was honored with the highly esteemed “Premio Arte” award for his design-work with Wolfgang Wagner, Oliver Smith, and Josef Svoboda, Houston Grand Opera; Nevada Opera Association; New York Lyric Opera; Alvin Ailey’s tribute to Duke Ellington; Larry Richardson Dance Company; Rouben Terartunian’s productions for The New York City Ballet, and The Joffrey Ballet.  Plus, he designed productions for Lou Rawls, Natalie Cole, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Alan King, Ben Vereen, Helen Reddy’s Home Box Office specials; Denis Roussos (at the London Palladium); The Manhattan Theater Club; the Westbeth Theater; The New York Shakespeare Fesitval, and Public Broadcasting System’s “Dance in America.”  Currently, he sits on the Board of Governors of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (“The Emmy Awards”). For more on this creative dynamo, check: For Ponce, he offers two poetic works: “Immense Journey I” and “Immense Journey  2, featuring stunning fusions of suspended, drifting, and whimsical imagery, which glide against a painterly twinkling star-filled firmament through which float blown-down or  discarded leaves accompanied by tresses of white tasseled milkweed that wisp by, while disintegrating, floating-past, going out beyond infinity.  Each is reminiscent of Pantheistic and highly poetic visual masters, i.e., Morris Graves, Charles Burchfield, as well as poet, Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ.

Irelys Martinez Tejada 

The eclectic art works of Puerto Rican painter Martinez Tejada reveal a mastery of many mediums and styles.  Her work IrelyMartiniezconsistently offers intriguing narrative-content, as well as explorations into both Formalist and Informalist abstraction.   At 13 years of age, she began studying art within an art academy in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and some years later, she continued her artistic study at San German’s Interamerican University, as well as within the University of Puerto Rico (Mayaguez); and with sponsorship from the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture (San Juan), she studied at San Juan’s School of Bellas Artes.  Under the auspices of Hands Helping Hands Foundation, she , as well as Isabell Villacis, have been exhibiting for years, with LRACC and other professional venues. Her exhibiting career results from her friendship with fellow artist, Isabell Villacis, who was involved with Hands Helping Hands Foundation, and who consequently encouraged Martinez Tejada to also get involved with it.  In the Notes(8), citation # 8, below, she carefully explains what transpired in her life, here is a sample: “I got involved with Hands Helping Hands Foundation through Isabell Villacis, who was, during those days, looking for a place to both do and show her art.  Ms Lucy Santiago, the energetic and dedicated Founder and President of HHH Foundation, invited me to do a show with Isabell, whose art, by the way, is excellent! This exhibit went extremely well.  Isabell has cerebral palsy, while I have multiple sclerosis.”(8)    In the Notes, below, in footnote # 8, Martinez Tejada summarizes her intrepid creative life as an artist.(8)


The Ponce Museum of History, Calle Isabel #53, Ponce, P.R., 00730, running from Thursday November 7, 2013, to Saturday, November 30th, 2013, with an opening reception on Thursday, November 7, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. For information call: 1- 787 – 844-7042 or call La Ruche at: 201-281-2753.


About the author:

Dr. José Rodeiro, Art Editor. Rodeiro is a Visual Artist Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and professor of Art History at New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey. You can read more about him in “About Us.”



  1. Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry & Criticism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1921.  Also, in an identical light, Eliot is known to have remarked in conversation in London in 1964 with the young Bolivian poet-theorist and future founder of Amnesis Art, Dr. Nicomedes Suárez Araúz,² during Suárez’s student-days at Exeter,  that,  “The mediocre poet paraphrases, while the great poet plagiarizes!”.
  2. Suárez-Araúz, Nicomedes.  Amnesis Art, New York City: Lascaux Publishers, 1988.
  3. The stellar cohort of art historically famous artists who in the early 20th Century inhabited the original Paris  La Ruche (“The Beehive”) include: Amedeo Modigliani (Italian pioneer of Modern painting and sculpture), Guillaume Apollinaire (who was the Polish-Italian poet-theorist of Cubism and a close associate of Picasso), Alexander Archipenko (the well-known Ukrainian Cubist sculptor), Constantine Brancusi (a Rumanian sculptor, who revolutionized 20th Century sculpture),  Blaise Cendrars (a Swiss pioneer of modern poetry),  Marc Chagall (a brilliant Russian 20th Century visual artistic genius), Robert Delaunay (the French founder of Orphism), Sonia Delaunay Terk (the French inventor of “push/pull”),  Nina Hamnett (a Welch painter), Max Jacob (the French poet side-kick of Picasso), Henri Laurens (the French Cubist visual artist), Fernand Léger (the French visual artistic genius, whose art influenced US Pop Art), Jacques Lipshitz (the Lithuanian 20th Century sculptural genius), Max Pechstein (the German Expressionist painter), Diego Rivera (the top Mexican artist of the 20th Century), Chaim Soutine (Belarusian Expressionist painter), and Ossip Zadkine (Belarusian Cubist visual artist), to name a few.
  4. The  term “pa’lante” is a term that is used repeatedly in Puerto Rico, affirming that “most” Boricuas are known for their  positive “can-do” attitude when faced with  any overwhelming challenge(s), no matter how daunting.   Once they commit to undertake it, no matter the size of a problem, most Boricuas will figure-out a resourceful way to complete “any” insurmountable task.   For example, Robert Rosado, since 2004 (when La Ruche began in Union City), has had scores of exhibitions throughout NYC’s metropolitan-area, as well as mounting two major international traveling art shows to Puerto Rico.  Lexicographically, the iconology of the show’s title hinges on the Castilian vernacular term “Pa’lante” meaning “to move forward” or “press ahead.”  “Pa’lante” is an abbreviated contraction of a formal Castilian term “para adelante,” which means “from now on,”  “from now onward,” “from this moment on.”  Both versions of the same terms imply, as well,  “to move forward” or “press ahead,” or in military parlance, to “charge!,’ “attack!”.
  5. Croce proved that ART is not an artifact, because it is never merely a material-physical thing in and of itself;  thereby, he removes Duchamp’s readymades and Terence Koh’s “Poop Art,” as well as several major conceptualist methodologies that require documentation or evidence, and Minimalists, who turn their entire art work into a reductivist object.   Also, at risk of being expelled from the realm of Art would be much, if not most, of Pop Art.  Then, secondly, Croce proved that mere pleasure, delectation, Epicureanism, pornography, entertainment, relaxation, and other delights are beyond the scope of real ART, because art has nothing to do with “good taste” or “bad taste.”  Ultimately, for Croce, Art exists beyond the purview of prurient delectation, thereby attacking such alleged artists as Alberto Vargas, Walt Disney, Balthus, John Kacere, Philip Pearlstein, etc., etcetera.  Thirdly, Croce proves that art has nothing to do with any “relevant” social issues, because “true” Art (as Marx and Engels argued) exists free of politics, economics, religion, as well as any “moral” or “ethical” question.  Since, as Croce proves, Art is not propaganda of any kind!   Thus, Art should never be censored (as Plato foolishly and ridiculously demanded in The Republic) because ART does not stand “on” or “upon” any MORAL or ETHICAL ground!!  This third denial removes Picasso’s Guernica, and all the Mexican Muralists, and Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Ben Shahn from any proximity to true ART!! Nor is Aristotle’s Theory of Catharsis valid, because Arts’ duty is not to purge society of ills.  Croce argues that art should be created ideally outside of (or free) of political dogma, sociological manipulation, or propaganda.  Lastly, as the fourth denial, Croce proves that ART is never Conceptual!   ART is not any form of conceptual knowledge, because TRUE Art exist outside of Science (Physics), History, Metaphysics, Theology, Sociology, or any other discipline.  Nor, does ART have any conceptual or non-conceptual “real” relationship with REALITY, because Art is completely above (or possibly “completely” below) Reality!  These radical ideas can be traced back to David Hume, the Earl of Shaftsbury, Plotinus of Egypt, and other heroes, like Rosado who dared to value ART on its TRUE-terms.Finally, after stating clearly his “Four Denial,” Croce brilliantly arrives at the sublime realization that ART is innately and truly comprised of only two conjoined things: 1). TRUE Art is always “merely” or “only” a FICTION, a fabulation (an Amnesis fabulation²);  2). TRUE Art is always “merely” or “only” a unified intuitive vision that expresses feelings derived instantaneously as un-pondered immediate aesthetic intuitions, which is why the greatest art works of true artistic genius (i.e., Mozart, Raphael’s Transfiguration, Coleridge, Keats, Turner, Poe, Van Gogh, Pollock, Rothko, etc.) pour-forth in astonishing virtuosity.  Croce states that, “An intuitive vision is not known unless it is expressed.” 
  6. Dr. José  Rodeiro’s art historical critique of Devereaux:

