Artist Statement

Introduction to this website 

The artwork selected for this website offers viewers the opportunity to view a wide range of my artistic interests and social concerns. The artworks; paintings pastels and sculptures, are divided into various categories; abstract and realistic landscapes and seascapes, figurative images in  abstract  geometric environments and graphic works inspired by the Holocaust.  The Holocaust Series of drawings and paintings are responses to documentary sources as well as to my original photographic material.  The sources for the non Holocaust oriented works are from locations photographed by the artist during travels in the United States the Caribbean , China, Japan, South America, and locations as close as a short walk from my studio in central in Ohio.

Some of the purely abstract works may evoke the feeling of a particular geographic place but in fact they may represent the sensations of remembered forms, colors or light from various locations.

I rarely make finished art on site. While travelling there is usually only enough time to take  photographs. Thanks to digital photography and high capacity SD cards I can quickly take a lot of images Later when I return to the studio the photos are downloaded to my computer. It is only then that I begin to seriously  look for significant aspects in the photographs that might make strong paintings.  This selection process is extremely important since in many cases I find the most interesting elements in the photographic source  in small or unanticipated parts of the original image. The computer assisted working studies are then reinterpreted on canvas or paper using traditional painting tools. The creative process begins a new.

Working from photographs can offer the challenge of getting exacting details unavailable on a brief visit to a site. Additionally a photographic source can  correct my memory of complex fleeting effects such as the color and transparency of different depths of water or the wind driven spray over the tops of waves.

When working on a purely abstract piece, without a specific or single photographic source, I start the painting process by selecting and mixing a range of colors. I then begin applying paint to  canvas or pastel to paper in ways that respond to an inner need for balance, structure and freedom. I frequently work with a design concept that results in free flowing forms played against vertical or horizontal divisions of space with overlying linear elements. Working abstractly is a lot different from developing or interpreting an image that already exists. It presents the artist with constantly changing visual and intellectual challenges.  Foremost is the fact that you don’t necessarily know when the work is finished until an inner voice says to stop.

I have been fortunate in  that I find inspiration and satisfaction encountered in the different challenges invoked in  working both realistically and abstractly.

Elements of Art

A straight line when vertical is a figure

A straight line when horizontal is a landscape

A line when on a diagonal recedes into space

A line when it returns to itself makes a shape

Color creates space

Color creates emotion

Light creates space

Light creates emotion

Texture creates space

Texture creates emotion

Art is emotion made tangible

Artists important to me

Rembrandt , Cezanne and Matisse,because their work got better with age.

Klee, because he makes me realize that simple ideas are the

most complex and the most rewarding.

Kandinsky, because his work

was the first to teach me about the levels of meaning in abstraction.

Twachtman, because his landscapes are about how to feel about

place and process.

Church, because his majestic

vision is his own creation.

Monet, because I see his hand and eye take risks

Hofmann because he controls the mind and frees the spirit.

Heartfield and Goya because they do not look away.

There are others, but as Hillel said “the rest is commentary”

Subjects I return to

Color filled landscape abstractions

Realistic images of local streams

 waterfalls and sea shores

And waves

Asian influences

The Holocaust

The Holocaust Series

The paintings, drawings and mixed media works I created for the Holocaust Series are a response to documentary images in the public domain or photographs I have made at sites in Europe.  The work is realistic, descriptive interpretive and expressive. It is my intent to use the appearance of a documentary photograph or a news  photo for its direct factual associations but shift the viewer’s attention to specific areas of interest within the work to heighten its emotional intensity. The message is important. The first impression must be clear, direct and unambiguous. But there also needs to be an emotional connection that goes beyond the horror of the facts presented.  To achieve that result I combine realism with abstract elements such as textured surfaces, aggressive gestural marking and symbolic references to fire, smoke, wind, and atmospheric turbulence. To further enhance the accessibility of these shocking representations I make use of compositions based on traditional liturgical designs. On occasion I have also constructed actual objects that make direct reference to the objects in the  images in the paintings.

There should be no doubt as to what is portrayed and where the artist stands in relation to the moral implications of the situation presented.

I have titled this  body of work The Holocaust Series.  I consider it in its entirety homage to the millions of Jewish victims and others wantonly murdered by the Nazis during WWII. I believe this calamity was the defining moment of evil in our time. As a Jew I am angered by the knowledge that anti-Semitism could have so completely dominated a society thus making possible the genocide of European Jewry by the Third Reich. I am outraged by the perpetuation of anti-Semitism even as knowledge of the atrocities of the Holocaust are widely known and accepted as fact. I am angered by the passive indifference displayed by individuals, societies and governments in the face of intolerance and bigotry.

Art can not successfully compete with political power. It can however act as a moral compass and it does create an expressive, emotional record of a culture’s social and political attitudes.  The Holocaust occurred more than seven decades ago. Since then we have had  “Police Actions”, colonial wars, and numerous civil wars.  Today we remain confronted with the political realities of ethnic cleansing, intimidation, mass killings and terrorism in our daily lives. If we are ever to have a more humane society people must finally and fully accept the truth that prejudice and militarism result in gore not glory. Each of us can, in some way, make a contribution toward decreasing prejudice in  our communities and in some cases the world at large.As an artist and teacher I use my work to play a small part in that quest.