Monday, December 30, 2013

Samwise Gamgee the Dog at the Air and Space Museum

Samwise Gamgee The Art Dog and I went to the Pima Air and Space Museum yesterday. They're dog friendly. Dog biscuits at the Space Hangar. Wegman and his Weimaraners will soon have something to fear from us. Yes!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The "Black" Paintings are Up on my Website...

Thanks to my super webguru, Emily Rapport, herself an amazing artist, a new gallery of paintings and drawings are up on my website from the Black Series. Over the past several years, I have explored the notion of working from the black out. We so much traditionally work with a white substrate, and then cover it up with marks of paint and drawing. In the Black Series I make a stab at pulling something out, rather than covering it.
Untitled 504, Nancy Charak, 22"x30, prismacolor, graphite on 90# black Stonehenge.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

News From Rounder Studio. . .

First of all, a reminder that Rounder Studio is now in Tucson, as I have pulled an Agnes Martin and decamped to the southwest. You can see some photos of my walks with my dog Samwise Gamgee at my Facebook IOS album.

In Chicago, good things. The ARC is having its 40th Anniversary show, they are the second oldest continuing artist cooperative in the country. I won't be there but my painting Realization 5216 will.

ARC Gallery, 2156 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60647, 773/252-2232
  • Exhibition Dates, September 25--October 19, 2013
  • Gallery Hours, Wednesday through Saturday, 12--6pm and Sunday, 12--4pm
  • Opening Reception, Friday, September 27, 6--9pm
  • Panel Discussion, Saturday, September 28, 3--4:30pm, including our founding sister, Gerda Meyer Bernstein

You can see my work and the work of other fine artists (including Agnes Martin) at The Nevica Project, under the good auspices of Jayson Lawfer, in the Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago, just a short 2-block walk from my former studio at the Cornelia Arts Building. Note that Jayson Lawfer is encouraging all of you who are attending the Art Expo in Chicago (September 19 – 22, 2013) this weekend to get to the showroom at

The Nevica Project, 3717 N. Ravenswood, Unit 115W, Chicago, IL, 60613, 406/360-0164

And then, the Cornelia Arts Building is having an Open Studio, Friday, October 4th from 6--10pm, you should go. My studio mates and friends will be there, Randi Russo, Scott Simons, Emily Roynesdal, Doug Birkenheuer, Doug Frohman, Kevin Swallow, Jason Messinger, Darrell Roberts, over 40 artists!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Voyager 1 Has Left the Solar System

It's official. Voyager 1 has left the solar system. NASA announced it this afternoon. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun. It doesn't change a thing here on Earth, but it's still a BFD.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Artist of the Day: Emily Rapport

Damen Sunset, Emily Rapport, 10"x14", watercolor

Emily Rapport, artist, is having an open studio, here's her artist website. I picked "Damen Sunset" because I truly love Emily's feel for watercolor and because this is a scene that fills me with nostalgia for my hometown and for the Brown Line, one of the mellowest transit rides in the world.

Ravenswood Open Studio
One Day Only…

Saturday, September 14, 4pm – 9pm

Featuring all new oil paintings by me PLUS work by studio mates Marion Kryczka, Amavong Panya and special guest artist Leo Kogan. Location is 4541 N. Ravenswood at Wilson, #403. Older works will be available and priced to sell. RSVP to our Facebook event here.

Free to enjoy, close to Ravenswood Metra, Damen Brown Line and plenty of free parking.

And in the shameless promotion department, Emily Rapport is my guru, my webmeister, she does my website, and here's her webwork website which is

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Artist of the Day: Bridget Riley

I confess to not having been a fan of Bridget Riley's early Op Art, but in her maturity, her late works are just stunning. Here's an article from The Guardian which states unequivocally that the greatest living British artist is Bridget Riley. Thank you Jonathan Jones.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Drawing Can Be Like Playing Scales

To quote artist Joyce Owens: "Drawing these figures is like playing scales for musicians...keeps your chops."
Joyce Owens, artist

FROM ArtNews, BY Robin Cembalest POSTED 07/25/13

These drawings are among 19 studies for Nighthawks, brought together for the first time, in a revelatory show now at the Whitney. “Hopper Drawing” deploys 200 Hopper drawings—part of a trove of 2,500 bequeathed by the artist’s widow, Josephine—to showcase the role of drawing throughout his career, from his life drawing classes at the New York School of Art in the early 1900s, to his travels in Europe and Paris from 1906 to 1910, to the studies he made at the Whitney Studio Club and beyond. (After closing at the Whitney on October 6, the show will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Walker Art Center.)