7).  …… Chase, Linda, & Dali, Salvador, Hyperrealism, New York: Rizzoli, 1973.

8).         Irelys Martinez Tejada provides a summary of her life as an artist living with multiple sclerosis:

“Until 1997, I was doing almost nothing with my talent.  Suddenly, I found myself paralyzed from my neck down, and I underwent an emergency spinal cord surgery.   I was terrified, because my injury was damaging my spinal cord; and, there were no guaranties that I was going to be able to move again – even after the surgery.  At the end, a miracle happened; I was totally recovered for a brief while.  But, shortly after the miracle, some symptoms resurfaced and the illness came back, and the medical-diagnosis did not offer any good news.  I have Multiple Sclerosis.  Once I researched and knew about it, I started to understand what had happened to me.  Since I was 21 years old; I continued with my life; my kids were still small, and I guess, I did not have time to worry, because I was so busy with my kids, my illness was easier to manage, because I was too busy to focus on it.  And, thus, this was no time to give up hope!   So, I firmly decided that this was THE time to do what I had avoided doing for years: paint!!   And, I haven’t stop painting since then.   In fact, I’m preparing an illustrated series of booklets; where I will use my self portrait (a cartoon) to show the situations, which we all go through as part of living with this devastating disease — but, also showing the humor, as well.   The first booklets in this series will be available to the general public for free, and in various languages, this exciting project will start to appear sometime next year.






November 2, 2013   1 Comment

Monet’s Bronx Gardens



Sacha Webley photos 

Monet’s Bronx Garden

by Dr. José Rodeiro

Photographed by Sacha Webley and Christie Devereaux

“Nature is a haunted house – but Art– is a house that tries to be haunted.”

 — Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) Complete Poems, 1924.

In the Bronx, New York City, from May 19 through October 21, something spectacular transpired within The New York Botanical Garden’s impressive Beaux Arts edifice known as The Enid A. Haupt Conservancy. Throughout summer and fall of 2012, there ensued  an ambitious and alluring exhibition of flora, art, photography, goldfish, dragonflies and other things associated with Claude Monet’s garden and pond at Giverny, near Vernon, Normandy, France. This included an array of bright European wild flowers, as well as an astounding assortment of water-lilies, floating in concrete pools (among them were several debonair hydrophytes that resembled exactly the famed hybrid-nymphéas  populating Monet’s epic aquatic oil paintings initiated around 1900, which spawned “the Grand Décorations” of 1914-1926).  Also on view were faux bottle-green replicas of Arts and Craft items, i.e., garden benches, an ersatz Japanese bridge, delicate vine-trestles and other key artifacts identified with Monet’s home, garden, and pond at Giverny, where the Impressionist master lived from 1883 until 1926.

Furthermore, beyond the above-listed Haupt Conservancy items, two Monet oil-paintings (originally painted in plein air at Giverny) were also on view within The NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library’s Rondina Gallery: The Irises, from a private Swiss collection (a work not previously shown in the U.S.), as well as The Artist’s Garden at Giverny lent by Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT).  Surrounding the paintings, an assortment of old black-&-white photographs afforded views of Giverny in its heyday (featuring Monet alone or with family, friends, or visitors).  In addition, the display included the master’s wooden palette covered with dried oil pigment (lent by Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France).  The Mertz Library’s exhibition included signed documents (letters, receipts, etc.) and other personal objects belonging to the master.

The entire NYBG “Monet’s Garden” show benefited from the curatorial expertise of the celebrated Monet scholar: Dr. Paul Hayes Tucker (University of Massachusetts, Boston), as well as from NYBG’s visionary CEO and President, Mr. Gregory Long, who encouraged this outstanding, all-encompassing exhibit incorporating natural science(s), visual art, poetry, music and nature.  In this light, an ancillary feature of the show adorned the Mertz Library’s Ross Gallery, where California photographer and horticulturist Elizabeth Murray exhibited her “photo-paintings”  luminously documenting the actual Giverny – via large-scale bright and colorful (hue-intense) scenes, as well as enlarged-shots of vibrant blooming blossoms.  Her “photo-painting” technique generates high-key digital images that are somewhat reminiscent of the 1970s paintings of Brooklyn photorealist Joseph Raffael, who also currently works in France.  For over 20 years, the botanist/artist/photographer Murray has demonstrated her commitment to Giverny, by diligently photo-documenting it, assisting as a gardener, and by giving her unswerving love, attention, and support to the place.

