Saturday, January 30, 2010

Heatchcliff and Cathy

I'm snowed in and watching the end of "Wuthering Heights" on Turner Classic Movies staring Laurence Olivier & Merle Oberon from 1939. It's been several years since I've seen it.

While a fantastic film, I just can't get over how ultimately selfish Heathcliff and Cathy are regardless of their tragic love. They simply didn't seem to care who they took down with them . . .

Friday, January 29, 2010

Quake's toll on Haitian art, heritage and income -

Yet another chapter of the devastating loss in Haiti. . .

Quake's toll on Haitian art, heritage and income -

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Healing Thoughts. . .

I have been a fan of the amazing Phoebe Snow for so many years that I can't keep track. One of my favorite Snow tunes is "Harpo's Blues". It's all at once sexy, summery, sultry and sweet. It goes great with a glass of wine, a warm, July, Saturday afternoon, a front porch swing, and the soft scent of something distant and freshly bloomed being gently lifted by a languid breeze and landing like a mist across your face. . .

I was a bit taken aback when I learned from my friend Cyd that Phoebe had suffered a brain hemorrhage on Tuesday, January 19, and has since undergone life-saving emergency surgery. More here -

I intend to send healing thoughts her way and ask that you do the same as well.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Wanna Hold Your Hand. . .

I found it of interest on this Monday, January 25th, that it was on this day in 1964 that The Beatles got their first number one with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

And the rest, as they say, is history. . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sprouse and Fashion - a rebirth?

Some of you may remember the 1980's fashion superstar icon Stephen Sprouse. . .

What you may not know is that in the early 1990's I discovered - on a fluke - that he and I were distant cousins. Of course, we had never met (again - "distant" cousins) and no one, with the exceptions of friends and family members, was familiar with my work then.

In any case, I thought it was a nifty fact that there was a fellow artist (he was also a very successful painter) who had made a huge name for himself with clients and friends like Debbie Harry, Billy Idol, Andy Warhol and more, who also happened to have my same last name and, somewhere down the line, same ancestral roots.

Once I learned of the connection however, I oddly never really mentioned the fact very often. It just seemed like one of those items that was somewhat personal and fun to hold on to without much ado. Occasionally, as the gallery and my work became more well established in DC, I would get asked the question by knowing patrons, "Are you related to Stephen Sprouse?" I would answer truthfully with a "Yes. But we're distantly related and have never met". This inevitably would always be followed up with a "that's cool" moment and then a move on to some other topic.

I was fine with that for quite some time really. But then one day after the gallery had been around for several years and I was much more established I had a brainstorm - "Why don't I just contact him and offer him an exhibit? I mean, were both artists and we're cousins for God's sake. The worse that could happen would be that he would say no."

It was a nothing ventured nothing gained moment and I went for it.

Surprisingly, it didn't take long. Of course, this was pre-9/11 and perhaps people wouldn't be so willing to exchange information now, but basically, within an hour after making my decision and after making a few phone calls, I found myself leaving a voice mail on Stephen Sprouse's answering machine. Truth be told, to this day I can't remember how I got his number or who gave it to me. I think one call I made was to the Andy Warhol Institute, but it's hazy now.

It all seems very surreal now, but my message was short and sweet. I identified myself, mentioned that he and I were distant cousins, that I was also an artist who owned and curated a successful contemporary art gallery in Washington, DC , that I was interested in giving him an exhibit, left my contact information and then hung up the phone.

Two days later he called me back.

We had a very nice, though initially slightly awkward conversation. He was amazed that I was able to get his number so easily and he asked me how had I managed to do so. I explained my process and he laughed stating that I was either very lucky, very persistent, or both. I told him I was both. He told me that he had looked at the web site for the gallery and that he liked what he had seen. He also liked my work and he mentioned, after seeing my photo on my site, that he thought that he and I looked like we could be related. He was very relaxed and friendly sounding.