Top left: Edward Hopper, Study for Nighthawks (verso), 1941 or 1942, fabricated chalk on paper, 8 1/2 x 10 15/16 in. Top right: Edward Hopper, Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942, fabricated chalk on paper, 8 7/16 x 10 15/16 in. Bottom left: Edward Hopper, Study forNighthawks (recto), 1941 or 1942, fabricated chalk on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 in. Bottom right: Edward Hopper, Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942, fabricated chalk on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 1/16 in.

Then see the actual painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, Art Institute of Chicago

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gah, Thief's Mom, Ctd.

Lucien Freud, Woman with Eyes Closed

From The New York Times:

PARIS — To Olga Dogaru, a lifelong resident of the tiny Romanian village of Carcaliu, the strangely beautiful artworks her son had brought home in a suitcase four months earlier had become a curse.

But if the paintings and drawings no longer existed, Radu Dogaru, her son, could be free from prosecution, she reasoned. So Mrs. Dogaru told the police that on a freezing night in February, she placed all seven works — which included Monet’s 1901 “Waterloo Bridge, London”; Gauguin’s 1898 “Girl in Front of Open Window”; and Picasso’s 1971 “Harlequin Head” — in a wood-burning stove used to heat saunas and incinerated them.

The forensic experts have found traces of "pigments included cinnabar, chromium green and lazurite — a blue-green copper compound — as well as tin-lead yellow, which artists stopped using after the 19th century because of toxicity. In addition, copper nails and tacks made by blacksmiths before the Industrial Revolution and used to tack canvas down were found in the debris. Such items would be nearly impossible to fake."

Priceless beyond imagining. No means of restoration other than sighing at the pixels.

The New York Times Slideshow of the images.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gah, Paintings Burnt by Thief's Mom...

Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge

Six Romanians have been charged with the theft, and now detectives in their home country have found the charred remains of what looks like the paintings in an oven.
They were allegedly put there by Olga Dogaru who said she torched the artwork to "destroy the evidence" following her son's arrest in January.

Here's the original post from Bloomberg with images of the paintings that were presumably destroyed by the thief's mother.

Thieves stole seven paintings, including works by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, from the Kunsthal museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam earlier today, police said.

“Preliminary findings show the burglary was well- prepared,” the Rotterdam-Rijnmond police district said in a statement on its website. It said the theft took place at about 3 a.m. local time. Detectives are talking to possible witnesses and scrutinizing camera images, the police said.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Another Myth Destroyed, Solitary Genius Versus Disciplined Artist

Wheatfield with Crows, 1890. 50.2 cm x 103 cm (19.9 in x 40.6 in). Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

From ARCA...
June 16, 2013
Amsterdam Diary: "Van Gogh at Work" rebukes myth of solitary impulsive genius with the story of a disciplined artist influenced by his peers.

At the Van Gogh Museum, from an exhibit on Van Gogh's Studio Practice we learn that Van Gogh studied Delacroix, Signac, Seurat, Gauguin and Bernard. Maybe now we can grok that he was a disciplined practitioner of art practice, that his output came from hard work and hard study, not merely from mythological tortured inspiration.

"Van Gogh at Work" puts the evolving styles of the artist into context as Vincent learned how to use materials and developed his style, evolving from an academic painter to a modern artist beginning at the age of 27:
In the 19th century, artists normally learned their trade by taking lessons at an academy or in a well-known artist's studio. They were taught by the traditional method, drawing from plaster copies of ancient sculptures and from nude models. Van Gogh, too, took lessons of this kind, although never for very long: no more than eight months in total. In 1880 he studied at the academy in Brussels and in 1881 in Anton Mauve's studio in the Hague; in 1885 at the academy in Antwerp, and in 1886 in the atelier of the painter Fernand Carmon in Paris. In the end, Van Gogh learned his craft mainly by spending countless hours at home copying drawings and paintings. He chose subjects of all kinds, from plaster models of the kind used at the art academy to a worn-out pair of shoes.

The exhibit is a result of the research project 'Van Gogh's Studio Practice', initiated in 2005 by the Van Gogh Museum, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and Shell Netherlands.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Graffiti at El Morro, a Pictorial Essay

From the intro page El Morro National Monument.