[However, in terms of art history, one very important point needs to be clarified in order to assuage confusion among Ragazine readers: please note that she is not the late-Elizabeth Murray, who died tragically at the age of 66 from lung-cancer in 2007, succumbing a few months after her sensational 2006 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art (NYC), which featured her heroic huge paradoxical “2-D/3-D” Kandinsky-esque/Miro-esque organic-abstract enigmatic images on canvas stretched taut across irregular-shaped (well-carpentered) thick wooden-frames.  Coincidentally, lung cancer also claimed Monet in 1926. ]

©2012 Sacha Webley 

Sacha Webley’s digital photograph in situ of Elizabeth Murray’s “Giverny”

©2012 Sacha Webley

 “The White Water Lily” digital photo 

The all-embracing multidisciplinary “totalist” curatorial approach of The New York Botanical Garden’s Monet exhibit is innovative, refreshing, and  instantly apparent. Numerous musical concerts as well as occasional piped-in compositions softly wafted through the Haupt Conservancy, featuring works by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and other French composers who are closely associated with French Impressionism.  These pleasant audible resonances trailed visitors as they leisurely peregrinated, inspecting clusters of burgeoning plants that congregated along the Conservancy’s labyrinthine footpaths.   Vegetation exposed to these melodic sounds thrived – apparently, on “some level,” flora can synesthetically sense music (or sound), as Dorothy Retallack claimed in her 1973 book, The Sound of Music and Plants.

Moreover, adding to the exhibit’s multidisciplinary character were examples of 19th Century fin de siècle poetry that graced the Conservancy’s adjoining al fresco gardens, where  dozens of eye-catching panels (set at specific intervals) proclaimed verses by Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, and other French literary lights of The Belle Époque.  The NYBG’s insertion of superb French poems as an essential element of the exhibit is significant for the following reason: today, most fields-of-study in the USA rashly reject “true” interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approaches, preferring to isolate each discipline by means of excessive over-emphasis on specialization.  This over concern for one discipline fosters estrangement between disciplines, eventually affording little contact with other disciplines. This tragic state-of-affairs is particularly true in the contemporary art scene where pitifully little contact currently exists between diverse art forms.  Thus, as an antidote to today’s nearsighted over-specialization, The NYBG’s inclusion of “authentic” concomitant poetry (from Monet’s era) added an extra spark to the show, revealing a living anthology of “Monet-related” poems, which were carefully identified  and organized by Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America (NYC, NY), who really hit a home-run with Stéphane Mallarmé’s sumptuous poem “The White Water Lily” (“Le Nénuphar Blanc”),  beautifully translated by Henry Weinfield (Collected Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé, University of California Press, 1994).  Importantly, The NYBG’s official URL for the show makes both Weinfield’s  English-version and the original French text available online: (

The essential element of the NYBG’s Monet’s Garden exhibit is that it vividly evokes in visitors a sincere longing for the “real” Giverny, where from 1883-1926, Monet fully realized and actualized his inherent (innate) interdisciplinary and multifaceted nature.  Consequently, in this “many-sided,” dazzling, fully-integrated light, everything at the “real” Giverny “was/is” carefully calculated and designed by Monet to arouse wonder, visual pleasure, and sublime contemplation.  Everything ‘was/is’ meant to “WOW” – from the enormous The Water lilies pictures painted at Giverny after 1914, (which are currently on display at The Musée de lOrangerie, inhabiting two oval-shaped galleries, within the Gardens of The Tuileries (Paris), or permanently on display in The MoMa (NYC), to the bottle-green architectonic details evident throughout his garden. Those unique touches also are apparent in and around Monet’s house (including examples of his flair for interior-design, i.e., the stunning canary yellow dining-room).

The awe-inspiring botanical achievements at Giverny are remarkable, disclosing an astounding capacity for intricate horticultural choices, revealing a vast knowledge of plants, a daring “green-thumb,” along with an intrinsic understanding of climate, weather, and seasons.  During his Giverny years, Monet continued endless  “scientific/artistic” painterly experiments with light and color, as well as greatly enhancing his vibrant and astonishing artistic abilities by gallantly pushing his Impressionist style to new heights via robust sculptural (“3-D”), coated, and daubed applications of paint created within a “studio.”

Also relevant to his interdisciplinary and multifaceted nature was the scope of his wide-ranging friendships with major leaders from various disciplines who visited him at Giverny, including Georges Clemenceau, Auguste Rodin, Gustave Geffroy, Octave Mirbeau, as well as other giants in their respective fields.  Of course, a host of painters stopped by, as well, including Paul Cezanne, Mary Cassatt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Henri Matisse, John Singer Sargent, Theodore Robinson and many others, including Theodore Earl Butler (who was the first husband (in 1892) of Monet’s stepdaughter Suzanne). Ultimately, his interdisciplinary nature was best summed-up when he jokingly quipped, ”I am only good at two things, and those are: gardening and painting.”

Monet with painter Blanche Hoschede-Monet, Alice Hoschede-Monet and Georges Clemenceau 

Beyond Nature’s botanical masterpieces or Arts’ creative masterpieces, Giverny’s landscaping stands as a testament to the heroic struggle(s), exertion(s), and striving of Monet from 1883–1926.  In its evocation of Giverny, The NYBG exhibit affirms the enormity of Monet’s artistic and scientific triumph, which began in 1883 when in an escalating state of penury, Monet and his two young sons Jean and Michel (the offspring of his late-wife Camille, who died in 1879) departed Poissy (France) for Giverny – accompanied by his paramour Alice Hoschedé (whom Monet eventually married in 1892).  Accompanying the exodus from Poissey were her six children (fathered by her estranged and bankrupt husband Ernest Hoschedé), including: Blanche (the future painter, Monet’s student and celebrated studio assistant. Blanche helped Monet create The Water Lilies, and by 1914 became Monet’s primary caretaker after Alice’s death in 1911.  Blanche married Monet’s son Jean, who died in 1914); Germaine; Suzanne (whose second husband was Camille and Claude’s youngest son Michel); Marthe; Jean-Pierre and Jacques.

Monet on Japanese bridge at Giverny

Monet and his large “blended”  family arrived as renters at Giverny, finding an inexpensive remote lot with a large house straddling the banks of the Epte River; a tributary of the Seine.  Fortunately, by 1890, due to his growing international acclaim as a painter, Monet finally accrued enough money to buy Giverny.  Once in full possession, he commenced renovations to the house and property, enhancing the grounds with gardens and an artificial pond (fed by freshwater diverted illicitly from the Epte).   By 1894, a faux Japanese bridge spanned the mouth of the pond.  After 1898, Monet painted various images in oil of that bridge suspended over gliding water lilies.  By 1900, air-views of water lilies became a recurrent subject matter in his work; although earlier proto-versions of water lilies appeared (around 1897 – 1898) in a handful of paintings.  Most importantly, in a well-documented conversation with the journalist Maurice Guillemot of Le Figaro in 1897, Monet prophetically conjectured the concept of a room filled with uninterrupted panoramic air-views of water lilies, floating to the horizon, as though viewers were looking across a vast pond, while standing on its bank.