He told me that he was interested in an exhibit and asked me a few technical questions about the space and mentioned something about having to have his assistant begin some process of some sort. In any case, we had a total of about three phone conversations to discuss the potential exhibit, but the details remained vague and nothing came from it. After our last phone conversation, there were no more. At the time, I wasn't quite sure what the reason was as it seemed that all was going well. But, for some reason, my inner voice suggested that I not pursue it opting rather to wait and see if he would reinstate the idea.

I never heard from him again and simply continued on with my activities. It wasn't until about a year or two after our conversations that I learned that he had died of lung cancer - something that he had managed to keep well hidden from those in his circle. And truth be told, he may have been ill the entire time that he and I were conversing. I'll never know.

I felt a slight pain of loss after hearing the news. I can't say that I really knew or was close to him, after all, we had only shared a few phone conversations, but I had created this idea in my head because of our connection, that suddenly would no longer be accessible. It was as if a short term muse had appeared, burned brightly, and then vanished. A tether had been cut and what was released on the other end would never return again. . .

The only reason I recalled this story from close to 10 years ago now is that I ran across the following online once again after seeing it for the first time a few months ago while engaged in some research on links to my work. The connection between "fashion" and "Sprouse" and this time - my work - brought my little story of my brush with my famous and distant relative back to me.

I'm still not quite sure what is about, (they refer to themselves as the "web's largest fashion community") but I think, it's a site for budding fashion designers, art directors, or people enthralled with fashion in general.

Now, normally, I'm not too thrilled when people use my work willy-nilly without going through the proper channels (speaking as someone who has had my work appear without my permission on the side of florist delivery vans and in high-end style and interior design magazine advertisements promoting multi-million dollar condos also in NYC) but I liked this one.

It seems that Georgina has put together a complete outfit based upon the color scheme from a very popular painting of mine I created a few years back entitled "Memory". That painting, in and of itself, has a very interesting history to it, which I will post at some point in the future. . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tick, tick, tick. . .

"Cause To Fade"
acrylic and vintage mixed-media on canvas
12" x 24"

Happy Friday! This is just a reminder that there is still work available at dramatically low prices on my Year End Sprouseart FINE ART SALE page! Take the work above for example. When this sale ends at the end of the month - these works are returning to gallery prices. Tick, tick, tick. . .

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The politics of facebook. . . .

I learned of the results of the Massachusetts Senate race late last night before going to bed. The last thing I did before hitting the pillow was to glance at my facebook page. Already the posts had begun either damning the results or praising them.

It was then that I made an observation that was slightly epiphanous ; I had friends, some of whom I have known for years and for whom I care a great deal, that didn't vote like as I do! Of course, I say this with a humorous twist. I know that it is impossible to know and befriend as many people as I have over the years without accepting within them a wide range of differences from myself and each other. Frankly, I enjoy the diversity and would have it no other way.

Facebook presents the unique opportunity to see posts from friends chronologically as they appear one over the other. So even though I knew and appreciated the fact that not all of my friends share the same political viewpoint as me, I had never really seen it laid out before me almost spreadsheet style to appreciate on a larger scale. Before, I always accepted the fact of difference on an individual basis - my friend Joe thinks this way, my friend Jane thinks that way.

And this is where I had my slightly epiphanous moment - seeing the evidence laid out before me in my browser made me appreciate my friends even more. I felt some frosted part of my heart begin to melt where I had not noticed ice before. I understood that the aspects of these individuals that I cherished outweighed the differences between us. Of course, I have always known this, but seeing it in an environment weaved through my hundreds of facebook friends rewired my thinking a bit.

