Friday, November 29, 2013

Some recent photographs taken around the city

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Waldemar Swierzy 1931-2013. The wonderful Polish poster designer has passed

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Saul Leiter 1923-2013

The Great Photographer Saul Leiter has passed

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Los Angeles Plays Itself

 I've been wanting to see this documentary for some time, but it is not and most likely will never be available on DVD because of the copyright complications, but I did find the complete film on Youtube yesterday and spent 3 hours watching it. Well worth the time. If you love movies this is for you. Its also great for Los Angeles lovers (and haters) and how this city has played such an important part in the history of film.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Postcard. November 2013. Ink, paint, wax and collage on blank postcard.

Notebook drawing. November 2013

Stupid Dumb Day.

I went up to the Whitney today in the rain to see the Robert Indiana show. Oh good I thought to myself it looks empty. Yes it was empty because they weren't opened yet. The guard at the door told me we open at 1 on Fridays. At 1, but I looked on the website and it said 11. Well my eye filled in an extra 1 when there wasn't one, so there I was with 90 minutes to kill before they threw open their doors. What museum opens at 1 in the afternoon, what is that about. I want my museums to open at 11 or even earlier. What to do with 90 minutes to kill, and I was already pooped from the long subway ride from Brooklyn and I didn't have my camera with me which I kept reaching for in my coat pocket. Its not there Ira Joel. Well since I had the arts section of the Times on me, I noticed that the Gagosian Madison ave gallery was right across the street, and since I've never been I thought why not, Willem de Kooning and David Smith that sounded good to me. This has got to be the scariest gallery in town 3 floors and looking like something out of a Stanley Kubrick movie, or a place one would go to get their face lifted or have all their important organs taken out and sold on the black market. This place gave me the creeps, with those long hallways and the Stepford girls behind their high counters, and those poor young guards just standing there for hours. I did like the David Smith show of his tall vertical forgings and while not my favorite de Kooning's I still thought they look lovely. I still had 90 minutes to kill, and I couldn't decide what to do, the upper east side is so off putting, its sort of like Philadelphia but with a lot more money. Should I go to the Met, the park or just go home and come back some other day to see the Indiana show. Well I decided the best thing for me to do was go to the Barnes & Noble on 86th street and buy something. Which I did. I found a very discounted dvd of the Errol Flynn Robin Hood. $3.99 and the most recent copy of Film Comment, then I took the subway back home to Brooklyn and found a new umbrella just sitting on a bench waiting for me to take it home with me. When I got back to Brooklyn I definitely needed a buttered roll and a cup of coffee from Sally and George's so it turned out not to be such a stupid dumb day after all.

Verse Junkies

This is nice, even though I just found out it was posted in October. I knew it was going to be published but not when, and Verse Junkies failed to inform me that it was up and running in October. I found it by accident. This failure to inform me that my work has been published has been happening more and more of late and needless to say it pisses me off, sure I'm pleased that my work is being published left and right, but annoyed when I'm not told. Anyway this is a nice piece. 

 Robbi Nester responds to a sculpture by Ira Joel Haber

box yellow house.jpg better size.jpgd smaller.jpg s
Box with yellow and white house and four telephone poles by Ira Joel Haber (1969)

Robbi writes on the process:
“A year ago, I wrote a poem about Super Storm Sandy. A week or two later, I saw a call for submissions about the storm at Broadsided. They publish broadsides pairing art and poetry along with interviews about the genesis of the pieces:
I didn’t notice that the call asked poets to write a poem in response to a painting posted on the website that was done by Ira Joel Haber. I sent in the poem, and a while later learned that my poem had been chosen. I have always been interested in ekphrastic poetry. My first book, a chapbook called Balance (White Violet Press, 2012) follows a sequence of yoga poses developed by B.K.S. Iyengar (the Emotional Stability Sequence) and paired with drawings of the 15 poses done by artist Nina Canal.
Following that, I began to write many more ekphrastic pieces, and soon had a manuscript of them, Together. Ira contributed many pieces to the book, along with other artists like Sallie-Anne Swift, Lavina Blossom, Mary Boxley Bullington, and photographers John Genesta (who also did the cover of my chapbook) and Sandrine Bizaux Scherson. Some of these, like “Home,” were written in response to the art piece, and once, Ira was inspired to do a whole series of paintings about my poem “To Be Continued, about the Antarctic explorer, Shackleton.
I also wrote about some well known pieces, like photographs by Diane Arbus and one of the self-portraits done by my great-uncle, the poet and painter, Isaac Rosenberg, who was a WWI British poet. The portrait hangs in the National Gallery in London.
I look forward to the release of the book in 2015, when I hope we can arrange readings and gallery shows of the work in the book.”

