Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Untitled (Local Bosc Pear ) 2011, chalk on paper, 6 x 6 inches, private collection

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Earthly Delights - paintings by Lena Viddo

"I'm an observer, a witness, and in the end and most importantly I am an image maker" -- Lena Viddo

Light My Fire

In conversation with Lena Viddo, any subject will elicit an interesting story that has moved her – some are personal, like a bikini-clad, too-close encounter with a colony of wasps in an unwanted shrub. She gathers interesting information as well – the personal habits of bees, camps of immigrants living along the Thames River who survive by hunting the swans … Lena brings all of her enthusiasm for narrative and detail to her current series, “Earthly Delights,” without sacrificing painterly values. Her surface is fine and almost irresistible to touch.

Viddo’s points of reference reflect the location of her two studios -- rural Vermont, and the deep woods of human nature known as Manhattan. She draws on her responses to both, and much more, to inspire and inform her allegorical portraits and mindscapes -- found and sourced objects, live models (including herself and her daughter), and a library of hundreds of wildlife and nature reference books. Animals are not rendered placeholders for symbols and icons, they thrive in her invented world.

Depicting a sharp reality not tethered to realism, Viddo’s canvases evoke a life on the edge of the incarnate. Imagined in motion, her strong characters radiate an energy that suggests puppetry over animation. The notion of these edgy stories in performance for children is not outlandish, these matinees recall the gruesome, ancient fairy tales we asked our parents to “read over again,” and every child’s fascination with all things ooky and natural – alive or dead. So it comes as no surprise that Lena is also a devoted mom with keen insight into the inner lives of children, and a pathway to the child in each of her viewers.

Jungle of Insatiable Lust

As in a good bedtime story, the wide eyes of an “Earthly Delights” heroine in her particular predicament -- with playful mice (she’s eating one), curious swans craning severed necks, enormous ticks in the curly golden locks of a nymph, loosely stitched incisions (a reference to cosmetic surgery), giant bees, menacing toys or an amorous frog -- are the window on her vulnerability as well as on her power to endure and vanquish. Lena says ,“Once I get the eyes, the rest of the painting flows.”

One can trace this dynamic in the history of her works to a series depicting submissive characters in bondage situations, “Ties That Bind,” which are composed tightly around a single figure with the eyes sometimes all or partially out of view. The physical gesture so strongly radiates the angst and desire of anticipation that, when the eyes are in play, it overwhelms. For the more loosely composed “Earthly Delights,” the artist restrains her own powers to dominate the emotions of the viewer, confining that energy to the depths of liquid eyes, from which it escapes in flashes she allows to appear seemingly against her will.


Unlike many artists who shy away from discussing underlying messages in their work, Lena acknowledges her intention to address certain issues and themes – a food/oral motif, male-female love, the tyranny of beauty, the relationship of victim and predator. Some of these visions and characterizations populate the works of a poet who particularly sparks her imagination, Pablo Neruda.

From Viddo’s own translation of “A Cat’s Dream:

“I should like to sleep like a cat,

with all the fur of the ages,

with a tongue rough as flint,

with the dry sex of fire;

and after speaking to no one,

stretch myself over the world,

over roofs and landscapes,

with a passionate desire

to hunt the rats in my dreams.”

Ocean of Insatiable Lust

Lena’s work appeals to and inspires other artists. Her portrait of a roaring big cat ,“Water Tiger” -- from her other current series of close up-works in vertiginously layered detail with a fauvist twist and appropriately named “Sexy Beast,” -- was acquired last year by Shepard Fairey.

Another artist well known for his difficult content and great detail, Ahmed Alsoudani, enjoys the contradiction in the childlike form and angry eyes of Viddo’s free-standing piece in his collection, painted on a “Dunny” toy figure, called “Hide and Secret.” “I like the idea,” he says, “that I have to look all around the piece to see all the details, heavy in some places open in others.” He pointed out a shared element in their visual vocabulary -- a zipper -- which appears in his recent painting as well as Lena’s work.

Manifest Destiny

On message, current events can affect the evolution of a painting. Viddo explained that a vignette depicting torture in a section of the large landscape, “Manifest Destiny,” was inspired by the news and images of the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. In this series, she says, “Torture becomes fashion and fashion in the end becomes torture.”