Now, make no mistake, I'm not planning on changing my views with a pollyannaish "maybe they're right and I'm wrong" notion (the majority of my facebook friends share my same or similar political ideals) and I am steadfastly confident with my choices. And even though one of the valuable lessons that I have learned over the years as I grow older is that I usually- not always mind you- but as a general rule, shy away from discussing issues of politics, religion and sexuality unless I am completely sure that the person I am speaking with is compatible with such (notice I did not say that they had to share my views - they need only to be open to a conversation without overreacting) , I feel more liberated and secure with my own choices because there is a flip side to the coin. If I have accepted that they don't share my views and am OK with that, then they have done the same for me.

Part of a facebook post from a wonderful childhood friend of mine regarding recent politics simply and elegantly read, "I didn't break it, I cannot fix it, I have to let it go." It seemed Zen its simplicity and clarity.

I'll let you figure out how she votes. . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Cézanne. . .

One of my favorite painters, Paul Cézanne, was born on this day in 1839.

The Drinker
Oil on canvas
18 x 14 3/4 in. (45.7 x 37.5 cm)
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania

Wikipedia states that Cézanne "laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cézanne "is the father of us all" cannot be easily dismissed."

Last Spring, thanks to my extraordinary friend Jacquie, I had the phenomenal experience of spending the Easter afternoon visiting the Barnes Foundation in Merion (a community contiguous to Philadelphia). The Barnes Foundation hosts the largest collection of impressionistic painting in the world worth an estimated 6 billion dollars including 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul Cézanne, and 59 by Henri Matisse, as well as numerous other masters, including George de Chirico, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, Amedeo Modigliani, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Maurice Utrillo, Vincent Van Gogh, Maurice Prendergast, and a variety of African and early American primitive artworks.

Truly, it was an amazing experience as it was my first visit there. I highly suggest that if the opportunity arises for you to visit this amazing collection in this breathtakingly beautiful house, that you do so - especially before the collection moves in 2012 to its new, and controversial, location. . .

Monday, January 18, 2010

A gleeful arts education?

After watching a rather forgettable Golden Globes presentation last night, I find myself stuck on a phrase mentioned by on of the producers of the program "Glee" (Best television series – comedy or musical - which I found a laughable decision I might add). While I can't remember the exact phrase, or the name of the fellow who said it, he in effect stated that he was thankful to be connected to a show that stressed "the importance of an arts education".

And that is what caused me to lift my gaze from my keyboard with an accompanying eyebrow raise and slight twist of the chin last night and what has sent me atop my digital soap box this Monday morning. . .

It's not that I have a problem with the importance of an arts education - not by any means. As a visual artist, I have always been keenly aware of that issue. I have also worked as an arts educator in the public school system and have very close friends who do the same - some of whom have won national recognition for such.

So - let me be the first to tell you in case you were unaware - "Glee" is about as close in its portrayal of "real life" high school as "Hogan's Heros" was to its portrayal of a German WWII prisoner of war camp.

(with thanks to slade1955)

Glee offers its interpretation of a present day high school via a collection of 20 something year old actors playing a group of 15 to 17 year olds who seem to spend the majority of their school day either practicing for the Glee Club, or in football practice, or cheerleading practice. During these practice sessions, they have the ability to sound vry similar to top-notch studio recording session artists or pop start sensations. When they actually perform, which is frequently, they reproduce the same sound - though even more polished - as well as a mix of wildly expensive costumes with stage production set pieces and lighting.

(above - actor Mark Salling - 27 in reality - portrays 17 year old Puck on Glee)

The entire cast - even the ones who are not supposed to be attractive - are extremely attractive. Though they do seem to have a nice mix of culturally and sexually diverse students (one student - Artie - who is portrayed as being wheelchair bound - is played by the non-disabled in reality, 21 year old Kevin McHale).

But before I am labeled a cynic by readers, I do understand that this is about "acting" and entertainment. I've been involved with theatre (both professionally and with community groups) for over 25 years.

My question is this - if producers of television programs can feel grateful for working on fantasy/artificial shows about promoting the arts in high school when accepting a Golden Globe award for doing such - wouldn't they feel even better if they helped to produce a "reality show" that actually documents the uphill battle that arts educators in this country have to face each time they step into a classroom?