Paso por aqui...

Imagine the comfort and refreshment of finding water after days of dusty travel. A reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff made El Morro (the headland) a popular campsite for hundreds of years. Here, Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs. We invite you to make El Morro a stopping point on your travels.

Slim and I came here, last April, to see this astonishing watering hole situated in the midst of an arid, but beautiful landscape. Indians, Spaniards, mountain men, American soldiers all left their marks in the soft rock. This all poses the question of what is the boundary between defacing sacred objects and historical artifact. When Napoleon's soldiers were in Egypt in 1798, they not only scratched their names into the ancient monuments, they did so over Roman graffiti.

From National Park Service website, inaccurate, Puebloans were there first, "The first inscription carved at El Morro was that of Governor Don Juan de Onate in 1605, 15 years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock."

The National Park Service is concerned about saving the graffiti but no contemporaneous or new inscriptions are allowed. Again I quote from their website about their concerns and efforts to preserve them from natural erosion.

El Morro is an important link to the past and natural deterioration of that link is a concern. Even though the inscriptions on Inscription Rock are very old, dating back to the 1600's, and the petroglyphs are anywhere from 700-1000 years old, they will not be here forever.

The processes of erosion, weathering and plant growth all take their toll. Sand grains wear away, rocks crumble and fall, and lichens and clay deposits cover the historic carvings. Important inscriptions become illegible or fall from the face of the bluff. A part of the evidence of our heritage is crumbling away.

The National Park Service hopes to preserve this evidence for as long as possible by assessing, monitoring and treating the inscriptions and the rocks in which they are carved. Dowload our Monitoring and Preservation brochure (608k PDF file) to learn more about the projects underway at El Morro National Monument.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sacred Places: El Malpais

Edge of Crater, El Malpais, April 2013, (c) Nancy Charak photograph
I have an affection for plants that anchor themselves into seemingly hostile environments. Here's this little guy who has decided, "Okay, I'm going to put down roots and try to earn a living here." This is the edge of a volcanic crater in El Malpais, which translates from Spanish to "the bad country." This crater last erupted 3,000 years ago, which in geologic time is just a split second ago.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sacred Places: El Malpais

Vicinity El Malpais, April 2013, (c) Nancy Charak photograph

It shouldn't take a linguist to decipher what El Malpais means, the badlands.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nancy Charak Open Studio Friday May 10 from 6 to 10 pm

Cornelia Arts Building, Where Art Works, Open Studios
Friday, May 10 from 6 to 10pm
1800 W. Cornelia, Chicago, that's the corner of Ravenswood and Cornelia, entrance is on Ravenswood, we're a block south of Addison, decent parking and close to the Brown Line.
Free and open to the public.

Nancy Charak in Chicago Gallery News

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sacred Places: Shiprock

Shiprock, Nancy Charak (c) 2013 photograph

After touring the transcendent scenery of Canyon de Chelly, my buddy, Slim and I motored over to Shiprock. Slim talked me into driving the rental car across the cattle grate through the open gate onto the dirt road to see how close we could get to take pictures. We estimated later via Google Earth that we'd done six miles in and six out. Not too bone jarring.

Shiprock, Nancy Charak (c) 2013 photograph

Shiprock Road, Nancy Charak (c) 2013 photograph
Google Earth capture of dirt roads to Shiprock

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Uncovering Indians at the Vatican

Via [The Telegraph]
Via [The Telegraph]  Apparently, these naked dancing figures are the first depiction of Native Americans in the old world, within just two years of Columbus' first landing in San Salvador in 1492. Recent cleaning uncovered these figures. Best part, they were hidden since 1503 because the succeeding popes wanted to distance themselves from the Borgias, and shut up their part of the Vatican. The rooms weren't reopened until 1889.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Woman on Horseback: Eliza Alicia Lynch

Imagine that there's a monstrous cloud of evil that circles the world and periodically swoops down and causes people to die in mass numbers for no discernable reason whatsoever. . .and we can without any effort at all, glide past the European Holocaust, to Rwanda, Cambodia, and Paraguay.

Paraguay fought against the combined forces of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, the Triple Alliance, from 1864 to 1870. At the end, over 60 percent of Paraguayans were dead, 90 percent of the men. When there weren't enough men to keep fighting, women and children took up arms.