Lena’s powerful paintings don’t evoke feeling first, they make you see, and see again. I don’t necessarily trust her not to show more than I can handle, but I know I will never resist looking. The artist possesses the insight and skill-set to transparently disturb and entertain us at the same time, and also disturb us with the fact that we are entertained… which of course teaches us something about ourselves. At her visual cocktail party, she has put her mousetrap in the potato chip bowl, and, even though it snaps and hurts, we just can’t get enough.

Dining with the Cannibals

Essay to accompany the works of Lena Viddo at the 2011 Florence Biennale. Her work will also appear in the group exhibitions Curate NYC at Bill Hodges Gallery and Curate NYC at Rush Arts

All images (c) Lena Viddo, website

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day October 13, 2011

13 Facts Everyone Should Know about Metastatic Breast Cancer:

1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. The lump itself is not what kills. The metastasis of cancerous cells to a vital organ is what kills.

2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.

3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control and quality of life vs. curative intent. ("Treatable but unbeatable.")

5. About 6% to 10% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.

6. Early detection is not a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur ANY time after a person's original diagnosis, EVEN if the patient was initially Stage 0, I, II or III and DESPITE getting annual checkups and annual mammograms.

7. Between 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with regional stage disease WILL develop metastatic breast cancer.

8. Young people DO get metastatic breast cancer.

9. There are many different kinds of metastatic breast cancer.

10. Treatment choices for MBC are guided by hormone (ER/PR) and HER2 receptor status, location and extent of metastasis (visceral vs. nonvisceral), previous treatment and other factors.

11. Metastatic breast cancer isn't an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some can live long and productive lives.

12. There are no hard and fast prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Everyone's situation is unique, but according to the American Cancer Society, the 5 year survival rate for stage IV is around 20%.

13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day as well as resources specifically for people with metastatic breast cancer see www. We appreciate your support on October 13 and throughout the year.

Another good site to share with anyone you may know who has been struck by BC, is They list trials currently going on for a person’s particular cancer, using a personalized search engine.

Is there an organization that uses donations DIRECTLY FOR research, which is the key to ending cancer? RESEARCH is the key, so much is complicated by pharmaceutical companies who primarily research drugs that will make just them money as fast as possible. There must be some pure BC research somewhere where monies are singly dedicated to finding a BC cure. Readers, if you know of any such efforts please forward the information to!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Surrender -- Artist Lin Evola's Flight of Angels


Jerusalem Peace Angel (detail) by Lin Evola

"The Peace Angels are what I and my team of artists do. Hopefully, this will inspire artists to do art that compels, provokes change." - Lin Evola


Surrendered weapons at Sims Metal Management, NJ

On October 3rd 2011 artist Lin Evola will be joined in Los Angeles by Sheriff Leroy Baca of Los Angeles County, LAPD Chief of Police Charles L. Beck and other officials to formally unveil the prototype for a five-foot sculpture to be installed at the Boyle Heights Tech Center. The “California Peace Angel” will join Evola’s series of works fabricated from surrendered and confiscated weapons, in this case donated last fall for this purpose by Sheriff Baca and Chief Beck. The event is only the latest milestone in a nearly two-decade-long journey for the artist.

Recently, NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly personally presented 946 illegal firearms to the Art of Peace Charitable Trust. The guns, surrendered in a buy-back or confiscated from suspects, will be melted down and re-cast as a Peace Angel sculpture to be installed at Police Headquarters.


Commissioner Kelly and Lin Evola

"I had a spiritual experience," she explained of learning, when her son was eight years old, that 1,000 children were being killed each year in Los Angeles. "I couldn't comprehend surviving such a loss... drawing out what I was feeling, the first Peace Angels became drawings of different cultures. The very first one and the next five were drawn at the LA County Museum, inspired by what I saw there."

The choice to express her emotion visually was natural for Lin. "Art overcomes the constraints of the word. Art is beyond language and engages all the senses that it reaches." It's a lifelong devotion for Evola. "Art is my first language and the one that I am most proficient," she says, "I learned to walk and talk at the same time that I learned to draw. It is who and what I am."

Evola discussed her chosen medium for the Peace Angels: "A sculpture lasts a million years... Clear communication would have to bridge age groups, sex, races, all people, to do what I had in mind -- shift consciousness... I would have to be exact." The substance of the art has a clear meaning as well. "Contemporary weapons -- swords to plough shares -- a human axiom as old as humanity itself."