©2012 Sacha Webley

“Water Lilies,”  digital photo

 Collection of The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Claude Monet “Nympheas,” 1897.

As the 20th Century began, Monet pursued within his studio more images of contemplative aquatic pond-scenes populated by strewn water-lilies floating on reflective surfaces, mirroring shifting skies and nomadic clouds.  These subjects were often painted in layered impastos of tinted pigment in a soft, subtle, blurry, or vague manner, especially as Monet’s eyesight began faltering after 1907, impaired by thickening cataracts.  All the same, during these early  20th Century years, Monet’s financial success increased, permitting travel to England, Spain, (Venice) Italy and Southern France, but, always promptly returning to Giverny.  In 1911, his second wife Alice expired. This was followed closely by the unexpected death of his eldest son Jean in 1914 (at the age of forty-six).  The passing of Jean precipitated the return to Giverny of Monet’s beloved stepdaughter and daughter-in-law, Blanche Hoschede-Monet, a painter (trained by Monet from age 11).  Blanche became Monet’s devoted companion, caretaker, and studio-assistant.  George Clemenceau dubbed her “The Blue Angel,” because of the gentle and thoughtful (“celestial”) compassionate care, which she copiously furnished Monet, as well as the fact that Clemenceau admired her analogous juxtapositions of blues in her Monet-esque style paintings.

Collection The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Claude Monet’s “Suzanne Reading with Blanche Painting,” 1887. 

In 1893, Monet befriended the powerful French political leader Clemenceau (known affectionately as “The Tiger”), who was twice elected Prime Minister.  Clemenceau venerated Monet’s art, and encouraged the painter to pursue a bigger or grander vision for the water lilies theme, which he always described as “the Grand Décorations.”   As their friendship grew, Clemenceau purchased weekend property in a nearby town and often called on Monet usually on Sunday, en route back to Paris. During these visits, The Tiger reaffirmed the need for “the Grand Décorations.”    At the start of World War 1 (1914), Monet built an enormous studio near his home at Giverny in order to realize his earlier 1897 goal of uninterrupted “running” aquatic air-views painted upon a dozen mural-size horizontal canvases, depicting water lilies wafting on a tranquil pond conveying reflections of the sky and the clouds.  In this colossal undertaking, according to the Clemenceau book Claude Monet (1927), the young Blanche Hoschedé-Monet assisted the aging Monet as an effective and useful partner, doing some of the under-sufaces (gessoing, lending a hand with bottom layers, studio clean-up, moving and preparing items for work, etc.).  Hence, starting in 1916, Monet (with Blanche’s help) began work on the large Water Lilies, despite the fact that the cataclysm of World War 1 was in its second year, and the German Army’s frontline was only 40 miles away from his studio.

 Detail from “Water Lilies”

When the war ended in 1918, in order to commemorate the national armistice celebration, Clemenceau arranged for Monet to donate twelve Nymphéas (Water lilies) to The Musée de lOrangerie within the Gardens of The Tuileries, Paris. These massive twelve works were finished in 1926 [(the year of Monet’s death)].  Clemenceau viewed Monet’s Water Lilies as a symbol of Peace and as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of France in WWI, and used those patriotic arguments to gain political and economic support for the work and for the refurbishing of Musée de lOrangerie to accommodate Monet’s donation in two large oval galleries as a universal monument to both: lasting “PEACE,” as well as eternal peace.  During this optimistic post-war time, as a physician, Clemenceau provided medical advice, concerning Monet’s deteriorating eyesight.  By 1923, the painter was all but blind, relying on Blanche more and more.

Giverny in black and white

Clemenceau advised cataract surgery in one eye, which successfully restored Monet’s sight.   As 1926 commenced, Monet put finishing touches to “the Grand Décorations.” But by autumn, his spreading lung cancer made working unfeasible, and he passed away at Giverny at  the age of 86 on December 5, 1926. Six months later, in 1927, the official grand opening of Monet’s The Water lilies took place at The Musée de lOrangerie within the Gardens of The Tuileries, Paris

Ultimately, it is because of the above-described glorious and monumental  (yet, enigmatic and ephemeral) achievement that the New York Botanical Garden presented Monet’s Garden, an exhibit that elicits well-deserved wonder, amazement and praise. Not since Henry Thoreau’s sojourn at Walden Pond (1845 – 1847) had an artist of comparable stature sought sublime enlightenment from a mere pond with as much bravado and determination as that shown by Monet, as he undertook his ambitious plan to create at Giverny a faux Japanese Buddhist Zen-pond for insightful, visual-artistic contemplation.  But, unlike Thoreau, with his propensity for tiny details and facts, Monet generated a myriad of interconnected cinematic oil-painted murals (on canvases  c. 200 cm x 600 cm). His subtle, vague depictions were influenced by varying skies reflecting from pond water flecked with floating nymphéas. These afforded the ‘gardener/painter’ occasions for thick, bright-hued, painterly swirls (chromatic “halos”) of symbolic, blurry generalities, wherein everything “was/is” reduced to soft and hazy pastel surface-effects that slowly clock the passage of time, thus adhering to Mallarmé’s injunction:  “Do not paint the thing, but rather .  .  .  the effect it produces.”



About the author:

Dr. José Rodeiro  is Art Editor, Ragazine.CC, and Coordinator, Art History, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ. The accompanying photographs were taken by  Sacha Webley and Christie Devereaux. You can read more about Rodeiro in “About Us,” and about Devereax at: .

October 1, 2012   Comments Off on Monet’s Bronx Gardens

Raul Villarreal/Artist Interview

Raul Villarreal at home, Foldes PhotoMike Foldes photo

Raul Villarreal at home. 


Cuban in America

 By Mike Foldes

Q) It has been a pleasure getting to know you through the We Are You Project and our introduction by Jose Rodeiro. The book you wrote with your father about growing up in and around the Hemingway household in Cuba, Hemingway’s Cuban Son, offers a unique perspective on the writer and his life, but more to the point, how your father’s and mother’s lives, and your family’s, were shaped by the relationship. How much of those times do you remember and how much of what you remember are your father’s or mother’s memories that they’ve shared with you?