"According to a rough-and-ready post-war census, just 29,000 males over the age of 15 were left in Paraguay. One observer called the survivors “living skeletons…shockingly mutilated with bullet and sabre wounds”. Jaguars roamed freely and feasted on human flesh. Women wandered the streets naked.The war wiped out Paraguay’s elite."[The Economist]

Woven through this history is Eliza Alicia Lynch, Irish born mistress of the ruling dictator Francisco Solano Lopez, who bore him seven children. She is said to have buried Solano Lopez and their fifteen year old son with her own hands after the final battle of Cerro Cora. At one point reputed to be the richest land owning woman in the world, later she was exiled twice from Paraguay to Paris, where she died in penury.

Historians are hugely discomfited by Eliza Lynch: not certain of what her role was in the prosecution of the war, of a disputed life as a courtesan, what her part was in the torture and murder of Solano Lopez's political enemies, they can't even agree on the causes of the war. In the end, it is an open question whether this woman who does not fit a conventional narrative is in fact an evil sorceress behind the second most devastating war in the Americas, a war which thoroughly destroyed Paraguay with ramifications that resound to this day, or not.

This is the book that introduced me to her life...
Woman on horseback: the biography of Francisco Lopez and Eliza Lynch by William E. Barrett.  It shouldn't be too much of a stretch to see Barrett's fix on her, "man on horseback" is code for dictator.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sacred Places: Stonehenge

Stonehenge, October 2004, Nancy Charak, photograph

Need a job? Qualifications: you must adore megaliths, tolerate neo-Druids, understand the "loony" neolithic, make note of the summer solstice, deal with British weather on Salisbury Plain, be good with PowerPoint, and be super people friendly.

English Heritage at Stonehenge is looking for a General Manager.

"Then English Heritage may have just the job for you. The firm, which manages 420 historic properties across Britain, is looking for "an exceptional senior manager" to oversee the "visitor experience" at one of the world's most famous historic monuments: Stonehenge. (Yep, that Stonehenge.) The ring of standing stones, erected perhaps as early as 3000 BC, has been one of the world's most popular tourist destinations -- and, come December 2013, the site will offer a revamped visitors' center and exhibition galleries. The General Manager will oversee that center."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sacred Ground: Wounded Knee

Spotted Elk in Death, photo credit:  [PBS Archives]
The historian Frederick Jackson Turner noted in his essay, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” Report of the American Historical Association (1893): 199-227.1

"In a recent bulletin of the Superintendent of the Census for 1890 appear these significant words: "Up to and including 1880 the country had a frontier of settlement, but at present the unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line. In the discussion of its extent, its westward movement, etc., it can not, therefore, any longer have a place in the census reports." This brief official statement marks the closing of a great historic movement. Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward, explain American development."

However, the year 1890 not only marks the disappearance of the American frontier, insofar as unsettled areas had been so broken up that there was not any longer evidence of a frontier line, but of the last significant American Indian massacre at Wounded Knee and the subjugation of proud peoples.

Here's an eyewitness account via Wikipedia;

"Black Elk (1863–1950); medicine man, Oglala Lakota:  ""I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream ... the nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.""  (Source: Black Elk Speaks, c. 1932)

Via [NYTimes]  
"WOUNDED KNEE, S.D. — Ever since American soldiers massacred men, women and children here more than a century ago in the last major bloodshed of the American Indian wars, this haunted patch of rolling hills and ponderosa pines has embodied the combustible relationship between Indians and the United States government."

"It was here that a group of Indian activists aired their grievances against the government with a forceful takeover in 1973 that resulted in protests, a bloody standoff with federal agents and deep divisions among the Indian people."

"And now the massacre site, which passed into non-Indian hands generations ago, is up for sale, once again dragging Wounded Knee to the center of the Indian people’s bitter struggle against perceived injustice — as well as sowing rifts within the tribe over whether it would be proper, should the tribe get the land, to develop it in a way that brings some money to the destitute region."

Does paying homage to righteous memory have a high price? Apparently.

And since murdered children are recently in the news, here's another link to the events of the massacre with many photos and eyewitness accounts.

The Wound Knee museum's website is here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Berlin Wall Coming Down Again

via [Spiegel OnLine] March 27, 2013 – 02:00 PM

"It disappeared in the night, just as it had come. On an August morning in 1961, Berliners woke up to find their city divided by the beginnings of what would become the Berlin Wall. On Wednesday, the city's residents woke to find that a chunk of it had been removed -- something a vocal minority seems to see as an event of equal historical outrage."

