Friday, April 28, 2006


It is Friday and the weather right now on the beach is sunny and just ever so slightly cool. I’m going to focus on those things rather than the infuriating experience that I had about an hour ago with the idiots from Verizon Wireless. I am so close to closing my account with the stupid MF’s that I can hardly see straight. I will go into detail on this story perhaps later when it is less raw. In the mean time, Friday, sun, beach. Did I mention that George and I are off to Isla Mujeres, Mexico on Monday?

By the way, many thanks to my wonderful friend Lynn for emailing me this treasure…

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Do that again!

Here it is, late in the afternoon of April 27th already. I usually have what I consider to be a rather well adjusted internal alarm clock that helps me keep track of dates and time rather well. I haven’t been able to wear a watch successfully since my early 20’s. I have been through so many of them – and very nice ones too. They end up breaking in very unusual ways usually within a few weeks after I place it on my wrist. I have read information about the phenomena and have seen those afflicted by such activities referred to as “electric people”.

Perhaps I am one of these people. Light bulbs have been known to blow frequently when I touch them and computers unfortunately go a bit haywire sometimes when I am around them. It all seemed to start when I was about 20 years old for some reason. My first memorable awareness of it occurred during a visit with some family members in New England. There was a large and impressive aquarium in a nearby town that a group of us went to see one afternoon. One of the displays consisted of an electric eel tank.

In the tank there was some sort of transformer that the eels would often hit up against while swimming about the tank. There was a long row of lights on the outside of the tank that would light in accordance to the amount of energy that had been given off by the eel that had brushed against the transformer. It was a very visual way to sense the amount of power the eels held. Underneath that row of lights was a second row of light of equal length. There were also two pads where a person could lay their hands. Just like the eels, the lights would light in accordance to the person touching the pads. A sign on the tank stated that most people carried enough energy within them to light 3 or 4 of the lights. Of course, everyone in the group had to lay their hands on the pad, myself included. Most people were able to light 3 or 4 as the sign stated, but when it became my turn to place my hands on the pad, the entire string of lights lit up like a slot machine.

I was totally surprised by it, but not as much as the lady who was standing behind me who saw the whole thing and had let out a little scream/gasp sound. With a shocked look- and a very heavy Northern accent- she said to me, “Oh my God, how did you do that?” The truth was that I didn’t know and, frankly, I was just as shocked as she.
“Do it again!” she said. This time she made sure that the other members of her entourage were watching. I placed my hands on the pads and once again they whole string lit up. Little gasps and Oh my Gods filled the air. Some of them stared at me as if I were an embittered homecoming queen with a fresh bucket of pig’s blood running down my head and dress.

In any event, that was when I sensed that I had “energy” issues.
I’m not sure why I decided to post that bit of information about myself here today, but I’m just going to go with the flow of it. My horoscope as of late have all been mentioning periods of revaluation, intense creativity and clarity. What a combo eh?

Even though I am at the beach today, George and I had some of our favorite people over for dinner last night - Marnie, Jacquie and Janet. We had a great time, and I of course, took some artistically rendered shots to visually record it. I think I may do this for every dinner gathering that we hold for a while. I sense a series of works arising from it somehow…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Attack of the 50 Foot Jesus

It’s Tuesday, and I’m going to do something that I haven’t done in quite a while – post an image for self-portrait Tuesday. Here it goes.

This was taken a couple of days ago in the afternoon while the sun was warm and lazy in the afternoon sky and I was drifting in and out of a nap. Ahhh siesta. It's a lovely Spring Tuesday morning here in Collingswood. My friend Sharon, who was in the area for a bead show, visited for a couple of days over the weekend which I enjoyed very much, especially since the weather was so hit and miss. She and I dined in one of my favorite restaurants, the Tortilla Press. I had really talked up the place to Sharon and I am pleased to say that our dining experience more than lived up to my praise.

Now, thanks to my brother David for emailing me the following fantastic image..