A) Incredibly enough, I remember those days in late 1967 and 1968. I was three and four years old. My father would come home for lunch early in the afternoon and after lunch carry me on his shoulders for several blocks up to the Finca Vigía. I enjoyed that perspective of being on my father’s shoulders. He was not tall at just 5 ft 8 inches, but he was a strong man. My two older brothers would then join us after school. He allowed us to play and roam the Finca grounds freely but we were to be quiet whenever there were visitors and he had to give a tour. Then we watched as the visitors admiringly listened to his every word and how effortlessly the information flowed from his lips. My father relived every anecdote and detail that he told the visitors with great passion and they appreciated him for it.

At the Finca, I was always impressed with a bullfighter suit that was kept in a closet. My father would show it to me often. It had been Antonio Ordoñes’, who was a very famous bullfighter of the 1950s and one of the protagonists in Hemingway’s “A Dangerous Summer.” The Hemingway relationship with the Villarreals has really defined us as a family in the United States and in Cuba. We were very fortunate that Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife and widow was able to get my parents and the five children out of Cuba and into Madrid, Spain in 1972, and eventually the United States in 1974.

My family in Cuba still has visitors and journalists from all over the world visit and interview them. Several of my Hemingway scholar friends who have traveled to Cuba have visited my aunt’s house and met my father’s identical twin brother, who also knew Papa Hemingway. Though my father stopped giving interviews in Spain in 1973 and refused to speak to anyone about his 20 years next to Papa Hemingway, it was not until the spring of 1999, when a friend of mine told me that CBS Sunday Morning was interested in an interview with my father. By then we had started working on the book and my father agreed. He trusted my judgment and I have been his translator ever since.

Raul Villarreal in his studio, Foldes Photo

Raul Villarreal in his studio

We had a wonderful time in Cuba with CBS. They flew us to Havana for a week and Charles Osgood interviewed my father for four hours. They got along beautifully. Osgood was very interested in my father’s anecdotes and details about the house. He was a real gentleman and so was the rest of the CBS crew. “Papa’s Place” aired that June on CBS Sunday Morning with my father’s piece being the opening segment. I was given the opportunity to do the voiceover for my father. It was truly a wonderful experience.

Q) You have said you consider yourself Cuban, not Cuban American or American Cuban. Essentially, you are one of the exiles in the Cuban diaspora. What about your wife and children or the children of other exiles. How do you think they see themselves, and how should they (if “should” is the proper word to apply)?

A) I consider myself Cuban because I was born in Cuba and even though I left the island at a very young age, I feel that my roots will always be Cuban. I am very proud of my Taino, African and Spanish mix. I love my life in my adopted and beautiful country of the United States. I would consider myself a Cuban who enjoys being a world citizen.

I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many different countries and experienced diverse cultures. There is often something from those places that I try to adopt into my way of life. In doing so, I believe that the country, the essence and its people will stay with you always. I enjoy bringing back mementoes from my trips and having them all around the house in different niches, so when I walk by them, a memory would be triggered of the place and I can relive a certain moment.

My wife (Rita) and I have no children. She is Cuban also but arrived in the United States at six months. She considers herself American. Early on in our relationship, we made the choice not to have children. We were then studying a lot and started traveling. We do have many nieces and nephews from both sides born in the U.S. I know that they, my nieces and nephews, feel more American than anything else. They have a sense of where the family is from and speak Spanish (some better than others) and most enjoy the Cuban cuisine, and the Cuban family dynamic, which at times is funny, frantic and loud. Well, at least our family is.

Q)  You say in the book that your parents saw your creative side early on, and allowed it to develop independently of any other direction you might have taken in life. How did having that kind of freedom to pursue your dream differ from what you might have experienced had your family remained in Cuba? I know this is entirely hypothetical, but there are others in Cuba who were unable to leave, who would answer this question in a much different way.

A) Yes, I am very thankful to my parents for recognizing that I was an artist from an early age. I started to draw horses frantically at the age of three. Most of the time, I could be found under a table with pencil and paper at hand drawing a horse. My father’s younger brother Oscar is an artist. He would draw a horse for me and then asked me to copy it. I tried and tried to get as close to his as possible. I drew only horses until I was 10 years old. I love horses and still do to this day, however I have not painted or drawn a horse since 1986. They are too sacred for me at the moment.

I believe that my father’s friendship with Ernest Hemingway gave him a unique insight into an artist’s persona. My parents allowed me to grow as a person and as an artist simultaneously. They encouraged me. For my fifteenth birthday my parents bought me a drawing table. I sill have that table in my studio and it will be there until the day I die. I will forever be grateful to them for their support and understanding. I think that if we had stayed in Cuba, I would have still pursued the artist’s life. It has been my calling ever since I can remember. I really can’t see myself doing anything else.

Q) Do you anticipate with the changing times and relationship between Cuba and the U.S. that you would be able to go back and live a “normal life”, or is the “normal life,” as it were, here in the States?

A) I am always hopeful for a better relationship between the United States and Cuba. I still have lots of family in the island and wish that travel would be easier between the two countries. As far a “normal life” that is always up to the individual and how they want to live their life.  The situation in Cuba right now is not the same as in the U.S. and for that matter, many countries around the world do not have the same standard of living that the U.S. enjoys. There are a lot of things that need to change in Cuba. It will take years but the process has started and I hope that both countries will work with open minds to better their relationships. I have my life and career here in the United States. The U.S. is a great base to travel and explore the world.

Q) From your perspective, what will it take to bring the U.S. and Cuban experiments closer together?

A) From my perspective I think that perhaps more cultural and academic exchanges will help to forge a strong bridge between the two countries. I also believe that the younger generation (those born in the 1980s) from both sides is eager for this cultural bridge and change. With technology the world has become a smaller place and communication is faster than ever before. We live in an immediate society and in order to be a part of that society a country and a system must evolve. China is one of several examples of that change. The Chinese are welcoming and encouraging cultural exchanges. Their society had to evolve to something different in order to survive.

Q) Where did you attend university/study art? What instructor(s) do you remember most and why?

A) I received a BFA from Jersey City State College in Jersey City, New Jersey back in 1988, with a concentration in graphic design and illustration. After graduation I worked as a graphic designer in New York City for 15 years. I worked all for the same company right after college. The owner treated me well and I worked hard and eventually became the art director/office manager. I made really good money but always kept up with my fine art and exhibits.  The reality was that I had two professions which took a lot of time and effort but I did it because I loved it. The undergraduate professor who has had a significant impact in my life has been the internationally renowned artist, Ben Jones, who to this day is a very dear friend and I consider him my mentor. The other professor was Dorothy Dierks Hourihan. I consider her my guiding angel and Godmother. She has always been very supportive and a guiding light. I decided to go back to school for my MFA in 2003. Jersey City State College had become New Jersey City University. I had started teaching a graphic design course there and loved the experience.