Drawing by Lin Evola

The project has brought the artist to many places and in contact with people she would not otherwise have met, experiences which intensify her passion. When she met President Halilovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina after the war in the Balkans, she learned that, "After the war ended, a secondary plague ensued, where hundreds of children were dying by being shot or shooting each other as they located the weapons their parents hid to protect their families from future potential threat."

She speaks of "the outreach of pain of the loss of one person. When one child is killed, parents suffer; some die. Communities change."

"The same mechanism of consciousness that takes place to cause the action called violence, is what needs to shift to send that volition in a direction that protects," Evola realized. "Causing peace is purposeful. It takes effort and paying attention. It takes respect and being awake."


World Trade Center drawings by Lin Evola

As Americans, we are still reeling from the effects of mindless violence almost a decade after September 11, 2001. "I still suffer from grief," said Evola, "I know many people do." Lin and her husband Daniel Peabody-Smidt "brought the Renaissance Peace Angel from Santa Monica to Nino's Restaurant to stand sentinel during those dark days. The firemen, police officers and rescue workers signed the cement base."


Renaissance Peace Angel in Lower Manhattan, photo by Peter Danello.

Both were exposed to toxins, and while Lin was able to recover with treatment, Daniel lost his life in June of 2005. "My drawings have only been black and white since Daniel passed," she said.


Drawing of New York Peace Angel by Lin Evola

Lin Evola and the Art of Peace Charitable Trust continue her work to defuse violence with art, a goal of which she will never lose sight.

"What I have learned the most in the many, many stories, is that there can not be one sliver of energy that is ambiguous or off in creating a better life for your children, " she said. "You have to live what you believe."


Small Peace Angel with weapons to be re-purposed

More at:

All images courtesy of the Art of Peace Charitable Trust

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall for Molly!

Starting the season right, next week Molly Barnes returns to New York for brown bag lunches with 2 super guests...

Courtroom drawing of John Gotti (c) Marilyn Church

On Thursday, September 22nd, see for yourself why the Library of Congress recently acquired 4000 amazing courtroom drawings by Marilyn Church, as Molly talks with the artist and author of "The Art of Justice."

August Biehle (1885 - 1979), "Kokoon Club Ball"

Friday September 23rd marks the return of art historian and author Henry Adams, this time transporting us to Cleveland in the early 20th century for a look at the groundbreaking, influential and sometime scandalous Kokoon Arts Club.

As always, the program begins promptly at noon at the Roger Smith Hotel, 47th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. And please arrive early to meet and mingle - Molly's buying lunch!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hot Topics, Cool Guests, and Lunch with Molly!

Already a talented personality at the swirling center of New York’s art scene in the 1960’s, Isabelle Dufresne met Andy Warhol and went on the become a leading figure in his iconic entourage under her nom-du-guerre, Ultra Violet. Her memoir, “FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES, My Years with Andy Warhol,” is a page-turner, an engrossing history laced with just the right measures of humor and tragedy to assure us that it is real.

But hers is not a “what-ever-happened-to...?” celebrity story. Ultra Violet is still a prominent artist, exhibiting work internationally that reflects and employs this century’s issues and media, with sincerity balanced with visual sensitivity and technical savvy. (The image below is from her “Nine-Eleven” series)

(c) Ultra Violet

A dynamic speaker, Ultra Violet will talk with Molly about her art and the book on Thursday, June 16th.

from "The Madness of Art" (c)

Who says art isn’t fun? Certainly not dealer Jim Kempner, who visits Molly on Friday June 17th to present new excerpts from his series, “The Madness of Art.”

Jim owns the inviting gallery at 23rd and 10th that is the first one most people see when arriving in Chelsea.

Jim Kempner Fine Art

Having been lucky enough to catch him in a presentation a few years back, I can attest that after laughing along with Jim about the art world, you will never see that gallery, or any other, quite the same way again. In a good way...

Molly Barnes hosts her brown bag lunch talks at the Roger Smith Hotel, 501 Lexington Avenue at 47th Street in Manhattan. Presentations begin promptly at 12 Noon, arrive early to enjoy your lunch, catch up with your friends, and make some new ones! There’s never a charge, for reservations and more info call Molly at 212-755-1400.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Come out, rain or shine - Molly's back in town!