Now, here is the story about his image, at least, as far as my involvement into it. A couple of weeks ago while I was in Nashville for my exhibit, I had dinner one evening with my brother and his family. We ate at a hip place called the “Family Wash” in east Nashville. While there, I had occasion to visit the washroom of the establishment. Hanging directly over the sink in the bathroom was the little gem from above. It appeared to be from the 60’s and was printed on heavy cardboard. It had been texturized to some degree to resemble brush strokes. I remember as a child there being a bucolic print of a gristmill hanging in our house printed in the same fashion as the U.N. Jesus. It must have been a popular process in the early 60’s. Come to think of it, it also hung in the bathroom.

Isn’t it deliciously crazy? It’s a painting of a giant Jesus knocking on the window of one of the office buildings of the United Nations building (click here for a larger version). Look how casually the people of the street go about their daily routine. While it is true that they may be unflappable New Yorkers, they act as if giant Jesus has no more rarity than a hot dog vendor. I can imagine them saying if asked about him, “Oh yeah, that guy, whatevvah.” and then with a quick turn of the head in G.J.’s direction, “Hey big guy, don’t forget about my lottery tickets!”

I also wonder whose office GJ is knocking on. Wouldn’t it be easier to simply go back to his normal man size and take the elevator? Imagine being in that office! I can only imagine that most people would scream and run like a little girl when visited by a giant anything at their office window 70 stories up. Of course, on the other hand, GJ has somewhat of an awkward look on his face, as if he has been lost in the city for a while and finally got up the nerve to ask directions. In that case, it would be much easier to knock on the window of the nearest skyscraper. “Excuse me good fellow. Could you please advise me as to how to locate Times Square? I’m running late for my New Yorker interview. By the way, for the glory of your immortal soul, put the pen back where you found it immediately.”

Now, in case you have ever wondered why this

goes snap, crackle, pop, click here for your answer... I also couldn't help but notice that the box above offers a free "snap, crackle, pop" computer microphone by mail. Frankly, I have had too many computer microphones that have made exactly that sound to want to mail in box tops for another.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

In Memoriam...

In Memoriam...
Alida Valli
1921 - 2006

It was with a heavy heart that I read about the passing of Italian actress Alida Valli this morning. This wonderfully talented actress was one of my personal favorites. My first cinematic encounter with her occurred when I first saw the Carol Reed’s classic noir film “The Third Man”. Orson Welles, who co-stared with her in that same film, called her “the sexiest thing you ever saw in your life”. While there is no denying her on screen sex appeal, her skill as an actress was amazing and the emotions that she could convey with her face alone – breathtaking. While most of my portraits are of unknowns, I sometimes make an exception for people that have touched me in some extraordinary way. Valli, as she often went by, was one of those people.

“The Third Man” is one of those films that everyone should see once in their lives. It is an amazing noir film that takes place in post war Europe. The character studies in this film are brilliant, and the cinematography outstanding. Here's to Alida Valli.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I am not over the hill...

0421061830.jpg, originally uploaded by sprouseart.

Ugh - I've been on the go for the last two days. So, after landing in Philly last Monday, then being back in NJ for a few days, then back at the beach for 1.5 days, I'm back in NJ again - for a few more days. Still trying to get the studio together. I've also been fighting the demons of an approaching birthday - my 41st. Gulp. I must repeat, over and over again, I am not over the hill, I am not over the hill, I am not over the hill...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


mewind2, originally uploaded by sprouseart.

This is actually a test post from, but if it works, I'll keep it. This is me trying to be contemplative by my stained glas window

Morning reflections - literally...

April 19, 2006. Another lovely spring day here in Collingswood. Let me just begin by saying how pleased I am to learn about the resignation of Scott McClellan and the whittling away of power for Karl Rove as he has now “given up his policy portfolio”. The sooner this country shakes them out of the delusional haze that they have been in when it comes to the Bush White House – the better. These incidents only strengthen my belief that the Bush admin is also starting to sense the uncomfortable angry stares and finger pointing from an ever increasingly aware and fed up American public.

Now, on to other things – the only problem being that I’m not really in the mood to write very much this morning. I have many good thoughts and an idea about some nifty entries in my mind, but somehow, my physical being, doesn’t want to partake. Perhaps it is because it is so completely lovely outside. I think a walk in the park would prove much more satisfactory.