Then the following semester I left my job in NYC and matriculated as a full-time graduate student. Ben Jones was still teaching and welcomed me with open arms. During the day I would teach a graphic design course, then, in the evening, switch hats and became a graduate student. It was during my graduate studies when I met Dr. José Rodeiro. I immediately liked him and knew that he would be a friend and great influence.


Raul Villarreal/Artist


Q) Who were your major historical art influences? What styles did you experiment with as you developed your own voice and vision?

A) During my undergraduate years, I looked at the work of several surrealists such as Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Dalí, and also several Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. I was fascinated by Renaissance drawing. At that time, I also looked at the work of Cuban artist Juan Gonzalez, and Puerto Rican artist Juan Sánchez. I liked what they were doing with issues of identity and displacement. As a graduate student, I studied the work of hundreds of artists. Dr. Rodeiro was and probably still is very demanding in his graduate art history courses. I was exposed to hundreds of artists from diverse disciplines and even more diverse backgrounds. In the latter part of my graduate studies I started to concentrate more on the philosophical and theoretical artistic approaches, and started to read Homi K. Bhaba’s postcolonial theories, as well as anthologies written and edited by Gerardo Mosquera, a Cuban curator and theorist.

The more I read about post-colonialism in the context of postmodernism, the more I became interested in issues of identity, multiculturalism and transculturalism. Having grown up in Cuba, I experienced multiculturalism and transculturalism at an early age. The issues of identity were a common everyday reality. At some point, I remembered my father telling me how Papa Hemingway would advise him that if he ever wanted to take up writing, he should write about experiences that he knew and actually lived. Hemingway said “because then the work will flow easier and be honest and true.”

I took the advice Hemingway passed on to my father and my graduate work became more personal and focused on my personal experiences as a Cuban, who left his homeland, lived in Madrid, Spain, and settled with his family in Union City, New Jersey in 1974. And since 1996 has enjoyed traveling and experiencing other countries around this wonderful world that according to Hemingway “… is worth fighting for.”

Q)  I understand the We Are You Project as an attempt to bring the Latino population in the U.S. more into the mainstream of American life, including giving them the recognition that comes with it.   That and immigration reform to change the defensive posture of non-Latino populations in the U.S. against losing their ability to marginalize what has been until recently the Latino minority. Would you say this is an accurate view? If not, why not?

A) The “We Are You Project International” is a project that hopes to present Latino life in the United States and the positive contributions Latinos have made and continue to make in the United States for centuries. The goal of the project is also to have lawmakers rethink immigration reform and the anti-Latino backlash currently being experienced in certain states across this great nation. There is an incredible phenomenon happening worldwide, which I call Reverse Colonization. As in the United States and throughout Europe, people from different countries are emigrating legally or illegally, crossing borders in search for a better way of life. Immigrants are leaving their countries, which were once colonized by force and at times denuded of their natural resources, and heading to the lands of their former colonizers. However, the We Are You Project International is more interested in a culturally positive statement by Latinos for Latinos, the United States and the rest of the world.

Q) What is your relationship now with the We Are You Project International

A) I am one of the sub-committee members, which are the core of the project, and also the Special Projects Coordinator. I was able to procure the first two exhibit for the We Are You Project International traveling exhibit, which first took place in this spring at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba in New York City. The second will take place during Hispanic Heritage month in The Arts Guild of New Jersey in Rahway.

Q) Do you see or anticipate a power struggle of sorts among the various Latino sub-cultures represented within the Latino population at large and the We Are You, to control the political, social and cultural direction of the movement? Or do you anticipate respect for and an attempt to preserve the distinct elements of the group?

A) That is a very good question and one that is difficult to respond to. From my experience, it has been difficult to get ALL Latinos to unite for a cause. However, the artist members of our group are hard working professional artists and a large percentage are university professors. I think that because of this, we should be able to accomplish numerous objectives. We have art on our side and art is a magnificent agent in bringing people together for a worthy cause.


Hemingway's Photo Collection


Q) I understand your family has quite a number of Hemingway artifacts, including photos, letters, and so on, that were secretly brought out of Cuba when you came over. What kinds of things are included in this collection and can you share any of these with us?

A) We have around 120 photographs of Ernest Hemingway with my father from the early 1940s up to the late 1950’s. There are some postcards as well from their trips to Spain and Italy, and some items of clothing such as a sweater and a beanie hat that Hemingway took with him on safari in 1953.

Q) What advice do you give your younger students when they come into your class as aspiring artists or even as ‘accidental tourists’?

A) I will try my best to follow the advice of my friend and mentor Ben Jones. I will tell my students to work hard and get their technique down but it is the idea, the concept that counts, and be true to your art, and to be honest and true. I believe that there is a place for everything and everyone in life. “Show up to your life and you will be successful.” That is somewhat of a Woody Allen quote.

Q) Is there anything you’d like to add for this interview that we may hot have touched upon?

A) You have asked very meaningful questions and I thank you for that. It has been a real pleasure. I would add that WE just have to live LIFE, and live it to the fullest, because OUR LIFE and the LOVE we know are the constants that will be truly ours from the time we are born and even after we die.


For more about Raul Villarreal, see:

This interview was conducted in person and by e-mail from April thru June 2012.

June 29, 2012   Comments Off on Raul Villarreal/Artist Interview

Christie Devereaux/Artist Interview

Stormy Weather 20, Acrylic on Canvas, 36'' X 48'', 2012

Fathoming “The Spirit of the Sea:”

an interview with Christie Devereaux

By Dr. José Rodeiro

Brooklyn native Christie Devereaux is a painter with a degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, who during that Pratt interval worked with acclaimed director Robert Wilson, as a modern dancer.  After Pratt, she continued her career as a dancer on tour with the Electric Circus.

In 1969, Devereaux moved to Italy, where she worked as an industrial designer and graphic artist.  In addition, she completed official church and state painting commissions, e.g., a portrait of Padre Pio for the Museum of Padre Pio, Pietrelcina, Italy.  In 1980, she returned to New York, exhibiting at Lever House, Broome Street Gallery, New World Art Center and The Chung-Cheng Art Gallery at St. John’sUniversity.