Why not feature teachers struggling with and frustrated by dwindling school arts budgets and antiquated equipment rather than "make believe" glee clubs where Broadway style sets, costumes, and backup musicians appear at the snap of a jazz hand gloved finger?

Also, why are the Visual Arts never made a focus of this popular entertainment? How about a dark comedy entitled "High School Art Honor Society" where young adults portraying minors whip out deftly painted masterpieces in in between make out sessions, eye makeup applications and and texting spasms?

I have to wonder if shows like Glee club may actually be doing damage to legitimate school arts based groups when potentially eager students show up at auditions with visions of sugarplums and recording contracts dancing through their heads. The sad reality of arts education in today's public school system is that it is still woefully underfunded and wildly under appreciated.

I don't think I have ever had a conversation with a public school based arts educator who has not had to purchase supplies for their class out of their own pockets. Recently, during a conversation at the school where I was teaching which had just been built at a cost of several million dollars with the visual arts instructor, I had mentioned how surprised I was too see how small and under-equpied that arts room was considering how grandiose other aspects of this shiny new building were.

With a knowing look and a weary eye, she quietly informed me that it was still a matter of funding and positioning on the totem pole of importance. I could do little at that point but shake my head as I looked around this small and under equipped space with the realization that it was hardly any different than the art class room that I studied in when I was in High School.

I graduated 27 years ago. . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

For some unknown reason, it has been quite some time since I last visited the web site for the Met. It was a wonderful experience. It's beautiful and classically designed. My appreciation for the exquisite aesthetic aside however, my favorite part is the searchable Collection Database. While they don't have every work from their collection of over 2 million online, they do have over 140,000. Once you pull the work up, you can zoom in into some surprisingly intense detail, plus they also document the work's provenance - which I've always found fascinating.

For example, you can learn that Pablo Picasso's "Girl Reading At A Table" (a 1934 portrait of his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter) was given by the artist to Peter Watson of London in 1939 - 1945/6). From there it appears in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel A. Marx, Chicago (1945/6 - 1964); then Mrs. Florene M. Schoenborn (widow of Samuel A. Marx), New York (1964 - 1996) and then to the Met.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Amazing Carole. . .

with thanks to flickr member John McNab

Today, on the 68th anniversary of her death, I have to wonder whether or not anyone under the age of 25 would even know who Carole Lombard was. A 33 year old superstar at the time of her death in a tragic airplane crash near Las Vegas (all on board, including her mother perished in the wreck), her beauty was legendary as her screen performances and her unpretentious off-screen personality, well known earthy sense of humor and blue language made her adored by any who worked with her.

Several years ago, I painted a small portrait of her of which I was very fond . . .

It was purchased by a now deceased friend. I believe he left it to someone I don't know in his will, so I have no idea where she may be now. Of course, art, like everything else, from beautiful actresses to tiny butterflies have a "shelf life". The beauty in that truism is that no really knows when that is. Educated guesses aside, all that remains after that awareness sets in is the simplistic joy of right now - and that is often what great art is all about.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Change Your Thinking. . .

I must admit that I'm not usually the type who gets drawn into those insipid and schmaltzy notations that circle around web. They're almost always poorly written musings about someone's bad luck, or amazing close brush with death, or miraculous cure and how that person had not done some little thing they either would have been spared the ugly situation that befell them.

I usually quietly and politely hit my delete button which take a nano-second. I realize that these emails are most often sent by some well-meaning friend or family member, and perhaps even due to the faint possibility in their mind that maybe there could be a voodoo curse after all for not sending the story.

In any case, I received one today that captured my attention. Even though it shares many characteristics with the cheesy emails mentioned above, this one had a bit of umph to it. I only say that because after reading it, I realized that the message of this story also make a great analogy of the creation of visual art. It's all about helping the world to see.

I'm posting it here. I did not email this on to 10 people as instructed. . .