After a sculpture by Ira Joel Haber

There is no place
like this home
in a box—the tiny
vacant windows gape
in surprise or invitation.
Nobody lives there
or ever will.
It nestles
in imaginary hills.
Telephone poles
stand sentry
on either side
though the bright
yellow roof generates
its own light.
Plato must have
had it right:
this house
embodies an idea
of home, perfect
and pure, the kind
of place glimpsed
in passing
through the back
window of the car
as a small child
rides from one city
place to another,
dreaming of a future
that will never come.

Ira Joel Haber writes:
“The piece used in the poem “Home” was made by me in 1969. I titled it Box with yellow and white house and four telephone poles. It’s been exhibited in several exhibitions and was once owned by the late poet Hannah Weiner who returned it to me many years ago because she was having a nervous breakdown and was afraid that she couldn’t be responsible for it. It now resides with me. I posted it not too long ago on Facebook, and Robbi saw it, loved it, was inspired by it to write her poem “Home.” I’m very honored and pleased that one of my pieces inspired her to write the poem that is now published here.”

Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), which follows a sequence of yoga poses developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. The book offers a poem of 14 lines for each of the 15 poses, accompanied by drawings by Nina Canal. Her two manuscripts of poetry are still out, awaiting publication.
While she is waiting, Robbi is busy putting together an anthology of poetry and artwork inspired by NPR and PBS stories and shows. It is called The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! and will be published by Ninetoes Press sometime next Spring or Summer. Please feel free to submit work to with the subject line NPR Poetry (or artwork) and your name. Attach a Word document or jpg (for art) and a bio.
She is also an Executive Editor on the journal Slippage, which combines science and the arts, and a book reviewer for New York Journal of Books.
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 100 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fund. Further works can be viewed at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

exhibitions seen and noted

I really don't know what to make of the sprawling Raqib Shaw show that fills all the Pace spaces on 25th st. They're impressive to be sure in size and technique and they are certainly rich in imagery. The "paintings" are based are all sorts of mythological images and figures mixing in up in some pretty fantastical landscapes. The colors are right out of some B Technicolor Arabian Nights Maria Montez extravaganza, and that might be what's wrong with them. They're camp, expensive camp, fun camp but still camp, and as enjoyable as they are, and as spectacular as they are, I really don't know if I liked them all that much, or maybe I liked them too much and I feel guilty for that, all those jewels and glitter. They will no doubt be huge crowd pleasers with the Chelsea Saturday gallery goers, after all this is the kind of work, big and somewhat vulgar that pulls them in. So after all this brightness and loudness it was nice to cross the street to the quiet and very beautiful big abstractions of Sean Scully at Cheim & Read. Maybe I was in the mood for a little subtlety after Raqib and this simple but complex group of paintings fit the bill. I also liked much of Miriam Schapiro mixed retro like show at the Flomenhaft gallery that mixes doses of feminism with decorative painting and collage. Cozy and comfy. A very pleasing show. Finally I saw the Larry Poons show Geometry and Dots 1957-1965 at the Loretta Howard Gallery. This is a small show of his early work including his "dot paintings" which I always liked and take the sour taste out of my eyes that I felt from seeing his show of his recent work a few months ago at this same gallery. I wish he had somehow continued on this color field track instead of the messy abstract one he seems to be on at this late point in his long career. Now do you want me to tell you about all the crap that I saw?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

and still another Oddball appearance.