However, just to have somewhat more of a complete post, I will post some new images that I was experimenting with late yesterday and this morning while bored. These are actually artistic digitally photographed self-portraits. I like the way they came out. Here are the first 3, the last one has just a touch of PG 13 nudity so I have placed a link to it for those whose curiosity get the better of them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Ballad of Lucky Joe...

It’s Tuesday, April 18, 2006 and I’m back home. I just want to start by saying how glad I am to be back home. I had a great time during my visit to Nashville, but I like the feel of my own bed. It’s a beautiful perfect spring day here – really absolutely lovely. The plane ride, though smooth, was still cramped and I was surrounded once again by hacking people. My wonderful friend Jackie picked me up from Philadelphia International and we headed straight to Collingswood where we met Janet at this great Italian restaurant Bistro Di Marino. This place has a great environment and equally wonderful food. I had the Chicken Saltimbocca. You can read a few reviews here.

One of the first things that I noticed when dropping off my bags before dining last night and over coffee this morning were how wonderfully the tulips that I planted last autumn had grown. They are truly spectacular. Here are some close ups of them…

Lovely. So, I’m sitting here at Grooveground Coffee in Collingswood

and I realize that it’s Self-Portrait Tuesday. I haven’t taken part in that in quite some time, but the mood struck, so here it is.

There I am in all of my unretouched gloriousness.

Now I must write about a wonderful surprise that I discovered this morning sitting quietly in my kitchen thanks to my wonderful and thoughtful partner George. First, let me introduce you to “Lucky Joe”.

I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned Joe or not in this blog, but just for clarification for this entry, I will introduce him anew. Joe is a bank. A coin bank made from glass that at one time in the 1930’s was purchased, full of mustard, by my grandmother, Lillian O’Brien, at the urgings of her daughter, my mother, Maureen O’Brien. Nash-Underwood produced “Lucky Joe” in 1938 and they were made to celebrate the boxer Joe Lewis who became the world heavyweight champion in 1937.

I have loved Lucky Joe since I was a small boy. I grew up thinking that there was some sort of magic in the jar. Who knows why little kids think these things – I just did. Maybe it was Joe’s face with his big knowing eyes and egnimatic smile. Perhaps it was the fact that it had been my mother’s when she was a little kid. When I was a small child myself, thinking about my parents as being that age seemed like something from another world. The fact that something as simple as a mustard jar had remained from that period fascinated me then. It still does.

Now that both of my parents are gone, I treasure the jar. I have had it for many years and I developed a little ritual that I have stuck with ever since Joe came into my possession. Every time I run across any coin older than 1950, which becomes more and more difficult as time goes by, I place it in Lucky Joe and make a little wish. Somehow, I like to think that the wish is heard by the combined spirits of my parents and helped along the way. I’m always very careful about what I wish for when I run across these coins, because I think that these coins are relatively rare to begin with and even more rare when they make an appearance in my pocket. Some of these coins have been traveling around the world for close to 90 years! As far as I am concerned, they will take a brief rest in their history in my jar until I pass it one to some lucky person one day – and their journey begins again. To me, it’s about as close to magic as one can get nowadays.

So, this morning, I’m stumbling through the kitchen bleary-eyed trying to make coffee and my attention is drawn to the little wooden bowl that George and I keep spare change in. There, sitting neatly atop the stack of various silver coins, is a little tarnished penny. I knew instantly that it was a wheat penny! These are my particular favorites to place in Lucky Joe. I picked it up and, blinking the sleep out of my eyes, examined it carefully. I saw that it was a 1919-S Lincoln wheat penny.

Once I saw the date I was amazed. This little coin has been traveling about for close to 90 years and here it was sitting on top of the spare change bowl. I immediately phoned George who is at our place at the beach and he told me that he had left it there for me. What a wonderful thing to do – one of the reasons that I love him so much. He said it just appeared in his pocket one afternoon. I carefully placed it in Lucky Joe and made a silent wish. I can only expect that it will come true – most wishes usually do in one way or the other. Sometimes, magic can just appear in your pocket when you need it the most.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Show and the brunch

Well, here it is – the day after Easter and the day of the end of my visit to Nashville. I will rate the trip as very enjoyable overall and I am glad that I came. The opening, which took place Saturday afternoon turned out to be a very enjoyable event. It is true that the overall turnout was affected by the fact that it was held the day before Easter, but there was still a large enough crowd to spark momentum in the exhibit. There was one high-end designer who went crazy over my work and practically assured me that his client in Colorado would be equally mad over it. He said that he had been searching for the perfect work of art to place in the client’s house and that he was sure that he had found it in my work. The staff seems to think that the show will do quite well for the rest of the run and I tend to agree. Here are some obligatory images from the show.