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to
help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their
involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he
would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where
his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color
of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model
boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and
a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the
man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this
picturesque scene..

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his
mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only
to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died
peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be
moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and
after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first
look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate
who had described such wonderful things outside this window

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'

Thanks Syd for sharing ;)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart, originally uploaded by twm1340.

One of my favorite classic film actors and cultural icon was born on this day in 1899! I still consider "The Big Sleep" to be one of my favorite film noir works and quite possibly the best of it's genre.

He is responsible for some of the finest film performances of the 20th century and if you're somehow not familiar with his work, I strongly suggest that you do yourself a cultural favor and do so. . .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Death of Conceptual Art. . .

Loyal Victim, originally uploaded by iamsin.

Here's a well written article about "conceptual art" written by Victoria Skelly for the Broad Street Review. I happen to agree with her observations and I think she has done a fine job of addressing a somewhat controversial subject in the art world (at least in my opinion) without extremism. I hope that articles of this nature will embolden a potentially confused and befuddled art loving populace to embrace the option that at times it really is OK to simply state the fact that the emperor is indeed wearing no clothes. . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Chameleon, originally uploaded by cliftonsabroad.

I won't go into details, but last night I had an amazingly vivid dream in which a massive chameleon was in my kitchen. It must have been close to 5 feet in length. There was nothing fearful about the dream, but, nevertheless, it made an impact.

I found this online - "that To see a chameleon in your dream, represents your ability to adapt to any situation. You are versatile and are well-rounded."

Well, I am working on several new artistic adventures right now and have some rather big plans. I'll take this as a good omen.

Did I mention that it was huge?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Year End Art Sale Still Thrives. . .

While several of the works available on the amazing "Year End Sprouseart Fine Art Sale" have lovingly found their ways into new homes and collections, there are still many works available - at a fraction of the cost mind you - of what they had been when on display in traditional galleries and interior design boutiques.

Case in point, some of the works currently listed and available on my Y.E.S.F.A.S page had been previously available in the wonderful Philadelphia Home Art Garden interior design boutique which may still be seen on their website's Original Art page here: . You can actually see three of them on that page when you open it up in the browser. Two of those same works shown are now available on my Y.E.S.F.A.S for hundreds of dollars less than what they had been listed for previously.

Are these works still worth the higher prices? Absolutely! That's why if you take advantage of the sale now you can own an amazing work of original art by yours truly and you will have already made an investment by the time it arrives at your door since you will have purchased it for much less than it's current appraisal value!

This is a year end SALE and the nature of "sales" is that they are short lived, temporal things. When this sale is over at the end of the month, these works are going back up to their original prices. SO - act fast folks and don't miss this fantastic opportunity to own an original Sprouse at a very generous discount indeed!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Redesign - finally

I thought it best to wait for the smoke to clear after the holidays to enter my first post of the year. Inevitably, and understandably, there is always a traditional mad rush to the blogosphere at the beginning of each year with well intentioned bloggers posting variations on the same theme - resolutions, top 10 lists, how bad the year was, how great it was, best this and that of the year/decade - on and on.

I waited. It's probably akin to the reason that I don't engage in such holiday crowd madness like Black Friday shopping and the such. If I'm going to be in a crowd, I'd much rather it be connected to the arts somehow - a concert, theatre production, gallery event. On the other hand, I am very fond of crowded parties. One of my favorite scenes from the wonderful film "Breakfast At Tiffanys" is the party scene. Even though it's dated by today's standards, there are still character archetypes presented in that scene that still exist today. Those are the types of parties that I like - loud, boisterous affairs with crowds of people, each one more eclectic and outlandish than the last.

Big Bash

However, I have drifted away from my original post - which was tp spread great news! I finally found the time to redesign and update my web site for the new year and the new decade!

Please visit it and post your thoughts about the new design here! Enjoy!

Oh - and P.S.