"The 1.3-kilometer (0.8-mile) landmark, known as the East Side Gallery, is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. Four of its sections were dismantled early Wednesday morning to make wake way for the construction of a luxury high-rise building. Anticipating protest from residents, some 250 police officers were deployed for the operation, a spokesman told the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel."

This is the part where I say that I'm glad I got to see it before it came down a second time. I was glad to see it come down the first time.

Nancy Charak, photograph
Nancy Charak, photograph
Nancy Charak, photograph

Nancy Charak, photograph

Nancy Charak, photograph
Nancy Charak, photograph

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Art World is In Your Head

John Sevigny, photographer "Serrenata 2006."

Via the always brilliant [John Sevigny]

"While sometimes good for bathroom reading or making fun of some sucker who just spent a fortune on a Damien Hirst (buy the yacht next time, fella), art magazines exist because galleries pay Big Money to advertise in them." 

"The art world is in your head, in your heart, down on the corner in Chicago where that homeless guy sells tin cans cleverly turned into windchimes (or whatever), and of course, at Gone City. You can sometimes find art on Facebook. You can always find it on the walls of rundown buildings in El Salvador, Memphis, Austin or anywhere else bored kids get together to paint things. The art industry has existed for a few centuries. As far as anyone knows, art has existed for 30,000 years. Art does not need an industry. But the industry needs art, because after all, industries have to produce something to survive as industries."

"We agree with Robert Smithson that museums are where art goes to die. It works like this: Somebody makes something good and calls it art. Somebody likes it and buys it. It goes up in the happy buyer's home. Happy buyer dies (because with the exception of bad art, everything dies). Good and useful object ends up at small auction house because the happy buyer's heirs don't particularly think Matisse/Otto Dix/Jackson Pollock are important or relevant to their lives. Very wealthy private collector picks up art object for a third of its estimated value, before (like everything else) dying and donating his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Art object is filed away in a warehouse for possible exhibition sometime in the future (but probably not)."


Passover Explained in 2 Minutes...

via [Andrew Sullivan]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

HELLO!!! Art Institute of Chicago, HELLO!!!

via [Hyperallergic]

Photo credit: Hyperallergic

"The Metropolitan Museum director Thomas P. Campbell announced today that starting this summer on July 1, the museum will stay open every day of the week."

HELLO, Art Institute of Chicago, the way to art lovers' hearts is through the open door.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Suspects Identified in Gardner Museum Heist

It's a nibble not a bite. Via [Hyperallergic]

"Today, the FBI announced that they have identified possible suspects in the shocking 1990 Isabella Gardner Stewart Museum heist of $500m worth of art, which included three works by Rembrant, Vermeer’s “The Concert” (1658–1660), Govaert Flinck’s “Landscape with an Obelisk” (1638), five works by Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet’s “Chez Tortoni” (1878–1880), and a historic Chinese beaker (1200–1100 BCE)."

"The theft, which happened 23 years ago today, is the largest property crime in history, according to FBI investigators. Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office Richard DesLauriers said during the afternoon press conference in Boston that they have “made significant investigative progress” in their investigation. DesLauriers explained that they have been able to connect the robbery with a crime organization with a base in the Mid-Atlantic region. According to DesLauriers, it is with a ”high degree of confidence” that the “art was transported to Connecticut and Philadelphia area.” DesLauriers also explained that at least one of the works was offered for sale in the Philadelphia area but did not elaborate on that particular incident."

The FBI has set up a website:

I especially hope for the recovery of the Vermeer, "The Concert," there are so few of them, a mere 36. 

Vermeer, The Concert

Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, Nancy Charak photo

Here's a video from the FBI:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Robots Again. . .This Time Aerial

In keeping with what is a recurring theme on this blog, that robots are becoming more and more autonomous.

Artist of the Day: Joyce Owens

Joyce Owens, artist

Joyce Owens, artist

Joyce Owens, artist

Busy blogging day, nice. Here's my artist of the day, Joyce Owens, the link is to her exhibits throughout the world at the behest of the United States Department of State. The link takes you to her Swaziland exhibition which is now on-line. Below are other links in other embassies where Joyce's work has been shown, Stockholm, Addis Ababa, Monrovia, Nato Headquarters in Brussels.