Here's lil' ole' me at the show

And here is my wonderful and lifelong friend Helen and I having a bit of fun at an intersection in Nashville waiting for the light to change, after the show...

I started off Easter Sunday with David, Carrie, and Heidi doing the fun search for the basket thing in the garden. We made jokes with Heidi about the bunny leaving something in the back and what not. It was fun and all tongue in cheek as she is 14 now and way pat the point of believing in the Easter Bunny. Her basket was filled with the things appropriate for a girl of her age and she got a kick out of it.

Even though the day began wonderfully weather-wise, by the end of the morning the skies had turned gray and gloomy. We all just sort of floated about the house and did our own thing. I had been invited to a brunch and my friend Mandy’s house, but for some reason, I just didn’t feel like going. After floating about the house however, which had started to become a bit depressing, I decided that I would go visit Mandy after all. I phoned her and she said that she would send someone to pick me up as I was nearby and that I didn’t have a car during my stay. Oddly enough, as soon as I had made the decision to attend, the weather broke and an absolutely glorious day formulated the rest of the afternoon.

Mandy and I have been friends for close to 20 years. She is one of my favorite people in the world

and I was very glad that I made the decision to go.

Here is Mandy and Kim in the background.

Here is Mandy again. I think at this point there had been Bloody Mary's a plenty and Mandy is quite sure that she has had a heavenly visitation of some sort.

Kim with ears...

John with ears...

Chris with colorful slinky. These work equally well with Easter or Pride Day..

Chris in reaction to Mandy's words o' wisdom...

The lovely and witty Charlene ( AKA Hotsy) and her partner Tim..

And the ever effervescent and lovely Angie

It was a lovely and festive event indeed. I laughed quite a bit - which, as anyone who knows me will tell, is one of my favorite things to do...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Belmondo a la Belcourt

It is a lovely Saturday morning here on April 15, 2006 in Nashville. Birds chirping, blue sky overhead, sun beaming across the lawn. I think this will be a good day for an art opening.

As I stated in my last post, after my brother and sister-in-law and niece returned from mass, we all went to catch the “neo-noir” French gangster flick Classe Tous Risque at the locally historic Belcourt Theatre.

This is a really wonderful theatre indeed. They feature art house type of films as well as live music, theatre and art exhibition. When we entered, we walked into the middle of an artists' reception for a group photography exhibit.

The theatre where we watched the film was very large and opulent. Everything was colored in that robust color of red that works so well in film theatres.

The film itself was a real treat. I happen to be a fan of French and Italian cinema from the 50’s and 60’s and this was a classic example of film from that genre. Some literature on the film describes it as “neo-realism meets film-noir”. I can see how that description can be accurate, but it really felt very existential in nature to me.

Here’s a verbatim description of the film from The Belcourt’s newsletter: “Two tough guys execute a broad daylight payroll heist on the streets of Milan. But, returning to France after holing up in Italy for nearly a decade, one of them realizes there’s a life beyond the milieu”.

That is really a very abbreviated description of the film, but it works. There are some wonderful characters in this film and they are all drenched in that hip, French cinema look and feel from the early 60’s and late 50’s. My favorite is Jean-Paul Belmondo. What an incredible face for film.

I’ve seen several of his films from this period ("À bout de souffle"- english translation "Breathless" was probably his most famous from that time) and he steals the scene every time the camera looks his way, at least in my opinion. Also, if you happen to see this film on a big screen, and it is touring the country now, you will be stunned by the cinematography – glorious shots of Nice, Paris, and the countryside. It made me want to trade my beetle in for a Vespa.