From 1991 to 2011, Ms. Devereaux worked with both teachers and students in the Freeport Public Schools, New York, where she designed educational murals and facilitated school-wide art projects that were supported by grants.  In 1999, Devereaux was awarded a museum fellowship from Long Island Educational Enterprise Zone where she collaborated on a curriculum-based project, working in conjunction with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  As the 21st Century unfurled, she unleashed a series of paintings and sculptures that were designed to engage the viewer in meditative self-reflection; contemplatively assailing her viewers with a host of secular, political, and spiritual perspectives.  Her current series titled “The Spirit of the Sea” (click here to read Review) offers passionate seascapes that reflect on her personal experience with the forces of nature.  This elegant and fluid exhibition is the result of the very talented TIC curator, Frank DeGregorie.   Recently, in Manhattan, at the home of the notable master-draughtsman Nikolai Buglaj (across from the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center), RAGAZINE’s roving Contributing Art Editor, Dr. José Rodeiro (Coordinator of Art History, New Jersey City University) caught up with Ms Devereaux, and the following insightful conversation ensued:


JR:    When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?

CD:  It wasn’t until my last year at Pratt Institute that I knew my major in Industrial Design was not going to be my lot or destiny.  After studying “I.D.” for four-years, I heard an inner voice, saying, “FINE ARTS!”   We all have an internal voice that guides and informs us about the many choices we make in life.  Finally, I decided to listen to that voice.

JR:    Why do you create art?

CD:   The passion to create art exists within me as a primal need to express my most inner thoughts about the world around me.

I have always been fascinated by the power of language.  For me, art is a universal language, such as music, dance, and math, with which I can explore and express an entire range of ideas and emotions.  Just consider that art has always been the first written language, which we have used to communicate our feelings and ideas.  Children first express themselves through drawings. Also, the first record of art as a language appeared as cave paintings in places, such as Altamira and Lascaux, and earlier.  Other spoken languages have become extinct, but visual art always manages (somehow) to survive over time.  I, too, have a longing to “communicate” my feelings and ideas over time.

With regards to artistic creation, personally, the actual creative process for me has to do with reflecting on an array of ideas, feelings, and issues that range from secular, religious to political.   I am always questioning and exploring those ideas.  My goal is to try on some level to provoke thought or emotions on the part of the viewer, so that they, too, start to reflect on their own perspectives about the various issues they face.

JR:    Where do you get your ideas for your subject matter?

CD:    Ideas come from numerous sources, such as witnessing something firsthand on the street, a conversation, nature, music or even just a few words read (a poem, etc.).   All of these things – that are seen, heard, felt, and experienced  have the potential to inspire creativity and art. 

JR:    Now let’s talk about your recent work  –  your seascapes in The Spirit of the Sea series.  I see that in the past your paintings addressed social and political themes.  Why have you chosen to paint majestic monochrome Neo-Romantic seascapes?

CD:  Throughout my life, I have always painted seascapes; usually, watercolors or oil paintings.  However, this new series of seascapes is different because my focus is tonal or grayish luminescence as a means of examining the effects of refracted shimmering light on human emotions.  I am using the seascape to explore how natural incandescent light encourages meditation and contemplation by means of imaginative-manipulation of light and shadow.

Another new component that I am introducing in this series:  in order to heighten the effects of light and also to create vibrant sensate-surfaces, which constantly change as a result of whatever existing environment surrounds the piece. I primarily use either silver or copper primed metallic surfaces to paint on.

I usually start with a small copper or silver sketch.  Often, I photograph a painting halfway through its completion; and then draw on the photograph to adjust the lighting and the composition.

JR:    Are there any specific challenges when working on metallic surfaces?

CD:   The challenge is always in how the light hits the painting in various environments.   For example, the same painting can look great in a semi-dark room and then look washed out in a well lit room.  When metal-surfaces are beneath the pigment, each painting has different lighting requirements.

JR:    How long does it take to complete a painting?   And, how do you know when it is finished? 

CD:    The length of time depends on the complexity of the painting.  Some small paintings can take longer than a large painting.   Once, the image is sufficiently apparent, I take each painting and place it in as many different  types of lighting situations as possible – in order to see if the composition is still interesting.  I also photograph the painting to distance myself from the actual image.  This process helps me to analyze the composition, revealing anything that is still needed or not.

JR:   I see allusions to Joseph Mallord William Turner.   Are you influenced by his work? If so how?

CD:    I was a teenager when I first saw Turner’s work.  His influence has been profound; because Turner’s paintings really connect to my personal childhood experiences at sea, when I went boating or sailing with my family as a kid.  It is Turner’s light that permeates my childhood memories.   Also, important to me is the fact that I have always seen a direct correlation between Turner’s Romantic sea-images and the Romantic sea poetry of Coleridge and Byron.

JR:   In the new series, I noticed that there is a great aesthetic range from realism to abstraction in your approach to painting your seascapes.  How do you explain that?   Is there a preference?

CD:   Creating challenges is a key component to my art.  By pushing things to the point of abstraction; I am testing and exploring my own limits.  In the future, I would like to continue in a more abstract direction – fully considering and fully animating the veneer, the texture, the light, and surface-façade of my sea-surfaces, dealing with each seascape abstractly as surface.   Again, the intention is to assist the viewer in finding her/his capacity to see the surface as a means for sublime contemplation – as Turner’s or Rothko’s surfaces elicit.

JR:    Thanks, you’ve given our readers plenty of perceptive insights into your work and your future artistic aspirations.

CD:    With gratitude.


For more on Christie Devereaux’s art visit:

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About the interviewer: 

Ragazine.CC’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey.  You can read more about him in “About Us.”


June 29, 2012   Comments Off on Christie Devereaux/Artist Interview

Christie Devereaux/Art

© 2012 Christie Devereaux

Stormy Weather 18 | Acrylic on canvas | 36″ x 24″ | 2012


Christie Devereaux’s Buoyant “New”

Sturm und Drang Seascapes:

“The Spirit of the Sea”

 By Dr. José Rodeiro

Art Editor

Pivotal to burgeoning 21st Century “Neo-neoromanticism” is Christie Devereaux’s summer 2012 display of mysterious and sublime monochromatic seascapes floating upon the walls of the distinguished Treasure Room Gallery (within The Interchurch Center (TIC)), 475 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY. The show is insightfully organized by TIC’s eminent curator, Frank DeGregorie, who sympathetically encouraged this art historically crucial “must-see” exhibit, which runs from June 25 through August 27; with an opening reception on Tuesday, June 26, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Entitled The Spirit of the Sea, her buoyant radical-postmodern paintings of aquatic scenes generate intense, reverential, and awe-inspiring feeling(s), brimming with visual-nourishment and spiritual epiphanies [(viewable Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the southwest corner of the historic and monumental edifice known as The Interchurch Center, facing Harlem’s Hudson River shoreline (at West 120th Street); a majestic late-Art Deco cultural institution built in 1958 by John D. Rockefeller II and supported by The Sealantic Fund)].