Another Oddball Magazine Appearance

Oddball Magazine

Monday, November 18, 2013

At The Ad Reinhardt Show

I absolutely positively enjoyed this wide ranging career spanning exhibit of Mr. Reinhardt's that is now residing at one of the many Zwirner galleries that line Chelsea. I especially liked all those marvelous cartoons and drawings that he did for some of the aggressive left leaning magazines and newspapers of the 30's and 40's and the first gallery is full of them. What was impressive about them, (besides their political learnings) were the intricate details of these small illustrations, he didn't work large and then have them reduced, these are really small, charming and ferocious Ad took no prisoners especially those in the then much smaller and intimate New York art world. He also did book covers and posters, and then presto he was on to making these black paintings which aren't really all black, and the second gallery is lined with them. I've always liked them, black has always been more interesting to me than white. Under the right viewing situations you can start seeing the delicate squares of different tones of black that make up the works, even sometimes seeing some blue black patches, that's if as I said the viewing situation is right. Unfortunately I found the installation here uncomfortable and not at all to my liking. I know that Reinhardt wanted to keep viewers at a certain distance from his work but its way too extreme at this show with those annoying barriers and annoying guards getting in the way of the works. I felt like i was in a corral, and by being so far away from the paintings I couldn't really make out all the subtleties of the works. I think some of those nice clunky low wooden platforms painted white would have worked much better and in fact thats how his show at Betty Parson's was installed, (no I wasn't there in 1965, but there is a photo of the installation in the very nice free brochures that you can pick up at the gallery). The final part of the show is a big slide show of his photographs that he took on his travels that he would force on his artist friends whenever he could. These are absolutely of no interest to me, and after looking a a few I left.

Ricochet Magazine

Ricochet Magazine has just published their latest issue on line with 5 of my photographs including the cover which I took on the campus of Ohio State in 1984. You can view all 5 of the photographs at this link which is a fast downloading Pdf.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


On the weekends, the R local train runs on the express tracks into Manhattan. During the week because of the extensive repairs being done to the tunnels, caused by Sandy stepping heavily on the infrastructure of the transit system, the R only goes to Court Street which is in downtown Brooklyn, causing R riders needing the lower Manhattan Broadway stops much aggravation and this aggravation will continue for the next year or so.  But on the weekend the R travels fast and comes out into daylight (or night light) on the Manhattan Bridge. I love watching the jolt of surprise on the faces of the tourists as they realize this beautiful city (at least the lower portion of it) is rushing by outside the windows as we zoom past Chinatown and the graffiti scared roofs, upper parts of the buildings and indeed the bridge itself and then it’s back into the tunnel. The last time I saw the city this way, was right after 9-11 when once again because of damage to the lower Manhattan stations the R had to cross over the Manhattan Bridge. It was sad, with smoke and dust still hovering over the downtown skyline and all talk and noise in the subway car would come to a sudden stop and looks of despair, sadness and anger would appear on the faces of the passengers. Growing up in Brooklyn, and leaving it in my 18th year to live in the city, going and coming over the bridge was a familiar but always spectacular sight for me, and it still is. Supposedly when I was very young and my Mother was going to take me into the city for the first time, she told me we would be crossing a river to get there. I asked her if we would have to swim across to get there, she laughed, took a puff of her Raleigh cigarette and I assume hugged me, and for the 31 years that I lived in Manhattan I would only cross the bridge to visit my parents who were still living in the same apartment that I grew up in. Once when I was very young my brother took me into the city probably to a movie and I saw a very old woman on the train who scared me. It was no doubt my first encounter with our mortality and when I got back home I burst out crying telling my good looking raven haired mother not to get old and die, of course she eventually did both of those things, but in 1953 she still looked like a cross to my new movie going eyes between Jane Russell, Ruth Roman and Patricia Medina. From the R train’s windows we can also see in the not far distance the great Brooklyn Bridge which I walked across so far only once when a few springs ago I crossed it from Brooklyn into Manhattan with my oldest friend a few weeks before he left my beloved city for a smaller more quieter place somewhere out west. In the far distance on clear days I can also see the other bridge, the breathtaking Verrazano-Narrows that is now part of my life, and looms over my quiet unhip but pretty Brooklyn neighborhood that I’ve lived in since the summer of 2001. Its the first thing I see as I cross the street from my apartment to go to Sally & George’s for my morning toasted roll and coffee. 
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