Sunday, June 28, 2015


Thanks, Yoko, for all the memories!

A Work to Be Stepped On

Painting to Hammer a Nail


London poster

Plastic Ono Band room

"Shaved Fish" record

Half a Room

Cut Piece

My Yoko Experience - June 26, 2015 - MoMA, NYC
Go to

Read Sandy's Article: Yoko on the Periphery

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Jacob Lawrence: Painter of the Triumph of the Human Spirit

Jacob Lawrence (September 7, 1917 – June 9, 2000) was an African-American painter known for his portrayal of black life in America. In 1941, then just 23 years old, Jacob completed a series of 60 small tempera paintings with text captions about the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915. Within months of its making, the series entered the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and the Phillips Memorial Gallery (today The Phillips Collection), with each institution acquiring half of the panels. Lawrence's work is now an icon in both collections, a landmark in the history of modern art, and a key example of the way that history painting was radically reimagined in the modern era.

I had the great pleasure of viewing the MoMA exhibit and was very moved by this series.  It's one thing to try to capture beautiful images in paint - quite another to be able to tell such an intimate story with tempera on brown paper, which conveys exactly the mood and emotions of its subjects and makes us truly feel the pain of the people. 

Jacob was ahead of his time and if he were alive today, would be front and center in the struggle against racism in America.  He was the witness to it all and brought such grace to his subjects, which leads us from the early 20th century all the way to the steps of the church in Charleston, South Carolina that recently suffered such tremendous senseless losses.  His paintings predict the strength and character of these brave souls and teaches us to move forward and beyond such intolerance.

One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Works
At the Whitney Museum of American Art
His Legacy
Phillips Collection

Along with Lawrence's series at MoMA, the exhibition includes other accounts of the migration from the era, including novels and poems; music by Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday; photographs by Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Gordon Parks, and Robert McNeill; and paintings by Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, and Charles White. The range of works in the exhibition sheds light on the ways in which Lawrence drew upon and transformed contemporary models for representing black experience in America.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rediscovering Elliott Smith

I went to the director’s screening of "Heaven Adores You," the documentary about Elliott Smith, the other night.  My mother and I listened to his music a lot before she passed away... but now I’m rediscovering his music and finding a whole new way of listening to Elliott’s songs.  I like to read the lyrics while I listen because they’re so brilliant... as was he.

If you go on YouTube and type in Elliott Smith XO (his record, XO)... and just listen to each song, it’s a real experience.

You’ll notice his Beatles influence....  listening to Elliott for the first time (especially XO) is like discovering The White Album all over again!

My favourite songs are:
Waltz #2 – biting in his own way... about his mother and stepfather
Between the Bars – the saddest song in the world
Tomorrow Tomorrow – some of the most beautiful harmonies
Sweet Adeline  such a rare surprise
Miss Misery – he became famous when they played this song in the movie, “Good Will Hunting”

Check out Torment Saint - the wonderful in-depth biography of Elliott's life and music.
My special tribute to Elliott's Between the Bars.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Premiere of "The Blue Butterfly"

My song, "The Blue Butterfly" dedicated to Henri Matisse premieres today.  It's the story of a blue butterfly and a painting Paul Cezanne had given him which inspired Matisse for many years to paint his many masterpieces. This is one in a series of songs from my upcoming album, "Painting Music."

In Hilary Spurling's brilliant biography of Matisse - The Unknown MatisseA Life of Henri Matisse, she tells the story of how Matisse was encouraged by Madame Matisse to follow his dream: he saw a blue butterfly and spent his last dollar to buy it so he could duplicate the blue of that butterfly in his painting.  The butterfly and Cezanne taught him in a very special way to become the painter he always knew he could be.

"Matisse said he had dreamed from his earliest years of the radiant light and colour he finally achieved in the stained-glass windows of the chapel at Vence in 1952. 'It is the whole of me . . . everything that was best in me as a child.' He told his grandson, who had been taken aback to find almost every conventional feature of a church interior missing from the chapel, that his whole life had been in some sense a flight. 'I come from the North. You can't imagine how I hated those dark churches.' One of the effects that pleased him most in the Vence chapel was a clear reflected blue of an intensity he said he had seen before only in the glint on a butterfly's wing, and in the pure blue flame of burning sulphur: the flames of the volcano that first erupted in a toy theatre in Bohain seventy years before. 'Even if I could have done, when I was young, what I am doing now--and it is what I dreamed of then--I wouldn't have dared.'" 

Here are the lyrics to my song:

The Blue Butterfly

She heard an echo. She understood in her soul
and from all the lives she’d lived before…
Intuition must be trusted. Blind faith cannot tell
when the mysteries are found at the bottom of the well.

Risks and faith in the smoldering fires
and the burning of his deep desires.
The Genie of the lamp’s
full of demons and the dance.
Singing Harmony in Red.
His passionate view of joy they said
crossed the Green Line, o wild Fauve;
paint the red room and orange grove.

The blue of that butterfly and Cezanne
made you more of a spiritual man.

Blue as a sulfur flame filled with Mediterranean light.
Such a blue, it pierced his heart.
He knew he had to buy that cherished butterfly.

The painting spoke in its own clear voice.
She knew right then that she had no choice
but to breathe in the harmony.
She made the greatest sacrifice
to decide and not think twice.
Cross the blue line, o wild beast,
break the mold and paint a feast.

The blue of that butterfly and Cezanne
made you more of a spiritual man.

Go here to listen now on Soundcloud.
Watch the video here.