Argento 21 | Acrylic on Canvas | 48” X36” | 2011

Despite (or because of) her cutting-edge radical postmodernism, Devereaux’s luminous “tonal” seascapes imaginatively blend nascent early-Romantic Sturm und Drang artistic approaches. These aesthetic dichotomies were initially invoked by 18th Century German art theorist and poet Friedrich Von Schlegel as aesthetic dualities (or binaries) guiding the process of human creativity within the natural world via either 1). objective naturalism or 2). subjective naturalism. Both of these Sturm und Drang creative methods were brilliantly paraphrased (in English) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge within his Biographia Literaria, as two types of creative imagination: “Primary” and “Secondary.” Ingeniously, Devereaux’s marine imagery treads between both of these valid and substantial aesthetic positions, wherein “Primary Imagination” correspond to being faithful to physical phenomena; i.e., naturalistic representation, or empirical mimesis [(signifying sheer realistic artistic perception in art)], while “Secondary Imagination” signifies numinous, metaphysical, visionary, poetic and symbolic rearrangements, exaltations, as well as distortions of nature in art. Whereby either, the external transcendent spirit of nature: geist (the “Without”), or the innate imminent spirit of nature: duende (the “Within”), is expressed creatively via art [(What is Duende? )]. A creative inspiration motivating art, as Coleridge stated, which, “Makes the natural world appear supernatural.”

Similar to Coleridge, Lord Byron, J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Moran, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and other mystic Romantic poet/painter seascapists, Devereaux’s seafaring art evokes the same intimate, epic, moody and melancholic nautical-emotions that inhabit these above-named masters’ finest naval works. In fact, consistent with these great maritime masters, her oceanic scenes, as well as shoreline images, are predisposed toward abstraction, reminiscent of the organic abstraction evident in the Blaue Reiter works of Wassily Kandinsky or the late Surreal works of Joan Míro, as well as the sublime (“pure”) enigmatic abstract-abstraction found in late-works by Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt. For example, in several of her seascapes, we find identical moody, abstract, and heightened conceptual tendencies that are equally present (as open “arch-writing’ verbal abstractions) in Lord Byron’s“Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” when he hermeneutically conjures-up an iconological, vivid, and symbolic picture of the sea, conveying infinite and unbounded interpretation(s):

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean – roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin – his control
Stops with the shore; – upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, not does remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin’d, and unknown.

As in Byron’s above “Ocean – roll” poetic-vignette, Devereaux’s art connotes a sensation of motion (movement), rushing tides, churning whirlpools, rippling eddies, stirring currents, undulating waves or placid calm. In her work, the dynamic terpsichorean sea is surrounded by energetic streaming or swirling milieus either detained or activated by breezy clouds, spectacular light, ominous darkness or blustering wind. Her most poignant and astonishing quality is an inimitable penchant (or genius) for expressing cinematographic atmospheric and aquatic action(s), suggesting visible motion/movement. This masterful painterly allusion to cinematography (“motion-pictures”) evokes haunting post-war Hollywood films like the unforgettable Portrait of Jennie (directed by William Dieterle) with its striking hyper-romantic and dreamlike New England coastal scenes engendered by epic and dramatic gray atmospheric tonal-value paintings of sea-nocturnes. This subliminal and insightful awareness of cinema in Devereaux’s current marine paintings animate, with faint paroxysms, her sentient seascapes that courageously intermingle paradoxical “primary imagination” with “secondary imagination;” thus, diaphanously joining “sturm”with “drang” as reciprocal traces of Derridaean différance.


Christie Devereaux/Stormy Weather series


In lieu of titles, she numbers each seascape, thereby compelling viewers to enter each image directly (“visually”), as something on the whole abstract, or free from any ancillary “pictorial-narrative.”  Thus, her inherent abstraction presages ethereality, spirituality, and meditation, mapping a voyage toward greater contemplative awareness of all  unfathomable realms: “Within” and “Without.” As in contemporary tonal monochrome 2-D artworks by Vija Celmins, Hugo X. Bastidas, Mark Tansey and Nikolai Buglaj, luminosity plays a major role in her work, i.e., wherein light intricately bounces off each painting’s gray metallic surfaces, thereby, “making the natural world appear supernatural.” For instance, in Stormy Weather 18, which is part of her copper series; sunlight boldly emerges from behind the mountain, moving left-to-right with looming anticipation or foreboding. In another painting, Argento 21 (which means “silver” in Italian), conflicting waves of light clash against dim darkness encroaching, upon an intense and somber gray spirit of the sea, light and dark spar along the center of the image, providing a somewhat exigent emotive experience, as reflections in the water continue to darken – as if an unforeseen and menacing cloud were passing by.  In her work(s), the glimmering light of the deep ocean provides something shimmering, metallic, shiny, glittering and glassy; through which a Byronic mirror-like watery surface endows an identical feeling as that expressed (by Byron) in these below-stated Childe Harold lines:

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty’s form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless and sublime-
The image of eternity – the throne
Of the invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

             If the 21stCentury sparks a “Neo-neoromantic” revival reawakening the possibility of a “new” ardent emotive art capable of sublime and visionary neo-naturalism, future art historians will inevitably cite Devereaux’s summer 2012 The Spirit of the Sea series of monochromatic radical postmodern seascapes as one of the key catalysts fostering this paradigm shift away from incessant “Neo-neoDada; or ”post-Duchampesque/post-Maciunasean regurgitated anti-art; mindless Neo-conceptual art; inhumane biogenic art, as well as inhuman  hyper-technomania, and other lugubrious latent-20th Century inartistic ills still unfortunately plaguing contemporary art.


Christie Devereaux/ Argento series


As a viable antidote to the current (above-described) importunate art-malaise, Christie Devereaux’s work will be on display in the Treasure Room Gallery at the Interchurch Center, located at 475 Riverside Drive, from June 25 through August 27. In addition, please note that other examples of her work will be shown in Times Square on an enormous electronic billboard on June 18 as part of a VIP after party featuring Questlove of The Roots with Jimmy Fallon. Recently in spring (2012), thanks to the auspices of Jimmy Fallon, another Devereaux seascape graced a vast electronic billboard at Time Square (see Ragazine‘s News, Haps & Snaps).


For more on Christie Devereaux’s art visit: (

About the author: 
Ragazine’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University.  You can read more about him in “About Us.”


June 29, 2012   1 Comment