Art and fun take up residence once again at the Roger Smith Hotel, as Molly Barnes presents 2 more of her amazing Brown Bag Lunch talks with the most interesting people in the art world.

Thursday April 21st, join Molly and her guest, artist Elaine Grove, for a discussion of Elaine's work - and toys!

On Friday the 22nd artist, banjo player and lyricist Audrey Flack will front "The History of Art String Band" in a performance of songs dedicated the like likes of Krasner, Pollock and Gauguin...

Both presentations begin at 12 noon sharp at 501 Lexington Avenue (47th St.)

Not only is it free to join the conversation, coffee, soft drinks and your little brown lunch bag- a home style sandwich for your soul, a cookie for your dark side and fruit because you know it's good for you - are on the house. So do arrive early to mingle and enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brown Bag Lunch Talks Return With Mimi Gross on Thursday and Stephen Haller on Friday

For the first time in 2011, this Year of the Rabbit and this decade, Molly Barnes has landed on the East Coast with a post-Valentine treat for art-loving New Yorkers - 2 more in her series of lunch talks with the most interesting personalities on the scene!

On Thursday, February 17th artist Mimi Gross, who also happens to be the daughter of sculptor Chaim Gross and the former wife and collaborator of Red Grooms, will talk with Molly about her life in art - for a taste, visit her wonderful blog....

Gallerist Stephen Haller is Molly’s guest on Friday the 18th for a conversation about his his friendship with Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. (You can read an interview on the subject on Joanne Mattera’s art blog.)

As always for a couple of decades, there is never a charge to attend, and even your lunch - home-made sandwich, cookie & fruit in a brown bag - is on the house. Arrive early to mingle and enjoy before the presentation begins at noon.

More about Molly's programs at

Saturday, January 29, 2011

An Artist's Book With Bite -- From the Mighty Pen of Anthony Haden-Guest



Anthony Haden-Guest

Far from the right wing diatribe, Anthony Haden-Guest's new book is a hilarious and terrifying ride in words and pictures through the times in which we live. "In The Mean Time" presents Haden-Guest's signature cartoons and drawings alongside passages in verse, which he explains is not poetry ("The difference is rather like the difference between cartoons and fine art, I think."), but storytelling in the tradition of the likes of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Hilaire Belloc.


Courtesy Freight and Volume

Published by Freight and Volume, the limited-edition book will also be available in a smaller edition including some original artwork. It was welcomed enthusiastically by an invited audience at a January 4th reading, with music - by the author and friends - at NYC's Gershwin Hotel.


Anthony Haden-Guest reads

Employing many voices for his deliciously unreliable yet pointed narration, Haden-Guest takes on such weighty subjects as politics, the environment, celebrity, art, death, and shoes...all the while mastering the authorial touch to guide readers through his world while allowing us to make our own decisions about what we see and who we meet there.


Juliette Bennett and Drew Hammond

Joining Anthony in the presentation were Tommy James on piano, Lorraine Leckie performing one of the verses, "Bad Shoes Blues," with her original music, and actor Juliette Bennett and writer Drew Hammond voicing 2 oh-so-downtown characters in "Encounter on the Lower East Side."


Tommy James on piano


Despite, or perhaps as a result of simplicity and directness, the pieces run deep as slices of the way we live around here - timely and on-target in a world where we are beginning to ask hard questions in the face of material challenges to our presumptions - seasoned to taste with wicked humor and finished with fine wordsmithing. When you encounter yourself on Haden-Guest's pages you may laugh, smile, or pretend not to notice, but if you don't think you see yourself, you are not paying attention.

from "In The Mean Time" courtesy Freight and Volume


Nick Lawrence, whose Chelsea art gallery, Freight + Volume, published the book, told us he has always had a passion for narrative, and throughout his career as a dealer has presented artists' books and published several, as well as his gallery's eponymous magazine. Anthony and Nick first met at a dinner in London, where Anthony was creating caricatures of his fellow guests.


from "In The Mean Time" courtesy Freight and Volume

Nick told us, "If two friends can survive a small publishing venture and still..."

Anthony interrupted, "It's not over yet."


Nick and Anthony

For future events and where to get the book, please contact Freight and Volume at
530 W. 24th St. New York, NY 10011, 212-691-7700

uncredited photos © resolve40 2011